5 May 2011

20. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

The third book in the magnificent Chaos Walking trilogy thankfully lives up to the precedent set by its forebears. It manages to bring the series to a satisfying, and yet not at all twee, finale which answers questions and brings everything together without being a cheesy wish-fulfilment anticlimax (hello, Breaking Dawn). It made me cry, it made me smile, I was on the edge of my seat and I was moved and challenged. Plot spoilers abound below the cut and this really isn't a series to read out of order so please begin reading this trilogy as soon as humanly possible and then report back.

Monsters of Men opens at the beginning of the war. We learnt at the end of The Ask and the Answer that the Spackle - or the Land as we come to learn they call themselves - have launched an attack on the humans who are divided into the people with the Mayor and the people with Mistress Coyle on the hillside. Todd and Viola have separate battles to face as Todd tries to control the Mayor and master his Noise and Viola tries to find a path between peace and safety whilst the band on her arm becomes more and more infected.

We get to hear from the Land for the first time in Monsters of Men - the first time their voice is introduced I was sceptical and whilst I didn't feel for them quite as strongly as I felt I was supposed to, it definitely added a lot to the story and the renegade Land who escaped from Prentisstown is a compelling character.

A wonderful thing about this novel was that I had no idea how it was going to end. Ness has shown in the first two installments that he is not one for predictability and the ending was surprising, shocking and moving. In fact, the whole novel is littered with these feelings as characters are forced to make impossible decisions. The characters are so well drawn - they are convincing and intriuging. The Mayor is one of the best villains I've read in a long time - he is cruel, manipulative and scary and we share Viola's frustrations with Todd's attempts to redeem him. Ness takes an interesting look at redemption, sacrifice and how we deal with past mistakes which make for some thought-provoking moments.

There are some moments of violence, but as I said in my review of The Ask and the Answer, Ness is always focused on the emotional effects of these rather than describing the gory details. Having said that, there are a few gory details but I didn't find it distracting and it would seem false in the story that Ness has created for no-one to ever be injured.

This is a worthy conclusion to a outstanding trilogy. Patrick Ness is visiting my school next week and I cannot wait to meet him and find out more about these wonderful books from the author himself.

1 comment:

  1. I think each book in the series was better than the last. If it weren't for the recommendation of Ness from the Librarian I probably wouldn't have even picked up the first one, but I am so glad I did. I passed it on to a keen reader that says she is a sucker for romance, with a warning that it wasn't that at all. I can't wait to see what she thinks of it. Isn't it amazing that a book that makes you feel so terrible can be so wonderful.