Have you read Patrick Ness’ fantastic dystopian trilogy? If you haven’t, here’s why you need to go out and buy them right now…
The Central idea
The Chaos Walking trilogy has a fantastic core conceit – it is set in a world in which everyone can read each other’s thoughts. Due to a terrible virus that wiped out the female population, the remaining men were gifted/cursed with telepathy. The ability is often overwhelming for protagonist Todd – the title comes from the way he describes the chaotic mess of thoughts that one person has going on in their head.
A Fresh Take on Dystopian Fiction
We’ve been fairly swamped in dystopian fictions over the last few years (though we are slowly coming out of that now), but The Chaos Walking trilogy is perhaps the standout of this field that hasn’t been adapted to film. In content, it is more of a science fiction tale but it is rooted in the ‘youths-versus-the-system’ feel of YA dystopia. If you believe the genre has become too overpopulated and think it needs a new leading light, this series is for you.
The trilogy’s first installment, The Knife of Never Letting Go, is largely a road-trip story, as Todd is forced to leave his home and travel to a fabled haven. Accompanying him on his travels is his faithful dog, Manchee, who – through the telepathy virus – can talk (warning: this dog will steal your heart). There is also another significant character in the book who is superbly drawn but we won’t mention them for the sake of spoilers.
The absence of women as a whole in The Knife of Never Letting Go could turn the series into a testosterone fest, but the story is far too clever for that. By having Todd brought up in a world without women, the first book’s thematic heart is about how he learns that the genders aren’t as binary as he believed and that being a man doesn’t just revolve around violence. Few YA books around right now are as smart as the Chaos Walking books.
Patrick Ness is the Next Big Thing
Patrick Ness has been a big hitter in the YA world for a while now, but he is just starting to break into the realm of film and TV. He has written the script for the movie version of his novel A Monster Calls, which is coming out this year. Likewise, he is the showrunner of new Doctor Who spin-off Class, set to air this Autumn. If you haven’t already, it’s time to delve into Ness’ fantastic back catalogue. The Chaos Walking trilogy is the perfect place to start…