One of the things I love best about Jo March is her fearlessness. She isn’t afraid of being different or of being herself. She is the March sister we all see in ourselves (or wish we could be): that wild part of us that longs to break free from whatever it is that is holding us back. With that spirit of self-discovery and adventure in mind, I present the following review on a series (yes, a series, because Jo always dives into things head-first) that contains everything Jo would love: adventure, battle, love, mortal enemies, and the fate of the world.
Disclaimer: The following series is technically a YA fictional series, however, the content is mature. I would not recommend for a YA reader. It is a war story. It’s depictions of battle are gruesome and heart-heavy. As with most war stories, there is frequent use of language.
The series is Chaos Walking. I first heard of it a few months ago when I saw that Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley would be starring in the movie adaptation. As with most movie adaptations, I aspire to read the book(s) before seeing the movie. I borrowed the first novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go from the library with zero knowledge of what the book was about. I only knew that I liked Tom Holland in Spider-Man and Daisy Ridley in the new Star Wars, and I wanted to see this movie.
The story centers around a first-person narrator – a boy named Todd Hewitt – who lives in a future world where all the women are dead and all the men can hear each others’ thoughts. They call it “noise.” Nothing is secret, life is in survival-mode, and there isn’t much hope for the future of the human race.
Honestly to say more would be giving too much away…
I came into this series expecting a sci-fi adventure novel and was instead thrust into a survivalist, morally-questionable story that expanded into an epic wartime drama. The concept of “noise” was so intriguing, so originally written and excecuted, and eventually expanded upon in a natural progression through all three books. It’s an open metaphor for our present day information overload. True to the YA genre, Chaos Walking is a coming-of-age story that focuses heavily on moral dilemmas and repeatedly begs the questions: how far would you go to survive? Would you do the unimaginable if it meant there was even a remote chance for hope? Does the end justify the means? The series provides no answers to these questions, it leaves it up to the reader to decide.
The best part of this series is that not one single character is completely morally good. Every character makes mistakes and every character has some redeemable quality…even the ones you least suspect. Ness carries the theme of “information overload” to the very, very end. He builds a world that feels like Earth, comments on colonialism and terrorism, and never quite explains some aspects of the overall narrative arch – which actually works in the story’s favor, as no narrator or character is omniscient.
The second best part of this series is the primary antagonist. Ness crafted a villain you will simultaneously loathe and pity, which is so rare.
I appreciated the way Ness presented this series. It felt like he wrote it in its entirety and then divided it into three parts, rather than write one book and slap the sequels together in an effort to create cohesion. Monsters of Men LITERALLY begins with the last sentence of The Ask and the Answer.
This is a series I read with my friend. We stayed up way too late binge-reading. When we both finished reading the final book, we talked about it for over an hour. Apart from the items mentioned in my disclaimer, I cannot recommend this series strongly enough. It’s a brilliant commentary on humanity.
You’ll notice my review excludes plot and character-development commentary. There are both, I promise, but I honestly think that you should go into this series as blind as possible. If you’re interested in a more comprehensive review or even spoilers, I suggest looking at reviews on Goodreads.