Chaos Walking Series – Patrick Ness

chaos walkingReading level:
The Knife of Never Letting Go: 5.6
The Ask and the Answer: 4.7
Monsters of Men: 8.6
Series: Chaos Walking
Genre: Adventure, science fiction
ELL-Friendly: Yes
Library recommendation: Middle or high school

As I write this post, I am at the beginning of Monsters of Men. I can’t say I loved this series because it is so cruel and violent. It’s not for the faint of heart. I mean, kids are fighting for their lives page after page and that kind of makes me sad. But that’s just me.

However, the books are well-written and fairly well paced, although the plot could move a little quicker at points, I think. I anticipate that boys would enjoy these books more than girls, although Viola is an incredible female character because she’s downright brave and brilliant. The characters, both heroes and villains, are well-developed and you can’t but help loving Todd and Viola while hating the Mayor with your entire being.

Despite it being violent at times, I don’t foresee anything in these books that would prompt outrage from parents.

Definitely a set of books I’d like to have in my classroom.

Edit: As I look over this post, I realize how much it’s lacking, which is basically everything. Yikes. I want to add a bit more and say that these 3 books are a critical look at how we humans treat each other and our environment, and how we manipulate one another. The only truth the reader knows was that Ben and Todd love each other and that Todd and Viola love each other too. It’s a reminder to hang on to those dear people in your life but to also embrace other people who are different from you (i.e. the “alien” spackle).

The way the spackle communicate is beautiful. I still don’t exactly understand it, but it’s like they communicated with each other and the world by…I don’t know…telepathy? They were so connected to it all, every joy and every death of each living thing. And then that way of being is contrasted by the humans who destroy and kill and lie. The irony, of course, is that the humans reached this new planet and immediately thought they were better, more superior, and smarter than the life forms already there. Sound familiar (*cough* colonization *cough*)?

The character of Mayor Prentiss is so…wonderfully evil. At times I wanted to trust and believe him. I still can’t get over how well he is written to be so manipulative, much like dictators of our past and present, so much like everyday politicians.

Davey Prentiss got to me too. What a terrible kid, but…was he really? I hated him up until the end of the series (can’t remember when one book ended and the other began), but I couldn’t help but take all that back when I realized why he thought and felt and acted the way he did. With a father like the Mayor, who could blame him? I enjoyed witnessing his transformation from a total jerk to being an acceptable human being, showing readers that the worst of us can change if they’re given a chance and a friend.

I hope someone names their dog after Manchee, that ruddy good dog.

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