Author: Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking, book 1
Genre: YA fiction
Recommendation: Interesting science fiction YA novel, but you better be prepared to read the whole series because the first book ends in cliffhanger.
Summary: Humans have left Earth and moved to a faraway world to colonize. A second wave of immigrants is coming, but what they don't know is there is a virus on the planet that infects every man and broadcasts their thoughts all the time. Now a boy from a colony and a girl from the scout mission must make a journey to warn the settlers.
Reactions: I have seen this book pop-up on a number of blogs and decided to give it a try. I like the premise of the story, and found the mechanics and consequences of mind sharing that's limited to men only pretty interesting. As you may imagine, it creates quite a bit of tension between genders, and some entertaining situations.
The main characters are an almost-teenage boy named Todd and a girl from the second wave of immigrants, Viola. Todd is a pretty sympathetic character, he runs around, makes mistakes, acts in not-so-smart ways, but also has a big heart. Viola, on the other hand comes off pretty reserved, and to me she doesn't feel entirely authentic. Together with Todd's dog Manchee, who can also talk, they spend the majority of the book running away from people fighting them.
The plot moves quite briskly and has a surprising amount of violence for a novel aimed at 13-year olds. People get stabbed, tortured, killed, kicked, drugged, etc. I am surprised the two characters are still able to move at the end of the novel. The writing itself is easy to read and the reading goes quickly. The book does employ a very irritating technique of misspelling the words to show off the main character's "uneducated" talking, which I tried really hard to ignore.
So it took me only two sittings to finish the book. Unfortunately, the finish of the book was a big disappointment to me as it ended on a cliffhanger. I found that so entirely irritating, that I am not even sure I will pick up the rest of the books in the series despite enjoying the novel up to that point. I might change my mind eventually :).
All in all, it's a reasonably interesting science fiction YA novel with a cool premise, but rather (overly) violent and with a cliffhanger ending.