Wow, oh wow. I finished the book this afternoon and I still have chills from the ending. I realize that a lot of people will have already read this one, which is the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and came out several years ago, but it was new to me and I just loved it. At first I wasn’t sure if I would, as the narrator has an accent which takes some getting used to, and the book is well-crafted to his point of view, so that you really feel like you are inside his head throughout the telling of the story.
Todd Hewitt is a 12-year-old boy who has grown up in the New World colony of Prentisstown, where only men live in the constant hum of their ‘noise’–their thoughts that they and everyone around them can hear. Todd is one month away from becoming a man, a Prentisstown ritual surrounded in mystery. In fact, he is the last boy in the town, being the youngest of all the surviving colonists. This place is all he knows, and when he must suddenly leave it, his physical journey to a new place matches the mental and emotional journey he must undergo to learn the truth of his town’s sad history. I don’t want to tell too much of the story as part of what makes the book so compelling is that as the reader, we learn things along the way with Todd, as piece-by-piece the puzzle is filled in and his situation becomes more clear.
The closest thing I could compare that book to is The Hunger Games–it’s definitely dystopian, unflinchingly harsh as The Hunger Games can be, and yet through telling this story of a fantastical world, revealing home truths about our own reality. I thought Ness’s exploration of male-female relationships was particularly interesting.
I’ve already requested the sequel from my library, so I’ll hopefully be able to pick up where the cliff hanger ending left off soon. And if you haven’t read the book yet, I highly recommend it. It’s an excellent piece of writing–suspenseful, insightful, and full of rich characterization.
Buy from The Book Depository*