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on 27 October 2010
Story-telling doesn't get any better than this. I defy anyone to start "The Knife of Never Letting Go", the first book in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy, and not follow it through to the conclusion of "Monsters of Men", the third.

Ness' universe has been thought through in intricate detail, his imagining of his other world the best I have read since Tolkien forty years ago. The plot is complex, multi-layered and ever-shifting, but it is brought to a terrific conclusion. The storyline seduces and deceives all the time: just when you think it is going one way, another twist is in store. The intriguing use of different fonts for different narrators, and especially for the excellent device of the "noise", works very well indeed. (Looking for an insight into the mind of man's best friend? Manchee is the best talking dog in fiction.)

There are cliff-hangers a-plenty, but the author has a lot of plot up his sleeve. He does not let up, and he doesn't pull his punches. As well as love and courage and integrity in this trilogy, there are death and torture and betrayal. This is particularly true of Book Two ("The Ask and The Answer") where deception, betrayal and duplicity constantly wrong-foot the reader. Throughout, there are some stunningly well-written characters, particularly the unhinged Mayor Prentiss, some of whose deeds could have come from the more sadistic pages of Cormac McCarthy. "... the desire of most folks is to be told what to do," he says, in the all too reasonable tones of an off-world Stalin. "People say they want freedom, but what they really want is freedom from worry. If I take care of their problems, they don't mind being told what to do." (Pretensions towards dictatorship and looking for a psychopathic role model? The Mayor is your man.)

Descriptions of action in fiction can sometimes get bogged down in detail. Not so here. Whether describing the tense waterfall fight with Aaron in Book One or the war that follows, Ness' use of simple, single-line - sometimes single-word - paragraphs generates an excitement that will have you whipping breathlessly through the pages. This style is not an affectation - it is used very effectively indeed. Despite the simple language and the cliff-hangers that make it difficult to put these books aside, Ness is able to engage the reader in profound moral dilemmas. Are my enemy's enemies truly my friends and, if so, what compromises should we accept to form an alliance? To what extent should the many be saved at the expense of the few? Even...might the Mayor be right?

There is no point in just buying the first one of this trilogy. Buy the complete set right at the beginning. You'll want them, and you won't want to wait for the post.
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on 12 September 2017
I know they are classified as children's books but I recommend that all adults should read them. They were introduced to me by my grandson & son-in-law & I have found the whole series compulsive.
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on 18 April 2017
I nearly threw this book across the room. Twice. I was that emotionally involved in it.
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on 18 August 2013
Completely enthralling. I recommend anybody of any age to read this trilogy. If ever a book would make a great movie this is it. But the movie would still pale into insignificance. This book is a true masterpiece.
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on 25 September 2017
Brilliant finale to the Chaos Walking trilogy
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on 29 November 2017
As described
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on 28 June 2017
I really enjoyed it.
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on 5 March 2017
Third book in the series and an excellent conclusion.
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on 1 July 2010
When I received The Knife of Never Letting Go: bk. 1 (Chaos Walking) as a trial copy, I loved the book so much that it genuinely infuriated me when it came to an end without resolution. Having finished the third and final book, which really does come to a resolution, I find myself almost depressed at the realisation that there won't be more. This third volume is just as riveting, powerful and uncompromising as the other two. Patrick Ness has genuinely created a classic series that deserves the wider recognition given to such authors as Philip Pullman - and in doing so Patrick has reaffirmed the value of the book as a medium for telling stories; you could try to convey the concept of Noise on film but the book will always be the best way that this unique story can and should be told.

It is rare for an author to have so many characters who are so extremely well conceived and realised that you genuinely want to know everything you can about them. Todd, Viola, David Prentiss, Mistress Coyle and 1017 are all central to this third volume, in which the President's actions have led the settlers old and new of New World into all out war with the native Spackle, who turn out to be a much greater threat as an attacking force than most of the humans had previously believed. The plot should not be spoiled by giving out any detail further to this, so instead let me say that, as was the case with the second volume (The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking)), one of the joys of this third book is how you the reader are always trying to get into President Prentiss's head and understand his motivation, but this time around you also get to learn a lot more of the Spackle view of the world - as joining Todd and Viola in the narrative is the Spackle known to Todd as 1017.

Again, I can't give anything away about the ending, but will say to you that it is one of the best-written endings I have read in my life. I read the last several pages four times in a row before I put the book down.

I am so grateful to Amazon Vine and the publisher for sending me the first volume in hardcover back in 2008, for it led to me buying the other two volumes in hardcover and I now having a matching set of what has to be the best designed book and plastic dust jacket combination ever to have seen a bookshelf. If you can get your hands on all three in hardcover, I strongly recommend you do so.
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on 16 May 2010
"War," says the Mayor. "At last."

This is how the final part of Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy starts. Towards the end of Monsters of Men, I can only feel awe, hope, and respect. Awe for the talent with which Patrick Ness has managed to conclude this trilogy. Hope, that he will continue to write books of this stature, and respect for the way in which he lets his main characters make decisions.

If in The Knife we mainly got to see things and read things through "the voice" of Todd, Ness had already added a layer to that in The Ask and the Answer when we get both Todd and Viola's perspective. In Monsters of Men, however, Ness now adds a third - and again a completely `different' voice: that of The Return, one of the Spackle who is - like Todd and Viola also are - caught between cultures, one who sees and speaks with the voice of the Clearing and the voice of the Land. All these `voices' are linked in a completely unique way by Ness's writing style (and obviously also by the existence of `the Noise', be it controlled or uncontrolled Noise...), a style which is quite daring for a YA-novel.

Added to the imaginative writing style are themes which are some of the most commonly used themes of YA-fiction, such as coming-of-age, love, power, etc. Ness also uses these themes, but he does it in such a clever way that the trilogy easily surpasses the level of `mere' YA-fiction. If you are just interested in reading a good adventure book, then the trilogy, will provide that thrilling ride for you. If you are interested in reading a coming-of-age story, then Todd's story will appeal to you. If you are interested in romance, then you will like how Todd's tale is intertwined with Viola's. If you like things a little bit more fantastic and sci-fi, then the trilogy will also be to your liking. However, it should be clear that you can't just pin down the trilogy to one particular genre.

Like any good piece of literature it crosses boundaries, building up layer upon layer, even treading on the path of social commentary and philosophy. It confronts you with the way in which our society is set up, forcing you to compare it with the way in which `the Land' is organized, with the way the Mayor wants to rule society; how Todd and Viola see things; and how conflicted they both are about having to make decisions that have an impact on not just themselves but an entire society.

These books can and should be read by anyone who's interested in utterly awe-inspiring and thought-provoking literature. The Chaos Walking trilogy was a joy to read... Thank you, Patrick Ness!
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