Series: Prequel to Chaos Walking
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher/Year: Candlewick / 2009
Date Finished: 3 December 2011
Source/Format: B&N / nookbook
Book #: 93
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Other Books in the Series: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men
In this prequel to one of my favorite series, readers are shown Viola's short trip to the new world her people expect to inhabit. The story shifts perspective between the last fateful moments of her and her parents landing and the time leading up to their departure from their colony ship.
The story artfully weaves together a plot line charged with Viola's fear of the undertaking and her parents hope. One section captured me with the simplicity of the dialogue but the profound quality of the discussion. Viola and her father are arguing about the possibilities of the new world.
Viola says, "No one ever seems to wonder what happens if it turns out we hate living on a planet? What if the sky's too big? What if the air stinks? What if we go hungry?"
Her father responds, "And what if the air tastes of honey? What if there's so much food we all get too fat? What is the sky is so beautiful we don't get any work done because we're all looking at it too much?"
[Viola] turned and closed up the coolant tube cases. "But what if it isn't?"
"But what if it is?"
"What if it isn't?"
"What if it is?"
The back-and-forth nature of this conversation reminds me of many a convo between a child and parent. A bit ridiculous because of the circular nature, but such an important point being made here and in the rest of the story. Hope is essential to our survival - and possibly more importantly to our enjoyment of life especially in difficult times.
And this is why I love Ness. Not only does he create a compelling, well written story but he manages to combine simplicity with astuteness and wisdom. If you have yet to read the series, do so as soon as humanly possible. If you have read the series already but haven't read this yet, I highly recommend doing so. It is a delightful addition.