“She turned her head to the sunrise coursing down from the hilltop. A low flood of light illuminated the mist and cast the dozing members of the herd as gray, rocky islands in a sea of white.”
– Patrick Ness, The Crash of Hennington
There are some books that are almost impossible to explain and The Crash of Hennington by Patrick Ness is one of them. It is a work of fiction that is bordering on science fiction… however it really deserves a genre of its own. It is a bizarre book to read; there wasn’t a single point where I felt comfortable. Ness keeps his readers on the edge of their seats in most of his books although The Crash of Hennington is on a completely different level. I felt as though I was in a constant state of hyper-vigilance. What more could he possibly throw at this story!
Long-time Mayor Cora Larsson is looking to retire and her decision sends the town into a spin. Add in a dejected admirer seeking revenge for a broken heart and the crash of rhinos roaming uneasily among the town and you get a very, very unusual story. Don’t forget the drug-induced pimping that is happening behind the scenes at the local golf club…
The Crash of Hennington is a tightly woven story around fourteen characters seeking ‘the good life’. Their search for a meaningful life leads them to a varied range of vices such as sex, drugs, politics, money, pimping, prostitution and religion. Despite the hedonistic feel to the book there is a constant feeling that something sinister is lurking around every corner. Of course, there are some very bad/ mad characters and Ness’ almost-apocalyptic setting allows the evil characters to die terrible deaths and the honourable remain martyrs. Ness explores the ideas of fate and destiny and that sometimes, the world is going to conspire to fulfil a prophecy you may or may not know about… and whether you want it to happen or not. Ness also explores the ideas of power and love, and power without love. Does ‘good’ always remain triumphant?
There is no question that Mr Ness is the master of writing incredible fiction. In a story that becomes more surreal and peculiar as it goes on, there is always an element of recognition of the real world.