5 May 2011
20. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
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.