Why You Should Read the Chaos Walking Trilogy – Series Review

April 24, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews


You may have recently heard me rave about the Chaos Walking series and how much it broke me, giving me the biggest book hangover of all time. Now I’m here to tell you all how I felt about this gritty dystopian series and to convince you to read it.

Here’s why you should read the Chaos Walking trilogy:

  • Thought-provoking and impactful. This series really makes you think about good and evil, human nature and the shifting power struggles between different groups of people.
  • The greatest ship ever are Todd and Viola. The names Todd and Viola are repeated over and over again throughout the series, and you really get a sense for their mutual bond and feelings. These two are awesome characters who are a riveting force of nature. Although they don’t actually get that much time together, you will ship them crazily!
  • Dark, gritty and disturbing writing. The themes in Chaos Walking are dark and disturbing, and the way it’s written is really powerful and packs a punch, showing off Todd’s dialect and the fear and terror that he feels. I love writing that conveys the tone of the book and this was perfect.
  • Consistently awesome. How many times have you reached the 2nd book of a series and discovered middle book syndrome? That doesn’t happen here, Chaos Walking was 5 stars all the way to the end.
  • Action-packed and filled with unpredictable twists. The writing in the book feels really tense with a sense of urgency, and it’s filled with action at every turn. There’s so many unpredictable and SHOCKING twists and turns that will have you clamouring for answers!
  • Manchee is the greatest dog character ever. What other book can you hear a dog’s thoughts and really fall in love with his loyalty and protection?
  • The Noise concept and aliens are fascinating. Instead of humans being native to the world, you’ve got Spackle aliens here who were here before us. There’s war, politics, slaves and a whole host of alien concepts here, and it just works. The concept of Noise, where you can hear every man’s thoughts and feelings are also a big part of the series and it’s absolutely terrifying.

In case you need more convincing, my spoiler-free series review for each book is below.

Why You Should Read the Chaos Walking Trilogy – Series ReviewThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick on July 22nd 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
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Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

When a book leaves me screaming at the ending, tears streaming down my face, yelling at Twitter, you know it’s left a lasting impression.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a well loved dystopia, and I’ve never quite read anything else like it. From the crazed psychos stalking Todd, to the dark and bloody origins of Prentisstown, to the incessant Noise constantly filling Todd’s thoughts, and the darkness, death and destruction…this book put me through the wringer when it came to emotion.

It’s not afraid to break boundaries when it comes to the darkness it entails, and the survival of one boy when he escapes his dark and corrupt town. From the terrain he has to cross, to the danger that lurks around every corner, to his journey through the unknown, there’s a certain terror that is captured here, especially when everyone can hear Todd’s every thought and feeling.

I love the way the book is told, through gripping, choppy writing, which expounds the chaotic nature of the world. While it takes a while to get into, it’s really tense and fast paced, capturing the frantic nature of the book.

The book hinges upon hope, the hope that you’ll find a better life, the hope that you place in strangers to help you on your journey, the hope of protecting the only friends you have. But what you don’t realise, is that the more hope you gather along the way, the more invested you’ll be in the journey. And every. single. slither of hope, will be absolutely and unequivocally crushed at the end of it, and that hope will be taken away.

Every small victory is matched by an even bigger challenge and there is just no winning. This is a bleak, bleak world where hope cannot exist. The only consolidation you’ll have at the end of the book is the harrowing cliffhanger, so you better make sure the sequel is close by.

Because maybe, maybe things will work out okay?

But I highly doubt it, because Patrick Ness is a cruel cruel person and I will never forgive him for taking that character away.

Why You Should Read the Chaos Walking Trilogy – Series ReviewThe Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick on July 22nd 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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We were in the square, in the square where I'd run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her - But there weren't no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men...
Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor's new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode...
"The Ask and the Answer" is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy.

Here I am before you once again, with my heart ripped into shreds. I didn’t think I had any more feelings left after the first book, but trust Patrick Ness to tear whatever was left out of your chest in the second.

The Ask and the Answer was significantly longer than the first book, with Todd and Viola working in two different forces for and against the Mayor, now President of New Prentisstown. While The Knife of Never Letting Go was fast paced and tense at every turn, we’re given a breather from the heart clutching action as we hear from both character’s perspectives.

While Todd shuts off his emotions, makes an unexpected friend and irons his steely resolve, Viola bides her time amongst the ranks of The Answer to rescue her friend Todd. We already knew Viola was a fiesty one, but her perspectives shows us a level of strength, calculation, loyalty and sheer determination that really added to her character.

What these two would be subject to throughout the book was incredibly raw and intense. The calculated moves, the unexpected betrayals, and the violence, torture and darkness had my heart tensing at the utter horror at everything they went through, just to protect and be with each other.
If you thought the first book was dark, you’ve seen nothing yet. The level of violence, torture, mind control, darkness and genocide in this book was incredibly intense and had my heart completely torn at every turn.

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be electrifying.

How am I going to survive the last book?

Why You Should Read the Chaos Walking Trilogy – Series ReviewMonsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick on July 22nd 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
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As a world-ending war surges to life around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches. And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many. The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist? To save the life of the one you love most or thousands of strangers? To believe in redemption or assume it is lost? Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage toward a shocking finale.

If the first two books were compelling, Monsters of Men is absolutely earth-shattering.

With Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle at two opposite ends of the spectrum, Todd and Viola must use their strength and influence to join forces and defend the incoming Spackle army. These two will move mountains, sometimes questioning their better judgement in order to protect each other. But what Patrick Ness demonstrates, in such an elegant, symbolic manner, is that love does conquer all.

I love how Todd and Viola are essentially good, but they are surrounded by so many bad people. Only with their steadfast trust in one another, and their belief in the other’s decisions, will they be able to conquer two dictators who are as dangerous as one another. In Monsters of Men, they lead. They defy the odds. And they show that good people, can prevail, that there is goodness in this deep dark world filled with Noise, madness and terror.

Monsters of Men is filled with the awful terrors of human nature combined with the overarching theme of redemption. Can people be brought back from the depths of evil? Will forgiveness change their ways and make them into better people? Or will they go down with their beliefs and what they essentially believe is right? It’s amazing how deep this book goes into questioning the balance of power and so many themes that apply to our everyday life.

With the addition of a Spackle point of view, the book shows us the scope from the other side of coin, of whether revenge or forgiveness is worth pursuing and the end result of both. While I found these point of views to be distracting at the start, they do add an essential element into the story. Everything becomes interwoven and climactic as the Spackle’s point of view brings the story to a full circle.

After a month of binging this series, I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself now. Brilliant, epic and surprisingly deep, the Chaos Walking trilogy is an absolute triumph. It’s a series that every reader should experience at least once.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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32 responses to “Why You Should Read the Chaos Walking Trilogy – Series Review

  1. I have this entire series, and have for two years, but I still haven't read it *hides* Even though I know so many people do! And I really loved The Rest of Us Just Live Here, so I KNOW I am keen to read more Patrick Ness!

    I'm so glad you loved this series, Jeann! Its always wonderful finding new books to fall in love with 😀

    These really sounds so interesting and unique, and I am always up for that. And of course an awesome ship to ship. I am worried about a dog character, though, because I'm always afraid they will die *cries*

    You have convinced me that I need to get to these ASAP!
    My recent post Preordering: Taste My Fury

  2. anotherafterthought

    This right here may be my favourite post of the year. I love that you love this series. Poo Jeann, poo.

  3. lydiaisawriter

    I read The Knife of Never Letting Go a couple of years ago and was so traumatised that I could not continue. I have read everything else by Patrick Ness since (including A Monster Calls which is SO NOT a book to read if you're looking to avoid trauma. I don't know what I was thinking) and I keep coming back to this series. I really do want to know what happens next. I will start emotionally preparing myself…

    • Yup, I totally know what you mean and I know why you were traumatised afterwords! Thanks for the warning about A Monster Calls, it's definitely on my radar especially since the movie trailer came out! I will have to emotionally prepare myself for that one, too!

  4. Lunch-Time Librarian

    I adore this series, it's so amazing and I'm so glad you enjoyed it! To be honest I was not a fan of the Todd and Viola romance, but everything around it was great. And I liked how they ended up sort of on opposite sides, while still trying to stay together.

    The Spackle in general just kind of blew my mind, and all the themes that come along with it. I mean, it's not everyday that a YA novel takes a good hard crack at commenting on colonialism. And it does such a good job. It absolutely made me a Patrick Ness fan girl
    My recent post If You Dare Book Review – Snickers Bars from Behind Bars

    • Awww, I'm glad you still liked it despite the romance not being your favourite. I know, how creepy were those Spackle? It was amazing how they expanded in the last 2 books and I loved how they became true characters. I completely agree!

  5. aentee @ read at midnight

    Omg I am so glad to hear you love this amazing series as much as I do. It's pretty much in my top 3 all time favourites, I still get ALL the feels when I think of Todd, Viola and that ending. It also had one of the best villains ever, terrifying yet human in all his flaws. I will never ship or cry as hard as I did for Todd/Viola again, my heart no longer has it in me haha.

    • OMG I am so glad I had you to talk to throughout the series, my heart and feels were seriously shattered while reading it! Todd and Viola were just so sweet and the author gave us so much yet so little between them.

  6. Kara

    I'm so glad you liked these ones, Jeann! Can you believe I still haven't gotten to them yet!? I know–shame on meeeee. 😉 It's one of those series that I keep telling myself I'll get around to reading eventually . . . and yet I still haven't gotten to them. Which is a shame because I LOVE his other works a lot. Lovely reviews!
    My recent post Five Books that Influenced my Debut

    • Oh Kara, you're not the only one! I'm so glad I finally picked it up and LOVED it though! So I totally know what you mean. Thank you lovely!

  7. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    SO glad you loved this series. I tried reading it a couple of years ago but actually DNFed the second book. I don't remember why anymore – I think I thought it was slow. Maybe I should give it another go though because I did enjoy the first book. Great series review!
    My recent post Weekly Rewind ~ 4.24.16

    • Ahhh that's such a shame Grace! I absolutely loved the series, and I do agree the second one is quite a slower pace than the first book. Please give it another go !

  8. YAYYYY! I totally agree with everything you said. Monsters of Men blew my MIND. I binged the series too, I actually bought the whole series as one book on my Kindle (which, I don't recommend because it tells you that you have like, 20 hours of reading to go hah) and read it all together, because how can you not!??! Seriously, this is one of my favorite series of all time, and I am so glad that you love it now too! And your reviews are FABULOUS, and I am sure that they'll convince people to read the series! I really need to reread this series- it's been wayyyy too long!
    My recent post Reviews in a Minute: More April(ish) Books

    • I KNOW RIGHT? I was just like how is he going to make it even more epic than the rest and he DID! Even to the very last page those emotions were just everywhere! Hahah gosh that would have been intimidating but I read them all back to back too. I love it so much Shannon, I hope people don't take as long as I did to pick it up! A re-read would be amazing!

  9. I just finished this book yesterday… and sadly I didn't like it! It's just to chaotic and dark for my taste. I know that it's because tha author try to picture the world, but I just can't…. And I love Viola, but Todd really pisses me off. And Manchee! I still cried for him. Idk why, but I always pictured him as a Corgi. Glad you loved this series though!
    My recent post Book Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

    • Oh noooo! I'm sorry to hear it wasn't for you Tasya, but yes it was definitely a lot darker and more chaotic than I would've imagined! Ah how come Todd annoyed you? He exhibits signs of trauma for me. Oh my gosh, it was heart breaking wasn't it? Corgi's are so cute!

      • He's just so stubborn and have so much pride! If only he lets Viola helped her read the journal from the beginning. And he's… I don't know, too unstable? I get that he's 13 and going through a lot of things, but I really never met any MG character that annoys me as much as he is 🙁

  10. I love it when a series can put you into a book hangover – a clear sign that NOTHING else can ever compare to it. The characters, the world, the setting…everything is just perfect. I've had this series sitting on my shelves for yonks now, but haven't had a chance to pick it up. I've only read one Ness book so far, and while it was good, it wasn't as great as everyone else has made his writing out to be. However, the Chaos Walking series is one that no one has ever been able to fault, so I'm so, so, SO excited to experience this rollarcoaster ride of emotions soon!

    • Absolutely, it was just such a shocking and thrilling ride and I enjoyed every moment of it! I'm glad I finally sat down and picked it up because it was absolutely brilliant! I hope you read it soon Joy and LOVE it as much as I did!

  11. I have the Knife of Letting Go and I am incredibly excited to read it! Especially since I'm going in blind and I have absolutely NO IDEA what I'm getting myself into. Except I know EVERYONE has raved about this, so obviously it will be fantastic. AND DID YOU READ ALL OF THESE IN A COUPLE OF DAYS?

    • I can't wait for you to read it, you have to steel your heart and prepare the tissues Val because it's so incredibly addictive and it will TEAR YOU APART. There, don't say I didn't warn you? Nah, I read them in a couple of weeks XD

    • Absolutely, The Bookish Games definitely prompted me to pick it up because I did not want to be spoiled, and I needed to know those fabulous references. And I didn't regret it at all!

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