The Chaos Walking trilogy begins in an unknown time and place where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts (the never-ending internal cacophony is known as Noise). In books 1 and 2, some details are slowly revealed about how and why this society developed. In this third book, Todd and Viola are back (two very endearing and strong – though young - main characters). This final book is all about war, as you may have guessed from the title. The evil Mayor Prentiss is still seeking as much power as he can take, a group of rebels is using more and more violent methods to stop him, and a third party, the Spackle, are joining in the battle (you’ll have to read books 1 and 2 to learn more about them). Against this backdrop, the ever-present Noise continues, as Todd and Viola move toward adulthood and have to make decisions that could affect the future of all of their fellow citizens.
Like the first two books, book 3 is action-packed, filled with violence, battles, and increasing horrors. But this trilogy is so much more than action/adventure in a mysterious dystopian/science fiction environment. Ness fills the series – and especially this final book – with thoughtful and thought-provoking complications. In this case, both Todd and Viola are constantly facing serious, life-changing decisions with deep moral implications. They wrestle with issues that have plagued mankind for centuries: Does the end justify the means? Is violence for the right reasons any better than violence for the wrong reasons? If you choose the lesser of two evils, is it still evil?
The backdrop of war makes all of these issues very real and imperative for the two young heroes. Through it all is the constant stress and chaos of the Noise echoing in everyone’s heads. Like in the best dystopian fiction and science fiction, the author makes us think about our own society. Ness certainly wants us to consider the moral implications of both war and terrorism, and I think the Noise is a symbol of what’s occurring in our own world right now – the ever-present, nonstop flow of information from multiple sources every moment of every day.
I highly recommend this series to teens, young adults, and adults of all ages. It is a fast-paced, interesting, compelling story that is also thoughtful. This is my favorite kind of dystopian fiction – the kind that gives you insight into our own society and makes you think – in a similar vein as The Hunger Games trilogy (especially book 3, Mockingjay, which also focuses on war) and the Unwind series. I can’t wait to read more from Patrick Ness.