This is the second book in
the Chaos Walking trilogy. The first book is The Knife of Never Letting Go. The
series is about people who have moved from earth to New Earth where the men are
affected by a virus that means everyone can hear their thoughts, a phenomenon
referred to as Noise. This doesn’t affect the women. The protagonist is Todd
Hewitt, the last boy in Prentisstown, a town where all the women died. Right
before Todd turns 14 (and into a man) he finds a girl, something he thought to
be impossible, and she doesn’t have Noise. His uncles tell him the Mayor of
Prentisstown is a psycho and they send him away with the girl, Viola. Viola is
from a group of settlers from Old Earth.
There will be some
spoilers for book one, because it’s hard to explain this book without revealing
anything from the first one.
The book starts off right
after the end of book one. Todd and Viola, who has been shot incidentally, show
up in Haven and meet the Mayor of Prentisstown, who has arrived before them.
Parts of the army took a different route and beat Todd and Viola to Haven. The
Mayor takes Viola to a House of Healing so he can hold it over Todd. Todd is
imprisoned and Mayor Prentiss reinvents himself as President Prentiss and
renames Haven New Prentisstown. Viola is put to work in the Healing house after
she is well and Todd is imprisoned. Because the Mayor is a stand-up guy he
separates the men from the women and stops giving out the cure for the Noise.
He puts the Spackle (the indigenous people of New Earth) to work as slave
labor. He eventually starts making the distinctions between men and women
bigger. He refuses to let men and women see their spouses and children for
example. Soon a faction of women, and some men, called the Answer, led by
Mistress Coyle (a Healer), leaves town and starts a war. To beat the Answer the
Mayor starts his own crew, called the Ask, and you know things happen. (I would
like to point out that in Chaos Walking world “an ask” is a question, I’m not
trying to be patronizing, but it confused me). Todd and Viola are pressganged
into service on either side of the war and action is afoot.
Todd Hewitt – the last boy
of Prentisstown is no longer a boy, not because he has followed the rules of
Prentisstown, but because he has become a man in his own right. He is
believable, and relatable. He grows immensely in this book, he turns into a
man, and he learns about his world, and he learns about what he is willing to
do and sacrifice. Todd is special from the perspective of Prentisstown. Without
spoiling it too much he is kind and soft. I am not in any way saying this is
bad, like Harry in Harry Potter Todd has the ability to love no matter what
happens to him. He is just lovely in that way, and when he is faced with the
things he has to do he just shuts off so he doesn’t have to deal with it, not
turning to cruelty really. And Todd still holds onto his innocence I guess. I
love him. He is also flawed, he finds his emotions very troubling and he
constantly tries to prove himself as a man instead of embracing his assets,
which leads to him being mean, rash and making bad decisions.
Viola Eade – Viola is the
only survivor of a scouting party sent to New Earth to find a good place for
the settlers to land. Viola is left alone on a world she doesn’t know when her
parents die and the only person she knows is Todd. She is devoted to him and
she loves him and whatever she does is done with the aim to help him. Viola is
more pragmatic and practical than Todd, who tends to go with his heart. Viola
will make hard choices and do what she has to in order to help. She joins
Mistress Coyle’s cause even if she doesn’t like her and she fights for the
Answer. She holds firmly to her morals and won’t hurt anyone unless she has to.
She will hurt people though, if she has to. And I really like her for her
practicality and her pragmatism. And she fights for what’s right, not only
Todd. I really love Viola.
Mayor Prentiss – Mayor
Prentiss was the mayor of Prentisstown, is the Mayor of New Prentisstown and
styles himself President of New Earth. He is relentless and cruel, and
sadistic, and he is completely sure he’s right. It’s impossible to argue with
him because he is convinced what he’s doing is right. He has found a way to
brainwash and control his people, and he uses it to maximum effect. People who
are completely sure they are right will not be convinced they are not and they
can make coherent and good arguments for why they are right and that way
they’ll control more people. He can twist any situation to fit his didactic and
he is completely ruthless in his quest for power. He is terrifying.
Mistress Coyle – Mistress
Coyle is in many ways similar to Mayor Prentiss. She is seen as the “good” one,
even though she is just as ruthless as the Mayor. She is willing to go to
extreme lengths to beat the mayor, sacrificing friends and coworkers for the
cause. She is originally a healer and used to sit on the council in Haven.
During the war against the Spackle she used some unpleasant methods and was
thrown off the council. She wants equality and cooperation, and while her
idealistic goals are commendable and the Mayor is a crazy asshole she does blow
up people and hurt people, going against her oaths (basically the Hippocratic
Oath of “Do no harm”). Because the Mayor is so crazy Mistress Coyle’s idealism
seems justified and right, but her methods are just as horrible as the Mayor’s,
and she doesn’t really ingratiate herself with the people.
I loved it. I really loved
the first book too, I thought it was amazing and unlike anything I had ever
read. I worried the second book fell short, but it did not, it was amazing. It
was AMAZING. There is seriously action all the time. It never stops. The way
the book is written makes everything feel urgent.
The book is split up
between Todd and Viola’s points of view. It means you get to see what’s going
on on either side of the war. You also get to see the justifications of either
side, and the reasoning for what they’re doing. I found it interesting to see
how Mistress Coyle and Mayor Prentiss spin their sides of the war. I also found
it interesting to see how Todd and Viola see their side of the war and why they
do what they eventually end up doing and how it makes them feel. It’s
interesting to see what war does to people and how it changes your behavior and
priorities. And how it rearranges how you deal with your priorities. Viola and
Todd are so deeply devoted to each other and it is interesting to see what they
sacrifice to help and see each other.
There is action pretty
much from the word go and I felt like my heart was in my throat the whole time.
I didn’t want to put it down. I can’t wait to read the last book in the series,
although I’m also worried about what will happen when it’s over. Also the book
ends with a major, potentially devastating cliffhanger, so that’s going to be
an issue in the third book I’m sure. Yeah. I’m excited. I love it.
The writing is really
interesting. Todd was born and raised on New Earth and the writing from his
expression is changed. It might also has to do with his age and maturity,
because I feel like it’s changed from the first book. Ness writes things like
“explosion” as “exploshun”, and “you are”, and “your” as “yer”, which is not
confusing because context guys. It’s actually pretty cool. I realize it will be
annoying for people, but I think it makes it more believable, because language
evolves and changes, and Todd lives in a small uneducated society, so they will
change the way they write and say things.
Viola comes from a more
educated society of settlers, and the writing when it’s Viola’s perspective is
grammatically correct and the spelling is correct. I think it’s really
interesting, it differentiates them, and it made them more believable, it made
them more solid. It made them seem like real people.
Also, the world they live
in, or the world Ness has created, is interesting and impressive. He hasn’t
explained everything, and there is so much history and stuff that is not really
explained, but you know what is going on, and he just reveals slowly and
interestingly, for example the Spackles. I also love the creepiness of the
Mayor and his bizarre belief system, which just creeps into you and the story,
and it’s amazing. He is so creepy.
I thought it was amazing.
I gave it five stars on Goodreads, I was excited. I think it does a good job of
showing how war affects people, of how it makes you make tough choices, how it
lowers your morals and changes how you react to things. It’s believable even
though it’s set on a different planet in the future. The world building
continues to be flawless and it’s just so amazing. I can’t wait to read the