It’s ten years since the first book of the Chaos Walking trilogy was published. In that time, the face of YA has changed a lot.
In reading TKONLG for the first time, it seems to show its age. There are tropes that are now so familiar that they come across as predictable (such as an antagonist keeping up a pursuit over hundreds of miles despite what should be life-ending injuries – this no longer comes across as frightening, rather as dull and something that should have been questioned before publication). There is also the problem of Noise, which, although clever at first, does not really make sense. How could a town full of men be expected to guard their thoughts to such an extent that they could keep such a huge secret from Todd? This is inconsistent with other thoughts we ‘hear’, as secrets are shown to slip out easily, and accidentally. The idea that not one man would ever think back on those secret events when Todd was in ‘earshot’ seems too far-fetched.
TKONLG is, broadly, a travelling book. Todd and Viola move from place to place, being chased after, with everyone they meet refusing to tell them what’s going on, until one character reveals all the secrets in one conversation. Again, this trope of a character surviving just long enough to give the reader a lot of exposition feels frustrating and too convenient.
After travelling across the planet and losing Todd’s dog, Todd and Viola gain only a secret about the past in exchange for their travelling. The book ends with Todd back in the control of the people he ran away from at the start. Admittedly, there is a cliffhanger that some readers may find intriguing enough to pick up the second book, but this reader will just wait for the movie.