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The Chaos

3.10  ·  Rating details ·  579 ratings  ·  143 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
...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Average rating 3.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  579 ratings  ·  143 reviews


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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
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
...more
Giselle
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
...more
Melanti
Throwing in the towel at 40% in.

Some writers can manage to write a decent YA novel. Others shouldn't even try. Unfortunately, Hopkinson falls into the latter category.

Too much talking about clothes and dating and unimportant (and irrelevant) school drama, and too little talking about real issues.

Once the plot finally starts at around 30% in, I was hoping it would have gotten better, but... no. Scotch stops in the middle of running to look for her missing brother to fix her hair so it would
...more
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
...more
Colin
Dec 03, 2011 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.
Marilyn
Feb 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Boring random silly little dramas all in scratchy suffocating repetitive dialogue.
Tracy
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Weirdest. Book. Ever. And I have read a lot of books.
aubreads
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I think the biggest strength of this novel is the direct commentary on how society treats disabled people.
Mo
3.5 stars
I liked The Chaos. It's trippy and odd in ways that maybe aren't the best choices for a YA novel, and I wouldn't recommend this as introduction to Nalo Hopkinson's writing, but it's also kind of gorgeous and mesmerizing in its weird way. Also, there's a Black dyke who uses a wheelchair, and she's awesome.
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
...more
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 ...more
Rebekah Schofield
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
*Some spoilers below*

Where do I begin with this book honestly... I have never read Nalo Hopkins but I have heard good things about her. When I found this book at my local library, on sale for $0.50 I just couldn't pass it up. I won't say my expectations were high, in fact, they were quite low, but I was still disappointed.

The book is about Scotch. A 16-year-old transfer student going through some difficulties with her school and home life. Suddenly the world is thrown into *dun dun dun* you
...more
Jessica
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5. Kind of a strange mess, but I liked it.
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
...more
Angie
Aug 03, 2015 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 added it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
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
...more
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 ...more
xenu01
Aug 17, 2012 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
...more
Angelina Justice
Jun 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, supernatural, horror
Chaos is the name for what's happening, but surreal is what this story ends up being. It is a crazy mash-up of mythologies that often get overlooked. There is everything from Jamaican lore to slavic folktale in this novel. This mash-up effect lends the novel the pizazz it needs to keep the reader engaged.

It is sometimes reminiscent of Clive Barker's horror fiction and at others it reads more like social diatribe. I admire what the author was attempting to do with the social commentary, but it
...more
Rachel SV
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Chaos was my first book by Nalo Hopkinson, and while there were elements I found interesting (the chaos itself) this was a miss for me. I have gotten to the point where I find well-written YA super enjoyable, but I thought the teenage characters were shallow in unrealistic ways and the themes were inadequately developed. The writing was often cheesy and heavy-handed, and sometimes it felt like every possible “issue” was being shoved into an already unfocused narrative. Just meh. There was an ...more
Jessica
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm so confused about this book, I don't really even know how to appropriately rate it. :( Had high hopes for this one...
Ellen
Jul 27, 2012 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 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.
Jenna
This was a very strange and interesting book. Although there were a lot of wacky things going on, I really enjoyed it and loved the different folklore that was present in the story.
Bill
Jun 21, 2013 rated it liked it
The book starts off pretty slow, but, when it picks up, boy does it!
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
Jun 28, 2014 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 ...more
Alexa
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 8th-grade
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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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