So, week two and day eight roll around and we’re still going… And the challenge today is to name
A series everyone should read.
Now I struggle with this concept. Why should everyone read the same thing? Why would one series – which is a massive investment of time – be something everyone should read? Why should anyone read anything for that matter? I personally read for a variety of reasons:
- I want to: it’s a deeply pleasurable and immersive experience, a joy;
- I cannot imagine not reading any more than I can imagine not breathing;
- I love the breadth of experiences that reading offers: to live as a Nigerian chief, an eighteenth century governess, a dragon rider, a prophet, a detective in Dublin, an alien with two mouths incapable of lying; a black freed slave discovering how to build aquariums, a lexicographer seeking her mother, a mother imprisoned in an American jail;
- I love the play of language and words and how each writer I discover takes these meagre twenty-six letters and crafts poetry and life from them;
I do not read because I believe or have been told that I should. In fact, I’m not sure there is anything more likely to turn anyone off reading than that judgmental and dictatorial should.
And series are long and lengthy and generally rather niche: I wouldn’t wish to inflict The Wheel of Time or Malazan Book of the Fallen, Sanderson’s Mistborn or Stormlight Archive or even A Song of Fire and Ice series on anyone who wasn’t already inclined towards fantasy; and similarly I’d not suggest anyone not already open to YA to start on the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or Artemis Fowl; nor the Hunger Games or Divergent series on anyone not inclined toward YA dystopia.
Maybe Terry Pratchett… There is so much richness in the Discworld series and such fun, humour and humanity.
So if we twist the category a little, we can try to select a series that everyone could enjoy and may find interesting and, sticking with Young Adult, I’d go for either Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials or Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series.
The Phillip Pullman might not be for everyone, to be honest: there is some fairly overt anti-Church sentiment there, particularly the Catholic Church embodied in the Magisterium and some rather blunt child-snatching tendencies. But the scale and scope of the multiple worlds that open up, the imaginative twist that created the daemons, the creation of the children Will and Lyra, the mythic and classical allusions create something wonderfully rich and with a cracking good adventure story.
The Chaos Walking trilogy takes place on a distant planet, colonised by humanity who appear to have subdued through violence the indigenous species. As a result of that war, men were able to hear the thoughts and images and colours of the inside of other men’s minds.
Chaos Walking is a young adult science fiction series written by U.S.-born British novelist Patrick Ness. It is set in a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise. The series is named after a line in the first book: “The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.” The series consists of a trilogy of novels and three short stories.
The three novels feature two adolescents, Todd Hewitt and Viola Eade, who encounter various moral issues and high stakes as the planet around them erupts into war. The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008) begins with Todd being forced to flee his town after discovering a patch of silence, free of Noise. In the second book, The Ask and the Answer (2009), tensions rise as a civil war between two opposing factions forms, and in the final book, Monsters of Men (2010) the indigenous species of New World rebels against the humans just as a ship full of new settlers is set to arrive on the planet.
The series has won almost every major children’s fiction award in the UK, including the 2008 Guardian award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Monsters of Men won the Carnegie Medal in 2011. The series has been praised for its handling of themes such as gender politics, redemption, the meaning of war, and the unclear distinction between good and evil, all threaded through its complex, fast-paced narrative.
The first novel is narrated entirely by Todd, the second is told through the viewpoints of both Todd and Viola and the third book is narrated by Todd, Viola and The Return.
So, yeah… if I had to choose a series for this category, this would be it: Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness. To be honest, the mere title as a description of being human, just those two words, Chaos Walking, is genius!