I am aware that this title and header image is rather deceiving and mwaha you fell victim to my cunning trap. This is in fact NOT a Q & A post, but rather a book discussion of sorts. Or at least, my version of one. So yes, I’m still on my Chaos Walking rant. This is the second last one, I promise.
The book has left me with this idea of two terrorist organisations, neither completely in the wrong, but neither completely in the right either. Isn’t it funny how life is so deeply influenced by perspective? The Mayor terrorises the town of Haven with his new rules and ideology (very much portraying what I imagine Hitler to have been like), while Mistress Coyle uses more guerilla tactics to terrorise New Prentisstown. Each side has their own perspective on why their version of the story is the correct one.
Take this picture for instance. I find it nicely encapsulates the ideology I’m attempting to portray.
So which side is wrong? And which is right? Or perhaps, is life even that black and white? Almost never. Like most things, it’s all to do with the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we reinforce into others. Click here to read about me discussing this concept further.
When you’re engrossing yourself in this book (accurate word choice), it’s fascinating to notice the way that each side plays up the other side to be the villainous culprit in every situation. I couldn’t help noticing the similarities between this book and The Hunger Games series, with there being two sides, with each side housing a main protagonist that beckons tremendous potential and influence in the overall story line. Each side crafts their own version of events to influence the opinions of their protagonists and turn them against one another. Even the warfare was similar in torture versus guerilla. The manipulation tactics of the Mayor and Mistress Coyle are incredible to follow as they skillfully use their words to twist and bend the thought patterns of others to their will. This was definitely my favourite part of this book. The level of cunning moves played by each group keeps you guessing at which side you should support. One moment I’m rooting for the Answer and then you discover the treachery of Mistress Coyle; then I’m rooting for the Ask, which… by the end of the book, you’re pretty dizzy from switching sides left and right more often than a tennis rally.
The strategy between the two organisations is similar to playing a game of chess. Except the board is on fire. And the room is on fire. And you’re screaming because you’re on fire. It’s far more complicated than you first perceive.
This leads me to the phrase “grey matter”. It’s a phrase I use to describe any situation in which there is no clear black and white. No clear wrong or right. Sometimes the morals of a particular circumstance sit more on a continuum than anything else. And we’re constantly left in the middle. This matter falls within a grey area. Do you choose the Ask? Or do you choose the Answer?
What If we chose neither the path? What if for once, you neither Ask, nor Answer, but rather just remain silent?