Seriously, who is in charge? I could say from a mile away this series would NOT make a good movie. But it did make a really good book series. I found myself emotionally involved and invested in the first book and in love with the second. The third was a bit of a let down personally but the conclusion and characters were still strong.
Quick plot summary: Todd is a boy aging into manhood on a planet with a lack of women. The men of the planet have ‘Noise,’ an ability where their thoughts are all projected out and heard. Todd discovers that his world might not be what it seems and leads to conflict and discovery.
I reviewed these each individually as I read them so you can see my thoughts. I did drop some spoilers in here but honestly, its a spoiler that I think needs to be forewarned anyways. But avoid the following if you would like to go in totally unspoiled!
The Knife of Never Letting Go
Quick thoughts: This book was surprisingly emotionally effective and tense. The world building and concept was interesting. Todd and Viola are likable and interesting characters. But lets get into the real heart of the matter:
The spoiler of all spoilers for this book buts its necessary and I would want anyone to be prepared.
The dog dies.
He dies and its so fucking sad. I bawled like a giant baby and had to snuggle with my dog for twenty minutes of comfort.
I would normally say avoid this book at all cost if you can’t handle animal deaths but honestly this is a really good book. So it may be worth trying and just…crying your way through it like I did.
The plot of this book revolves around Todd, a boy in society on a newly colonized planet. The society around him is made up entirely of men. The women of the world were killed off by a disease that created the Noise, a mind sharing capability between men. Todd has his world view rocked when he discovers something in the swamp. Also, the animals can talk! Which makes the dog dying even more absolutely devastating.
The voice of this story is Todd and it can’t be a bit unusual to get into. The writing reflects his lack of education and distinct voice being raised as he was. It took a bit for me to get used to it but once I did his voice was interesting, especially as we see it develop. Todd is so innocently likeable in a world filled with toxicity.
Overall, I really loved this story even though it was bleak as hell and the dog dies. I would honestly recommend this to fans of The Handmaid’s Tale? I know its vastly different but also….a lot of the same. Be prepared to feel the same anxiety you do when you read that though.
Some spoilers for this book will be present in the following reviews:
The Ask and the Answer
This book series is out to get me emotionally.
Quick thoughts: an amazing follow up that somehow tops the emotional impact (well, other than the dog thing which broke me) and tension of the first book.
In this sequel we follow both Todd and Viola after they discover that Haven is not quite what they expected. They both deal with the difficulties of war, oppression, and betrayals.
Viola’s POV is a welcome addition and distinct voice that adds to the story rather than detracts.
The tension building of this book is so impeccable. It felt like an ever-tightening restraint on my chest. The villain was the perfect amount of mysterious and ominous. But also, a surprising turn of villainy from every direction leads to a lack of being able to settle or feel comfortable with any side.
Todd’s journey is really the most captivating and devastating. While Viola finds herself at least somewhat removed from the horrors of the novel, Todd is thrust and forced slowly into capitulating in them. We watch him slowly lose themselves and in such a believable way that its feels understandable and inexcusable at the same time which is where he is at in viewing himself.
**Spoilers for a moment that destroyed me:**
“Todd leant down, his hands on his knees, staring at the floor. ‘It wasn’t me, was it?’ he says, his voice quiet, too. ‘I didn’t-‘ He gestures again at the band without looking up. ‘I didn’t do it without knowing it was you, did I?’”
Todd removed himself from his own mind so completely to avoid what was happening around him and what he was doing that he feared he wouldn’t even recognize the person in front of him. I CRIED.
Overall, a super good follow up that takes a good look at war and power and those caught under it. I’m not a big fan of how it ended but still looking forward to the next one.
Monsters of Men
This is the conclusion of the Chaos Walking series. The last two books were absolutely amazing so I am a little disappointed to have struggled so much with this one.
We again pick up with Viola and Todd as they try to keep the world together that is rapidly being pulled apart by opposing forces. A greater threat pulls everyone together as they race the clock to make the world safe for the large incoming population.
So my problems with this book might be entirely personal: I often struggle with multi-POV (which seems like its every single YA/fantasy/sci fi book nowadays). The last book of the series opened us up to the perspective of Viola. This book adds a third POV but the problem comes less from that addition and more into how often the perspective shifts. It’s constant. Scenes will be told from character and mid-sentence swap to another character. It was too much and really broke my ‘reading flow’. Swapping POV’s really resets my brain kind of like walking through a doorway and you forgot why you walked into the room in the first place. So imagine that happening every other page and you have the story slowed down dramatically for myself. Its frustrating to constantly reorient my own brain.
Second, I really didn’t like where we went with the villain. The reasonings for keeping him around and with power and trust seemed flimsy and nonsensical, which made what he got away with more and more ridiculous. He went from being mysterious and terrifying in the last book to a petty crazy person in this one.
There are definitely things I did like in this though. I thought the background and info about the Spackle was a welcome and interesting addition. I really liked Simon as a new character and hearing how a new man adjusts to the Noise on the planet. Viola and Todd continued to be wonderful characters and they are so ride-or-die that I love them to pieces. They had a little bump in the road but honestly it just made it clear how much love there was between them to me that Viola couldn’t stand to be separated from any part of Todd.
There was definitely plenty to love, I just struggled to read it because of the formatting. Otherwise, I would definitely recommend this series! It was really good!
Anyone read books they KNOW will make terrible movies?