“What a long strange trip it’s been.” For those of us too young to have been a baby boomer, hippy, or flower child, Noble Chaos allows us to take a vicarious ride on the psychedelic bus, without the secondhand smoke from the funny cigarettes.
The ride begins in the final phase of the sexual revolution, in 1969, with Ryan Sterling as our tour guide. This character does exactly what the reader expects: participates as little as possible in his education, flips off authority with the universal one-finger salute (figuratively speaking), and gets stoned out of his gourd.
What makes this novel interesting is that Ryan then does the last thing the reader expects: makes great grades, gives into his companions’ insistence to “go along to get along,” and manages to be a druggie without being an addict.
The obligatory sexual escapades are there, of course, as is the Vietnam War protest. Confused by everything that assails him from every direction (as we all were when we were teenagers), Ryan actively seeks answers to his questions. By not blindly acquiescing to his compatriots and the ideals of the authority figures surrounding him, he risks a fate worse than death for a teenager -- being ostracized.
Noble Chaos is a great read for those who have been there and done that as well as those who have read about it and wished they had done it.