Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor's new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode... (Synopsis from Goodreads)
At the time of writing this, I've only just finished this book. But, just SO MANY FEELINGS, I think that I at least have to start this review right now to do the book any justice. If you haven't read the first novel in the Chaos Walking series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, I would strongly recommend you go read it right this second. And you can also read my review, just to fully immerse yourself in the world of Ness.
So we last left Todd and Viola at the end of a gripping a violent chase towards the hopeful sanctuary of Haven, only to be met by the rifle of Davy Prentiss. And with Viola's life hanging in the balance, is Haven all they had hoped it would be?
Well - LEAST SHOCKING SPOILER IN THE WORLD ALERT - no, it isn't. Of course it isn't. Heck, we're only at the start of the second book of the trilogy, guys. We couldn't expect possibly the cutest sort-of couple in the world of YA to live happliy ever after just yet, could we?
Can I just talk about Todd and Viola for a bit? The bond that they formed in the first book is intensified, as everything they were running towards is ripped apart in the first half of this book. This is a YA romance like no other. In that it's not really a romance. Or maybe it's not just a romance. You're never allowed to forget how young they are, especially Todd with his sheltered perceptions, and the strength of feeling between them is clearly something that they can't fully comprehend, but can just feel. If this sort of bond was transferred to a contemporary tale, they would have so many hang ups about what each other thought, what other people think of them and each other, but here, it's just so powerful and overriding, and the writing is just beautiful. I just love them so much! But Ness really puts them through the mill here, in more ways than one. I was cursing him on many an occasion whilst reading this, but all these trials just makes the realtionship so much more moving.
This book is in very different territory to the first one. Although both are fast paced and exciting, this is so much more complex and thought-provoking. Mainly due to the introduction of a dual-narrative. This is the first time we get a glimpse inside Viola's thoughts and everything is so much more richer for it. Where Todd struggles to articulate his feelings and understanding of the situations he finds himself in, Viola is a reliable, intelligent narrator. I'm a big fan of the dual narrative, but, more often than not, I find myself preferring one narrator over the other and itching to get back to their tale, with the other perspective just dragging the story along. Not so here. The plot is tight, with both sides interweaving and tightening together like a rope that's being pulled to breaking point. Todd is well, Todd. You just feel everything with him, every blast of pain, every furrowed brow, every scrap and punch up. I LOVE TODD.
The world that we were introduced to in the first book is carefully built upon with new locations and characters added to the mix, all complex, believable, flawed. You name it, they've got a chip on their shoulder about it. And it is here we fully get to witness a villain of truly awesome proportions. Not content with showing blatant evil and ego rolled into one, we get an insight as to how a good person can fall under the spell of a tyrant. Frightening stuff.
I won't say too much about the plot, just that it raises so many questions and issues about morality and maturity. Yes, I rate a plot in terms of how much it makes my brain hurt (in a good way). This book = top hurty brain rating from Anna.
This is a blinding read. Blinding. I really enjoyed The Knife of Never Letting Go, but this just pushes the story and the writing up to a whole other level.
Keep you eyes peeled for my review of Monsters of Men. Coming (fairly) soon...