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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Character Connection: The Chaos Walking series

Earlier today I was having a conversation with some friends about the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, and it really brought some things to light for me.  The 3rd and final book came in the mail for me the other day, and though it is eating at me that I can't read it yet, I am just so happy to have it in my possession -- I am slightly obsessed with this series, for a number of reasons.  But my friend-chat really made me realize one of the big reasons why.
Briefly, if you're not familiar with the series, the characters live on a planet where the thoughts of all creatures (save human females) can be heard by everyone else.  It's called Noise, and it's a constant in their lives, and makes a very interesting aspect of the book.
Through much of the books, we are in Todd Hewitt's head.  Todd is a good kid in the midst of some really bad things that are going on.  His inability to cave and be a bad guy, and his utter devotion to Viola make him so endearing and fascinating, and I have loved reading the books and being in his head.
But during the friend-chat I was telling you about, we started discussing some of the minor characters, the non-human ones, and what it's like being in their heads, and I realized that they are actually a big part of my love for these books.  And though I love Todd and he would make for a great Character Connection, it's these little gems of characters that are found throughout the series that I want to share with you.

Angharrad.  There are two horses in the series who play important parts.  One is Morpeth, the horse of the domineering war-monger Mayor Prentiss.  Morpeth is a fit horse for his master, constantly sending the word "Submit.  Submit.  Submit." at those around him.  But the other is Angharrad, Todd's horse.  Angharrad is submissive and gentle, and worries about her "boy colt" Todd.  Angharrad stole my ♥.  I mean, it's just a horse, right?  But she's so endearing, and I've become completely attached to the damn thing and am terrified that something's going to happen to her and she's going to leave her boy colt all alone, or more likely, sacrifice herself for him.  And I'm warning you now, Mr Ness...I'm warning you.

Manchee.  But before Angharrad stole my heart, Todd's dog Manchee had it firmly in-paw.  Ness really captured Manchee's "dog voice" and it worked.  If you've ever had a dog, Manchee will make so much sense to you.  He reads dog and you find yourself feeling like he's your own dog.  There's the same loyalty and playfulness and curiosity all captured and thought loudly to the rest of the world.  It's funny and sweet and a great introduction to the Noise.

The Spackle teen.  Okay, this is where it gets weird. (I know, you're thinking, this is where it gets weird?).  The Spackle are an alien race [well, I suppose technically the humans are the alien race, since the Spackle are actually the planet's inhabitants], and their Noise is not in English, or any language at all.  In fact, for the most part, their Noise has been inhibited by humans, and they communicate through body language and a series of clicking noises.  Hard to connect with a character like that, right?  You would think.  But one of my favorite characters not only of the series but of recent books I've read is the angsty, petulant Spackle teen.  He can't say a thing, but there is never any doubting what he would say if he could.  I think he more than any other really demonstrates a talent for characterization on Ness' part -- he has a limited role in the books, doesn't say a damn thing, and is just angry all the time, but you understand him and sort of root for him, and really connect to this alien teen angster.  It's kind of incredible.

So.  Long story short(ish): Read these books for Todd and Viola and the interesting story that unfolds, of course.  But know too that you're going to get so much more than that, and pay attention to these weird little side characters, because they're going to steal your heart if you're not looking...


  1. you have the third one? I'm so insanely jealous, I love the series too. I know what you mean by Manchee's voice, spot on :) great post!

  2. I wish authors would heed our warnings. I don't care if she would totally sacrifice herself for him. The point is that I. Don't. Want. Her. To. Right?

    You have me so curious about this series but I am so completely not a fan of dystopian lit. (This is dystopian?) The only book I can think of that I liked is The Hunger Games and CF. Hmm. What to do?

  3. Wow, I will now definitely read the Chaos Walking series. I actually previously knew nothing about it, but it sounds like something I would LOVE!

  4. I have not heard of this series, but I like the premise of being able to hear thoughts. Sounds very interesting!

  5. Too soon, too soon.

    I am still grieving over a certain character. -sigh-

  6. I have heard wonderful things about these books! :) Thanks for the insight! I'll have to keep an eye out for them!

  7. Wow. Sounds interesting... and definitely different than anything else I've read.

  8. I think I am the friend you speak of?? :-)

    The humans in the book are great characters, but it truly is the non-human characters that make this series so unique and awesome.

    I am dying for you to read MoM. Dying, I tell you. I don't have anybody to discuss it with, and the animals are so perfect yet again.

    Hurry, Misty!!!

  9. Manchee!!! I loved that dog wholeheartedly. Perfect voice. But then I am so loving these books. Totally cannot wait for the last one.


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