Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Published: 3 May 2010 (Walker)
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Source: Borrowed from library
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
In the riveting conclusion to the acclaimed dystopian series, a boy and girl caught in the chaos of war face devastating choices that will decide the fate of a world.
As a world-ending war surges around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches. And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many. The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist? To save the life of the one you love most, or thousands of strangers? To believe in redemption, or assume it is lost? Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage toward a shocking finale.
As soon as I finished The Ask and the Answer I put a hold on this book at the library. I just couldn't wait to get my hands on the final installment in the Chaos Walking trilogy!
The book picks up literally straight after the events of The Ask and the Answer which I loved. There was no pause or quiet moment to prepare yourself, you were just thrown straight into the action. The first sixty pages or so were just absolute madness. The war between the Spackle and both sides of the humans was in full force and with so much going on I just couldn't tear my eyes away from the action.
Monsters of Men is once again told from Todd and Viola's perspectives, only this time we get added chapters from the Spackle perspective. When I first reached one of these chapters I did a little dance because I was so glad to get more of an insight into the Spackle! Having bits written from their POV really delved into how the Spackle see people like Todd and the Mayor, as well as how they see themselves. Because of the way they communicate, there was something quite poetic about how the chapters were written, with the visual language they use having to be translated into text. Overall I liked it, but it was a little confusing getting my head around some of the terms, such as them referring to themselves as "the Land" and referring to certain people as "the Sky" or "the Knife".
Of course, this being the final part of the trilogy, I was fearing for the characters. Throughout the book I was on edge worrying about who was going to survive or what would happen to certain people, because there were so many bleak moments where the future was uncertain. I think it's a great compliment that I became so emotionally invested in these characters that I was so worried about their fates, especially Todd and Viola.
Once again the theme of war that has been running throughout the trilogy was executed brilliantly in Monsters of Men. Yes there were fighting scenes but I was just as enthralled by the communication between the different sides. The plotting and scheming really gave each character a chance to shine and show their true feelings and motives, and when those battle scenes came they were brutal, horrific and often took me completely by surprise and had me on the edge of my seat.
A lot of Monsters of Men is really Todd's story, deservedly so as he's the one who's been there from the beginning. I really liked the challenges he had to face throughout the book. More than ever there's this issue of how the power and control he has is getting to him and just how far he will go to save the people he loves. I think I was slightly worried what direction his character was going to take but I ended up really enjoying the exploration of his strengths and weaknesses and the tests he faces. It was also interesting getting to see the relationship between Todd and Viola really tested by the situations they end up in.
Ness has managed to create some wonderfully complex characters in the form of Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle and I was definitely impressed with how their stories unfolded during Monsters of Men. It was so hard to work out who to trust and figure out just what people were going to do in certain situations. I certainly didn't see a lot of what happened coming.
Most of Monsters of Men was incredibly fast paced with plenty of battle scenes nicely balanced out with the quieter moments where we get to focus on the characters and their tactics. About two thirds of the way in was when I started to struggle, because this is such a long book at six hundred pages. The pace just dropped off a bit for me and there was a time where I was reluctant to pick up the book because not enough was happening to grab me and make me forget about just how many pages I had left. Luckily it picked up towards the end and I was eating it up again.
The climax of Monsters of Men was everything I was hoping for from the end of the trilogy. It was gripping and completely heartbreaking, yet I left the series feeling like it was the perfect ending; enough was concluded that I felt satisfied that the story was wrapped up, yet there was that little bit of a teaser to leave me thinking and guessing about what goes on after those final pages. There was something really poetic about the final chapters and I know this is writing and story that will stay with me.
What to read next: Snowscape by Patrick Ness, a short story following on from Monsters of Men
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