My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Knife of Never Letting Go Chaos Walking Book One was all rush rush rush, with characters on the run for most of the story. Here, there’s still plenty of suspense and action, but most of the story takes place in and around Haven. This second volume also switches off between Todd and Viola’s viewpoints – I can’t quite decide if this combination gives the story less momentum or not. With alternating viewpoints, Ness can leave us hanging with one character, then the other, and so on, which adds to the tension but doesn’t necessarily contribute to a breathless pace. Instead, we spend more time seeing how Viola and Todd react differently to their circumstances. We (shudder) get to spend more time seeing how Mayor Prentiss thinks and acts. The history of the planet unfolds a bit more, and political tensions and compromises play a bigger part in the story.
I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that it’s best to read the books in order, and that I think the series will appeal to kids who like fast-paced stories with good character development, and who don’t mind a fairly heavy dystopian setting. There’s a fair amount of violence that could be too much for younger readers, even though it’s never gratuitous and the moral implications are always key to the story.