Todd and Viola – and a growing cast of others – have to fight for peace with the native ‘Spackle’, as well as keeping their own warring camps apart.
Phew. I’m exhausted. This is the third of the “Chaos Walking” trilogy, and I’m as war-weary as Todd and Viola. The pace is frantic, the writing dense and the characters actions thick and fast.
New this time is a “Spackle” character – they call themselves the Land, with obvious references to Native Americans (Or for a more modern audience, Avatar), complete with complex culture, nobility and a deep connection to the planet. They even ride their mounts standing.
Patrick Ness isn’t afraid to use the page to show you what’s going on. Explosion? BOOM. - in size 40 font. Different character voices? Use a different font for each for extra emphasis.
After three books, some of his writing style was starting to grate though –
He will write something –
And then –
And do this –
And then do that –
...all the way down a page or two. His stream-of-consciousness style I can get behind most of the time though, tumbling together his sentences and images into a single paragraph. I certainly can’t complain, since I use it in my own writing style.
And as usual, his characters are full and three-dimensional and his world building is flawless, even the bit players like Ivan (who goes where the power is, something Ness uses to good effect).
The characters inaction frustrated me. Todd is over there, Viola is over here, and they spend a fair part of the book apart, worrying about each other, fighting to keep the warring factions apart. I wanted to shout at them: PICK YOURSELVES UP AND MOVE TO ANOTHER PART OF THE PLANET.
I was as frustrated as they were at the endless point-scoring of the Mayor and Mistress Coyle. What does it matter who wins the peace? All that matters is the end result. Not one person had the wisdom to tell them that.
Ness creates such a realistic world that I wanted to shout at the people who lived there to grow up. Now I know how it feels to be a politician, trying to bring peace to a war-torn country. No one can see past the hate and stupidity to see what bloody idiots they are. No one can see the futility.
I need to talk about The Mayor, the most developed character in the book. I never trusted him...well, maybe for chapter or two, but he never seemed anything less than sociopathic. Like most dictators, he was charming with it, able to (literally) bend minds to his will. He claimed that the best parts of Todd rubbed off on him. I didn’t believe him...until his actions at the climax of the book.
It’s a long haul from the start of book one right the way to the end of book three – it’s about 1500 pages, actually. I’ve been on that world with Todd and Viola, fought as they fought, felt their frustrations and their exhaustion. Ness is one hell of a writer, and I’ll be back for more.