Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Chaos” as Want to Read:
The Chaos
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Chaos

3.05 of 5 stars 3.05  ·  rating details  ·  336 ratings  ·  85 reviews
An acclaimed fantasy author navigates the world between myth and chaos in this compelling exploration of identity, told with a Caribbean lilt.

Sixteen-year-old Scotch struggles to fit in—at home she’s the perfect daughter, at school she’s provocatively sassy, and thanks to her mixed heritage, she doesn’t feel she belongs with the Caribbeans, whites, or blacks. And even more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Chaos, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Chaos

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,779)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I freakingADORED this book. I'm really heartbroken that it's just a touch too mature for my local middle school booktalks.

It starts out as a quite realistic urban Canadian story about a black girl and her dance team drama. Her brother's been in prison for drugs, her parents are superstrict, and she's having serious friend troubles.

And I woulda been fine with it staying that way, to be perfectly honest. Scotch has a strong voice. She's got some serious conflict going on and I was interested in s
“Know Yourself”, says 16 year old Sojourner “Scotch” Smith’s English teacher as though Scotch has not been struggling with the issue of identity all her life. Her father is a white Jamaican, her mother a black Canadian. She thinks of herself as black but her skin tone is so light, she can easily “pass” for something else (not that she wants to but it has been pointed to her by clueless people who think they are helping ). She also deals with the unfair expectations from her traditional father on ...more
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Scotch just wanted to spend the night at a poetry slam with her brother after a long day. But things are never easy for Scotch, whose mixed-race heritage makes her feel like an outsider in every social group. But race is the least of her worries when strange things start to happen: a volcano appears in the Toronto Bay, and her brother disappears. Scotch's world turns to chaos a
I really hate to have to give a Nalo Hopkinson book only two stars, especially her first young adult novel. I looked forward to it for so long, AND it was political and talked about queers, ableism, and racism. But, it really was only "ok." I couldn't really connect with the main character, the dialogue was stilted and didactic, and, well, it was... chaotic. Eh.
There were many, many things I really liked about The Chaos. I loved how real Scotch's voice was and her interactions with her brother and family rang very true for me. It may be a cliche for the teen girl to change into more conservative, parent-approved clothes before heading home, but it helps establish Scotch's character and family dynamics. The Chaos is certainly an original end-of-the-world scenario in a sea of other YA apocalypses. The distorting, manipulating, oozing rolling calf was a g ...more

I received this ARC for review from the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.

This is a very bizarre book!

Sixteen year-old Sojourner (nicknamed Scotch after the Scotch Bonnet Jamaican pepper for her red-hot dance moves) is the biracial daughter of a white Jamaican father and African-American mother. People often do not believe that she is “black”, and she feels that her skin is not dark enough and wishes that her contrived Jamaica
Aug 23, 2013 Sarah added it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
Things I liked about this book:
The realistically diverse cast of characters. Nobody was a token anything. There were multiple characters of color, multiple queer characters, multiple characters with disabilities. Felt like Toronto.
The very, very creative ways in which the city fell apart when the Chaos hit.
Sojourner/Scotch,a strong and capable protagonist.

A few characters felt superfluous, like they were only introduced to make a point. The Thompson Twins, who appeared at the beginning and
I read this book in an afternoon.

I know people say that this book is too chaotic, but I don't think that it suffers for that. Who else but Nalo Hopkinson would have a rolling calf and Baba Yaga in the same book? And- no spoilers, but let's just say she finds a very neat way to poke a hole in the idea that lighter skin is better.

The only complaint I have at all is that it wasn't long enough, which is why the characterizations of people other than the main character felt a little bit flat and on
I love that this YA novel has a mxd race protagonist, I love that most of her friends are queers of color, I love that the book confronts racism and ableism as a matter of course. The sci fi/fantasy elements are intense; being in this book kinda makes it feel like the world outside is disintegrating - it was pretty emotional for me (also I read the entire thing in one day, practically one sitting). I was surprised at the cheesy ending - it felt like things wrapped up a little too easily. But mos ...more
Shelby marquardt
The Chaos starts out with Scotch in class worrying about her normal teenage problems, then as the book goes on her problems get crazier and crazier, but one problem of hers' stays the same; her problem with racism. Scotch herself is a mix between a white Caribbean father and a black Canadian mother, so her skin is dark, but it was the lighter end of dark. Something someone said to Scotch about her skin was "You don't look like you're half black. I mean you can be anything at all, you know?...You ...more
Amandine Faucheux
Nalo Hopkinson's first foray into Young Adult fiction is a highly original, witty, surreal and absurd narrative of self-acceptance and tolerance. Sojourner "Scotch"(a hot Jamaican pepper, named after her dance moves) is a light-skinned teenager with a white Jamaican father and a black American mother living in Toronto. After having suffered bullying for being a branded as a "slut" at her previous school, Scotch struggles to be accepted and dreams of leaving the parental house to live independent ...more
Sometimes when adult writers pen a YA title it works, and other times, well . . . It takes more than just placing your character in the teen age range. There has to be a genuine feel for the teen audience, and sadly, with cookie cutter observations like boys who sleep around are studs, and girls are sluts, Ms. Hopkinson just doesn't get it. One of the few books I DNF - which is a bummer, given the dearth of decent characters of color in YA fantasy, I was really hoping to love this one.
I wanted to like this book but I couldn't. I want to believe it's because of the shortness, that we couldn't learn more about the characters or the worldbuilding behind the Chaos but I feel like that wouldn't have made the book any better.

Scotch isn't a likable protagonist. She doesn't seem to grow as a person at the end. The reasons behind her actions are either illogical or just bad writing. Which could be said for actually all the characters. There's no real reason to why the Chaos happened,
Suzanne Rooyen
This book was seriously trippy. I think that all the weirdness was in some way meant to be an allegory for what Scotch was going through in reality, but I would've liked a little more understanding of the Chaos. Everyone seemed to adjust to the strangeness very quickly and too easily. Also, the blurb promised a connection to Caribbean folklore/mythology and I was really looking forward to an explanation of the Chaos being tied to Jamaican mythology, but either I completely missed it or it didn't ...more
Andrea Blythe
Scotch thinks her biggest problems are her over protective parents, facing her ex boyfriend, and pulling together her dance moves before the big competition. But then the Chaos, a worldwide cataclysmic event in which the rules of physics become patchy — a volcano appears in the middle of Toronto, Sasquatches and other strange creatures start appearing on the streets, and people are changing. Her brother goes missing, people are dying, and a black blemish is quickly spreading across Scotch's body ...more
There were a lot of things about this book that I really enjoyed. I liked how the author addressed issues of racism, able-ism, and homophobia in that she didn't make the protagonist perfect at navigating these problems. Scotch has a very strong voice, and - as other reviewers mentioned - in the beginning, her responses and internal monologue ring true. As a mixed race person myself, it was great to read from Scotch's POV.

The mythological components of the chaos were very compelling, and many ele
Farzana Doctor
What happens when a volcano emerges out of Lake Ontario, billowing gray smoke and changing everything on the planet? Nalo Hopkinson vividly imagines a teen world full of adolescent angst and strange new realities. What's particularly lovely about this YA novel is how well it describes Toronto (well, Toronto on LSD, perhaps), and its diverse citizenry.
There's one scene that made this book a four star instead of a three star for me. Sojourner, or Scotch as her friends call her, goes to a bar where a guy tries to pick her up. Scotch is half-black and the guy totally steps in it, telling her looks like she could be anything else. You know, like it'd be cooler to adopt the heritage of someone else rather than be part black. Oops!

A few minutes later, though, Scotch meets a disabled lesbian and steps in it with her with her own bad assumptions. It
I didn't finish this book. I really wanted to like it. At first, I totally did. The characters felt like they were from a queer world I lived in and a world I didn't see much in YA fantasy lit. POC, QPOC and queer people with disabilities, poetry slams, YES. GR8. I also very much appreciated how body-positive and sex-positive the protagonist was. Really, I liked this book a lot at first. But once the sci-fi fantasy parts started happening... it just got very weird. I could see how some people mi ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
Well that was definitely one of the weirdest books I've read. And sadly the main character is not queer (several secondary characters are). A little underwhelming, especially since I loved Salt Roads. I'll still be picking up more of her adult books, but this wasn't a favourite.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really don't understand the unusually low rating this book has here. Especially puzzling are the reviews that essentially say a book called "The Chaos" was too chaotic. I feel like the author was pretty upfront with that element.

While the characters endure chaos, the characterization and plot structure are anything but. I enjoyed the company of the young woman at the center of the story: not perfect, not even heroic, but compassionate and willing to learn. The plot is tight and the story is hi
Sojourner's life is everything a teenager might expect. She is at odds with her friends, her parents, and her brother. She's dumped her boyfriend, and now she is seeing things. Is her world falling apart? Yes. This becomes especially true when a volcano erupts just off shore from Toronto, and the world is thrown into chaos.

I picked this book up on the recommendation of Liberty who works at A Different Booklist. She always has some interesting books for me to read.

I finished the book despite the
A.C.E. Bauer
In a book where fairy tale and fantasy creatures come chaotically to life, the main character felt entirely real. She had all of the bluster, the insecurities, the wishful/magical thinking that comes with being a teenager. For all her faults she was likeable and believably brave, even while afraid of what was happening all around her. And though the chaos that overwhelmed the world remained unexplained, it provided a twisted mirror of what people in our regular world do and think, giving an adde ...more
sixteen year old sojourner smith, nicknamed scotch by her friends (after the jamaican pepper), doesn’t know where she fits in in the world. the daughter of a white jamaican man and a black canadian woman, scotch isn’t sure that she belongs anywhere: later in the novel, she reflects (after a man tells her she could be “anything”) that she is a “daughter of the world.” how lonely, she thinks. in the first few pages of the book, we meet scotch’s friend ben, who is gay and seems to have found himsel ...more
The book starts off pretty slow, but, when it picks up, boy does it!
Weirdest. Book. Ever. And I have read a lot of books.

Okay, so this book was REALLY fantastic... for a good part of it. Hopkinson writes one of the most vivid interpretation of Toronto I've ever read and the city felt alive in this story (that also might be because of the 'chaos' but ya know, ALIVE). Funny enough, the science fiction part of this story (which is why I bought the book, the premise intrigued me), ended up not entirely working for me. However, when the science fiction elements were less or non-existent in the story, this book was f
Morgan Dhu
The Chaos, Nalo Hopkinson's first YA novel, is at its heart a book about identity and self-discovery - but it is also a full-tilt boogie through chaotic transformations worthy of a serious dose of magic mushrooms, and the myths and folklore of more places and peoples than I could count, with special attention given to classic tricksters and ambiguous entities from Anansi to Br'er Rabbit to Baba Yaga.

Scotch, the protagonist, is 16 and feels she doesn't really fit in anywhere. Her father is a whit
Very original mythological figures. I read a lot of fantasy, urban fantasy, and a decent amount of non-fiction about folklore and mythology. I've never heard of a rolling calf or creatures like the Horseless Head Men. That and the diversity of the characters are all this book has going for it. Openly gay characters are pretty common now, less so with characters experimenting with sexuality, and even less common are characters with disabilities. This book has them all, and they feel like actual c ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 59 60 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Diverse Energies
  • Zahrah the Windseeker
  • Racing the Dark (Spirit Binders, #1)
  • Hey, Dollface
  • Cat Girl's Day Off
  • Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction
  • Awake
  • God Loves Hair
  • Wolf Mark
  • The Perfect Boy
  • Darkest Light (Half World, #2)
  • Chulito
  • Ancient, Ancient
  • The Beast of Callaire (The Legend Mirror, #1)
  • Ascension (Tangled Axon)
  • Libyrinth (Libyrinth, #1)
  • Breathing Underwater
  • Hidden Voices: The Orphan Musicians of Venice
Nalo Hopkinson is a Jamaican-born writer and editor who lives in Canada. Her science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories often draw on Caribbean history and language, and its traditions of oral and written storytelling.

More about Nalo Hopkinson...
Brown Girl in the Ring Midnight Robber The Salt Roads Sister Mine The New Moon's Arms

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »