Friendship. Love. Loss. Perseverance. Survival. Hope. These are the words that come to mind when I think of the "Chaos Walking" series.
I've always loved reading, so I made it a goal of mine to read as much as possible this year. After finishing my 2018 with such an empowering self-help book ("You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero), I decided that I wanted to get back to my love for fiction whilst completing more of the book challenge I've been trying to complete for two years now. By randomly choosing the category- "A book by an author you've never read before"- combined with the fact that I had interest in this series before, I finally chose the next book (which turned out to be an entire book series by Patrick Ness) that would take up an entire semester.
Being a big Tom Holland fan already, I knew that he had a new movie set to release this March titled "Chaos Walking," in which he would star alongside the current leading lady of the "Star Wars" franchise, Daisy Ridley. This concept intrigued me so much so that I looked up the source material and the plot wound up intriguing me, so I made it my mission to complete the book by the time the movie was supposed to come out.
To summarize the plot in the most vague and simplest of ways that I can, the book revolves around a young boy, Todd Hewitt, who is the youngest citizen in his home of Prentisstown. Not only is this the only place he's ever known, but this is set far into the future on another planet that humans were able to inhabit; however, the planet seems to cause something called "Noise" from the men- where everyone's thoughts are heard as clear as day from everyone else- and it seems as though this very "virus" killed off all women. Thus, Todd is raised by two of his late mother's best friends- Cillian and Ben- on a farm with his dog (and only friend), Manchee.
Life doesn't seem all that fun for young Todd, who is nearing officially becoming a man with his thirteenth birthday coming up. One day, though, he comes across a void in the Noise in the woods by his farm and he is forced to grow up all at once when he starts to discover that the world he's always known isn't what it seems at all. Before he knows it, he is on the run with Manchee and comes to find a girl in the woods who looks like she just survived a spaceship crash.
This girl is none other than Viola Eade, a thirteen-year-old girl who has only known life in the confines of a giant spaceship whose sole purpose is to inhabit this planet. While her family was exclusively chosen to reach the planet first, a tragic accident happens and she is left to be the only survivor. She soon meets Todd in the woods, but he finds it hard to communicate with her because she is still in a state of shock where she cannot speak (as well as the fact that this is the first girl he has ever known to come in contact with).
Adventure ensues for these two young-ins on-the-run with a "talking" dog as they try to find the place of peace, so-called New Haven, before Mayor Prentiss and his army gets a hold of them first. All the while Todd learns about the world around him that he's been sheltered from all his life while Viola learns the same whilst trying to live with the Noise; an unbreakable bond ensues, and these children experience more obstacles than they could ever imagine.
The front of the book says,"A read-alone, stay-up-way-too-late book," and of course I thought this was another silly quote that they try to put on the front of books just to make you want to read it more- but boy, was the Chicago Tribune right. I found myself reading on the weekends for hours and even bringing the book to school sometimes just so I can know what happens. This, of course, led me to reading the two other books in the series afterward, and as dense as they were, I found myself glued to every page. As it turns out, the movie's release date got pushed to next year and they even shot re-shoots while I read the last book, so it all worked out in my favor after all.
The style of these books definitely reminded me of the young adult sci-fi dystopian novels by the likes of "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent" that I grew up with in my tween years, but this series was written in a much more darker and realistic tone. While Todd and Viola are meant to only be twelve and thirteen in the novels, I kept picturing them to be in their late teens, at least, because of everything that they go through. It's definitely a graphic read, but it's so interesting and insane that you can't not put it down.
There are so many aspects of this book that I love- from the whole concept of Noise to the local species of the planet called the Spackle. Just the idea of having humans inhabit another planet and start life all over again under these conditions is simply mind-boggling. But what kept me most invested in the series, though, was the main characters.
Todd and Viola both prove to be strong individuals on their own (especially for them being so young), but the relationship they found with each other is something you don't see, nor experience, all the time. From the get-go, you are curious to see what kind of friendship these two kids will have, but the situation they find themselves in and being on the run together forces them to have to trust one another. By the end of the first book, you are rooting for their friendship whole-heartedly (and maybe even something more than that for them).
Their relationship is easily one of my absolute favorites that I've been able to read and see the progression from total strangers to inseparable individuals. I won't spoil the rest of the series, but Todd and Viola are now two of my most favorite characters in any book or movie I've seen or read (and that says a lot).
It's a relationship I wish I could read for the first time again, but at least I have those pages to look back on whenever I want to reread it; not to mention a full-length movie is coming out based on it featuring some of my favorite actors! I can honestly picture Holland as Todd, and I had a different idea of Viola in my mind but I can totally see Ridley killing it on the big screen with her character. Since the movie is set to release sometime next year now, I am so ready to just see one of my favorite book series now come to life with actors who will do Todd and Viola justice.
Just like how the people on Viola's spaceship wanted to travel to a whole other planet to make a new life, take a leap of faith and try out "Chaos Waling" for yourself- you never know what kind of story you'll become invested in.