Perhaps I’ve just maxed out on dystopian YA literature. Perhaps this is one of those YA novels that is much more popular among its target audience (i.e., adolescents) than it is among jaded adults like me. Whatever the case, persevering through this bloated 600+ page conclusion to the Chaos Walking trilogy was a slog.
My antipathy for the series (and for this novel in particular) may have something to do with the narrative whiplash I experienced. While I generally have no issues dealing with multiple narrative perspectives in a novel, Ness overused the technique. Just three narrators (Todd, Viola, and an alien Spackle first called 1017 and then the Sky—don’t ask) tell this overwrought tale of non-stop battle for the New World on an unnamed planet, yet the narration switches perspectives every 3 or 4 pages—and perhaps the author or the editors supposed it would be helpful to use a unique font for each narrative voice, but that choice—along with the use of a giant font for explosions (BOOM!) and other loud exclamations—simply creates fatigue. I had to exert so much energy trying to keep track of the ever-shifting narration that I soon grew weary of the endless fighting, explosions, betrayals, and fabricated cliffhangers at the end of seemingly every episode.
Beneath this narrative clutter lies an earnest metaphor about love, war, communication, empathy, colonialism, cooperation, power, fatherhood, and a host of other “important” themes, but for me it just never came together.