I’ve just finished reading Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series. Wow.
I kept putting off reading The Knife of Letting Never Go, despite the rave reviews or perhaps in spite of them. I read the sample chapter several times but kept finding other books that were clamouring more loudly to climb up my To Read list.
When I did get to the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, I loved it. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Mr Ness has created a universe where men can hear each other’s thoughts, or ‘noise’, along with those of animals. This produces insights that can be comic, moving, tragic or horrific. It’s truly compelling, particularly when we learn women can hear male thoughts but men cannot read female minds. Unsurprisingly, the voices are unique – whether you like the characters or not.
The second book, The Ask and the Answer, didn’t wow me quite as much, although it did its job – setting the foundations for an epic finale. And man, does the third book deliver.
Monsters of Men takes the male-female human-animal-monster themes of the first two books and turns them up to 11. It adds an acute awareness of indigenous dispossession, environmental degradation and the consequences of war. It is a remarkable climax to the trilogy, even managing to introduce a new narrative perspective.
As an author working on creating my own new universe, I doff my cap to Mr Ness. He has set the bar very high indeed.