Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Chaos Walking trilogy, by Patrick Ness

I'm finally done: I had three hours of watching my son at circus practice, and I brought along writing to do but I brought Monsters of Men as well, thinking maybe I'd just read for an hour and then I'd put it down. Yeah, right. I wasn't quite done when circus was over, and I was just about prepared to let son and carpooler sit there and wait while I read the last few chapters. (I didn't, though. I mustered self-control and waited until I got home.) Then I had to wait for a few days before I had anything to say about it besides "Woah. Oh my. Holy crap. Wow. Mmmglfarb blither blither."

Monsters of Men lived up to the other two. It was intense, there were hard choices made and people didn't usually make the right ones, there were significant surprises and devastating moments. The end was unexpected and gut-wrenching and satisfying. (More satisfying than Mockingjay, just for the record.) I'm not going to say anything more about the plot, because this is a series you do not want spoilers for.

Patrick Ness can write. These are amazing books. Should you read them? Yes, if you like dystopias and post-apocalyptic men-reduced-to-the-best-and-worst-they-can-be types of stories. (It's not post-apocalyptic, it's actually settlers-on-a-new-planet, but you get the same sense.) Yes, if you like page-turning, nail-biting suspense and can handle present-tense semi-stream-of-consciousness narration (which is one of the things that bothered a lot of reviewers, but I thought it worked. Made everything visceral.) Yes if you can take a fair bit of violence. Yes if you don't mind science-fictiony concepts that aren't really well-explained—Ness requires you to suspend disbelief and just accept the concept of Noise with only a minimal framework to understand it in. (I think the series is less science fiction and more parable: let's put humans in this scenario and see what happens to them. The scenario happens to be new planet, aliens, strange form of telepathy, but we're not that interested in the details; we just want to see what the people do. It's kind of Shakespearean that way.)

I think these are the kind of books that you either love or hate. I loved them. I'm curious to know what you think.

(And those covers: are they not the best covers ever? Awesome titles, too. Just overall general awesomeness all around.)

I don't have a food analogy because reading these wasn't like eating. It was more like injecting a drug (not that I would know what that's like!)

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