07 December 2011

Book Review: The New World

Title: The New World
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.


  1. Huh. I had no idea this book existed! I wonder if Ness always planned to write it? Or was it an afterthought, based on the success of the trilogy? Well, I guess I am in this thing 100% at this point, so I will have to read it. But I think I will miss Todd.

  2. I know I need to read the trilogy, and have them all sitting here waiting for me. I can't say why I have taken so long to start them, as I have heard they are just amazing books and I won't be able to stand how incredible they are! I am adding this story to my list as well, but I think that I will read it last, like others have. Great review on this one!

  3. I didn't know there was a prequel either! Must get it!

  4. It's a great story, isn't it? Also, it was initially made available for free online shortly after The Ask and the Answer came out, so I'd guess it was more planned than an afterthought.

  5. I haven't read this series yet, but I would like to. I'm deathly afraid he's going to make me cry like a baby. I can almost bet on it!

  6. Yep, yet another series I NEED to get to asap! Sigh.

  7. I had downloaded this BEFORE I read the series and then forgot all about it! Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Series is on MUST list for 2012! but wait, I want to read the entire Harry Potter lineup. sigh

  9. T, can I read this even though I've only read the first book?

  10. I have this trilogy on my list to read next year and am looking forward to it.

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  11. I haven't read this series yet but plan to. I've surprised myself with how long I've managed to stay away considering all the love for these books.

  12. Funny, I did the exact same thing as Jenners. I downlaoded this months ago on my kindle. I just finished the trilogy last week and forgot about this. I read it after seeing this post and I think it adds a great new dimension to the story. Viola feels so much younger than she does in the other books, which makes sense.


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