Chaos Walking Review


Molly Briggs ’19, News Editor and Nellie Shih ’19, Arts & Entertainment Editor


“It’s not that you should never love something so much that it can control you. It’s that you need to love something that much so you can never be controlled. It’s not a weakness. It’s your best strength.”


Chaos Walking, by Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls, More Than This, Release), is a trilogy following the nearly 13-year-old boy named Todd Hewitt, who lives in New World, an earth-like planet colonized for a new way of life, “one clean and simple and honest and good.” The difference between our planet and New World is that the planet contains only men, after the women were killed in a war with the native race, the Spackle. The Spackle released a germ that was lethal to women, and left a small side effect: the remaining men can now hear each other’s thoughts 24/7. The jumble of thoughts in the town inhabited by the surviving men is known as Noise. The title of the trilogy comes from the quote: “The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.” But Todd’s life changes forever when he discovers an inexplicable hole in the Noise, which turns into a secret so awful that Todd must run for his life and ultimately from the terrible truth of New World.

I (Nellie) first heard about the trilogy when I found out that Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Daisy Ridley (Star Wars, Murder on the Orient Express) had been cast in a film adaptation set to be released in 2019. I usually like reading books before seeing the movie, and I figured I had two years before the movie came out so I might as well start the trilogy. Initially, I thought the series would be another typical Young Adult trilogy like The Hunger Games or Divergent, and the first 60ish pages of the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, were. But the next 440ish pages were captivating and heart-wrenching, and I couldn’t put the book down.

As soon as Nellie finished the series (in about a week), she immediately insisted that I (Molly) read them too. I admit I was a little skeptical at first, but as soon as I got into the first book, I was hooked. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters, who were flawed but with reason. The development of the characters over the course of the trilogy is engaging and makes you question if anyone is truly in the right. The books have a unique style that is different than anything I’ve ever read before, and the writing itself makes you want to read every paragraph over and over again. Before this series, I had never been able to truly say what my favorite book was. Now there’s no question about it: the Chaos Walking trilogy, especially the last one, Monsters of Men.

We both agree that the series is both plot and character-driven, which is rare as both things are perfectly executed. The series is worthy of all the praise it has received: The Knife of Never Letting Go has won several awards including the Guardian Award and the 2008 James Tiptree, Jr. Award; the sequel, The Ask and the Answer won the 2009 Costa children’s fiction prize; and Monsters of Men won the 2011 Carnegie Medal. Monsters of Men was also nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke award for best science fiction novel, which was only the second time a YA novel made it onto the shortlist. Kirkus has dubbed the characters “heartbreakingly real” and praised Ness’s addressing of “the meaning of war and the price of peace.”

While this book may seem like just another dystopian YA novel, Ness addresses current issues such as gender roles, racism, tyranny, and war–but he doesn’t shove these topics in your face. The messages are subtle but still thought-provoking. The series will make you think about these topics, it’ll make you laugh, and it’ll make you cry. These are truly the best books we’ve come across in a while, and we highly, HIGHLY, recommend reading them. We have spotted all three books in the library at school, so go check them out. You have two weeks off of school, so get to it!


“I think maybe everybody falls…I think maybe we all do. And I don’t think that’s the asking…I think the asking is whether we get back up again.”