16 April 2011

Book Review: Chaos Walking Series

I am choosing to do my review of Monsters of Men a bit different from the norm. Instead of reviewing the book, I am going to talk about the series as a whole. The book certainly warrants its own review - freaking fantabulous read - but as I don't want to give even the hint of plot spoilers, this seemed a better way to go about things. Ana at things mean a lot communicated my thoughts perfectly:
Part of me can’t step away from the story enough to stop thinking about it as something that happened and see it as something that was written. Obviously I know this is a book (otherwise I’d probably be well on my way to the loony bin), but my emotional investment is such I just can’t quite analyse it as a piece of fiction – not just yet. And while this probably makes me unable to say anything about this series that will be of use to those who aren’t already under its spell, I hope it’ll still be enough to intrigue you. Because don’t you love it this happens? When a story feels so real that until you finish it you walk around in a haze, worrying about the characters? That when you do finish it, you feel bereaved because you won’t get to spend more time with them? Don’t you love getting this invested in a fictional world, in what’s going on the lives of a group of fictional characters?
Ana always knows just the right thing to say. It's like she's in my mind..... My response to this series is more emotional than I am used to in my reading. Scenes throughout brought tears to my eyes, and even as the story challenged me intellectually (and in so many ways), I found myself continuously circling back to a love of the characters and a strong desire to see things through. Hell, I think I wanted to help them as crazy as that sounds.

During the April readathon, I re-read the first two books of Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series in order to ready myself for FINALLY reading the final installment, Monsters of Men. In my review of the first, The Knife of Never Letting Go, I say: "I have absolutely no idea how to talk about this book without spoilers.  Every moment in the book is rife with possibilities, questions, and excitement. I could not stop reading; every turn of the page brought on a deep desire to see the next." That feeling of urgency followed me throughout the entire series, every page, every shift in the plot, every revelation of character, pressed me to keep reading. These are truly books I do not want to put down.

Outside of the action of the plot, the series serves a banquet of philosophical questions. Dominant among these is the notion of good and evil. And this is one of my favorite parts about the series. Ness refrained from creating a strict dichotomy (as so many novels do) and instead developed these wonderfully complex characters who comprise wonderfully complex societies. The notion of "good" and "evil" is as convoluted and confusing in the book as it is in real life, and I truly appreciated this while reading. At no point in the series did I think "this or that man/woman is evil". Even when horrendous acts were being committed and wars being fought and lives being sacrificed, the characters in the story come across as humans in all their contradictory completeness.

I wish I could tell you more. I wish I could sit here and talk about all of the wonderful, moving, powerful, insightful, heartwarming, heart wrenching, terrible, beautiful, and otherwise truly awesome events in this series, but I really think you have to experience it for yourself. If you have not yet read the series, I strongly urge you to run out and buy it (or get your hands on it in a more frugal way).


  1. There's a prequel novella available in Kindle format for free at the moment on Amazon. I haven't read the series yet but I planning on getting them later in the year.

  2. Wow, it seems like people really love this series! This review and you reminding me of Ana's very strong positive reaction is tipping me over the edge. Not sure if it's available at the library, but I may have to look into finding it!

  3. I am not sure why, but I have only read the first book. I need to get on the ball!

  4. I just want to talk about these books FOREVER. I'm a gigantic Chaos Walking Trilogy fan and love to hear what others think of it.

    if you haven't already checked it out, Patrick Ness answers some questions about the series and reads an excerpt from MoM. link here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/shadowingsite/watch.php?authorid=1

    Todd FOREVER.

  5. I loved these too. I read through them twice already! :--)

  6. I like this idea for a review -- thinking about whether to invest in a series as a whole. Sounds like a good one!

  7. I just read the first book and that pretty much guaranteed I'll continue on considering how he ended it!

  8. pwb - I wonder if I can get the prequel on my nook....

    Aarti - I definitely think you should read it. It's such a wonderful story.

    Stephanie - I'm impressed. I practically assaulted various bookstores to get the second after finishing the first.

    Lisa - Same here. I tell everyone about the series. Even people I know don't like YAL or SFF or reading itself. :)

    Jill - I'm sure this is a series I will read over and over again.

    Kim - It is definitely one of my favorite series of the last decade.

    Jenners - I know right? I was a mess when I finished the first book.

  9. I read book one and I have two and three in audio from candlewick to read!

  10. Pam - I think this would be really cool in audio. I may have to give that a try.

  11. Yayyyyyyyy! I'm always so enormously pleased when someone new comes to these books and loves them. They are among my favorite books in the world, which normally it takes years for books to attain a spot on my favorites list. I can't wait for Patrick Ness to write a thousand more books. I'm glad he's young. :D

  12. I'm curious if you'd recommend reading all of the books back to back. I have the first one at home, but I've been hesitant to start it because I know that with some series, I'll go nuts if I can't start the next one immediately.

  13. I love Ana's sentiments! After I finished Monsters of Men I kept finding myself thinking about what would happen next, like all I had to do was go out and get the next installment to be back on the journey with the characters. I love your point about good and evil, too. Ness makes it pretty much impossible to identify a clear-cut villain, which is pretty amazing. I'm glad you reading buddies got me to pick this series up!


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