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The Chaos

3.07  ·  Rating Details ·  429 Ratings  ·  102 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
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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TheBookSmugglers
“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
Giselle (Book Nerd Canada)
A finished unsolicited copy was provided by the publisher for review.

Scotch is half Jamacan and half white. And all her life people claim her to be part of every kind of race just because her skin colour is such a light brown. She feels like he never fits in. Her parents are too strict, her best friends Ben and Glory are wrapped up in their own lives and her brother Richard is busy trying to stay out of trouble. One night after her parents go on a trip, Scotch and Richard go to an open-mike bar
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Raina
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
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Stephanie
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
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Colin
May 17, 2012 Colin rated it it was ok
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.
Darlene

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
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Laura Elisabeth
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
Angie
Sep 26, 2016 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Chaos was so freaking bizarre! It was definitely a lot weirder than I thought it was going to be, but that certainly isn't a bad thing! For the last few months, Scotch has been plagued with a weird, sticky rash that just seems to keep spreading. She's managed to hide it for now (although her dance uniform will be a whole other issue), but it's becoming harder to hide the fact that she sees odd little creatures flitting around. Then one night, her exboyfriend sees them too, along with a giant ...more
Sarah
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.

But:
A few characters felt superfluous, like they were only introduced to make a point. The Thompson Twins, who appeared at the beginning and
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xenu01
Aug 17, 2012 xenu01 rated it really liked it
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
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Sabina
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
Ellen
Jul 27, 2012 Ellen rated it did not like it
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.
Farzana Doctor
Jul 08, 2013 Farzana Doctor rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Bill
Jun 21, 2013 Bill rated it liked it
The book starts off pretty slow, but, when it picks up, boy does it!
Tracy
Jul 29, 2013 Tracy rated it it was ok
Weirdest. Book. Ever. And I have read a lot of books.
Hallie
I may add stars later - still trying to decide!

From LJ:

Well, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of writing anything coherent about this one, so have a Goodreads synopsis:

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 troubling, lately her skin is becoming covered in a sticky black substance that can't
...more
Abby
Aug 05, 2014 Abby rated it it was amazing
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
Amanda Blau
Dec 28, 2016 Amanda Blau rated it liked it
Loved the characters and the setting and the mood. The chaotic magic didn't have enough internal structure to tickle my desire for magical world building.
Betsy Dion
Jan 14, 2017 Betsy Dion rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I wanted to like this book more than I did. There are some cool ideas in it, but it went too far into absurdism/chaos for my taste (which to be fair is what the title implied). Also, parental note: contains homosexual relationships, although nothing explicit.
Nic
Jan 27, 2015 Nic rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chrystal
Aug 29, 2012 Chrystal rated it liked it
Okay I thought this book would be amazing since it was located in Toronto (close to where I grew up). It proved to be an interesting location for this novel, but mostly so because of the areas of Toronto that it covered and the heritage of the characters as well. The Chaos starts out with some teen angst about having had to change schools due to bullying at Scotch's previous high school and her fears that she just might be going crazy because of the things that she is seeing and the crazy skin i ...more
Morgan Dhu
Nov 29, 2014 Morgan Dhu rated it really liked it
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
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Nicole
May 30, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it
Basically the book is about a girl called Scotch who is biracial and feels like she doesn’t fit in. She was bullied at school and broke up with her boyfriend recently. She’s in a dance team behind her parents’ back and she keeps seeing shadowy creatures everywhere that no one else can see. Oh, and her skin is beginning to turn black and blotchy in places, and she doesn’t know how to stop it from spreading or make it go away.

Scotch is at a bar watching her brother perform at a slam poetry night w
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Carissa
Dec 19, 2016 Carissa rated it really liked it
This was a really cute coming of age story that doesn't take itself too seriously. There were a few inconsistencies to the story but they didn't really detract from it. I read the kindle version, though, and there were multiple errors, like missing/replaced letters in words and missing punctuation. I wouldn't be surprised if the inconsistencies were from the kindle version replacing letters in a way that still made sense spelling-wise but not in context.

I loved how surreal it got, and I think i
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Melanie
Apr 28, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it
*ARC courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada


Scotch's life hasn't been easy lately : she's having weird black and sticky spots growing on her skin and she's seeing bodiless horse heads wherever she goes. When her parents are out of town for a few days an underage Scotch and her brother go to a local bar for poetry slam. What promised to be an uneventful night turns out to be far worse than anyone would've dreamed of. A mysterious bubble of light appears out of nowhere and when her brother touches
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Melissa
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
Amandine Faucheux
Apr 10, 2015 Amandine Faucheux rated it really liked it
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
Courts
I had a lot of fun with this book. First off, a bit of background: Sojourner 'Scotch' Smith is a regular 17 year old biracial girl living in Toronto; she doesn't quite fit in anywhere, she's fighting with her best friend, and she's desperate to win an upcoming dance battle so she can afford the deposit to move into an apartment with her brother.

Normal issues. For a normal world. Except things aren't exactly normal. Scotch has a thick sticky blackness growing on her in places. And strange monste
...more
Jericho
Apr 07, 2016 Jericho rated it it was ok
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,
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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.

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