As a world-ending war surges to life around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches. And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many.
The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist? To save the life of the one you love most or thousands of strangers? To believe in redemption or assume it is lost? Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage toward a shocking finale.
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The Power of great writing, and great performances
I have both read and listened to this entire series, so this review is for all three books in the Chaos Walking trilogy. I read a lot of YA fiction (that's where most of the best sci-fi/fantasy literature is being classified, these days), and on the whole, I have not been impressed with the sloppy, bland prose in many of the more popular series. I decided to try this series because of the narrator, Nick Podehl, who did such a fantastic job narrating the first two books of Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles (The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear).
While I expected another great performance from Nick, I was not prepared for the power of Patrick Ness's writing. I'm not even sure how to describe the effect it had on me. He so effectively portrays the thoughts and feelings of his characters that it is like you are inside their heads to the point where reading or listening to this series can become physically exhausting or exhilarating or terrifying or desperate or confused or sad or whatever the character is going through, because he writes the way that people think, or at least the way that I think.
Normally, when I start a series that has already been completed, I will go through all of the books back to back, but the overwhelming intensity of the story gave me so much to think about and process that I had to take a few week's break between the books. This is not a happy, lighthearted series. It is about the real, deep evil that can exist in human beings. It is also about the innate goodness that can somehow grow even surrounded by this type of evil. It is about friendship, and sacrifice, and the decisions we make, and having to live with the consequences of our decisions. I guess I'm rambling now, so I'll just summarize by saying, this is powerful, breathtaking, thought provoking, important stuff. This story will get inside you, and stick with you long after you've finished it. I hope Patrick Ness continues to give the world more stories.
The writing, the writing, the writing! Patrick Ness is absolutely brilliant!
Nick Podehl was great in Name of the Wind, and Wise Man's Fear, as I mentioned. However, his performance in the Chaos Walking trilogy is gaspingly, jaw-droppingly amazing. I was blown away. The Ask and the Answer, and then Monsters of Men, also feature real powerhouse performances by Angela Dawe and McLeod Andrews that were equally stunning. I plan to look for other audiobooks narrated by Angela and McLeod. This was a rare case of the audiobook living up to, and many times surpassing, my expectations having read the books in print form as well. All three narrators deserve whatever equivalent that the audiobook world has of the Academy Awards.
It would be impossible to pick one, without mentioning major spoilers.
Read this series, or listen to this series. And then tell your friends to read or listen to this series.
War, umph! What is it good for?
- Jim "The Impatient" "My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books."