Friday, 21 December 2012
Review: Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking #3)
Title & Author: Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking #3
Pages: 603 (Walker Books, 2010)
Challenge: Series Catch-Up
Status: Owned book
Note: As with The Ask and the Answer, please don't read this review if you haven't read the previous books in the series (The Knife of Never Letting Go is #1). While I don't spoil Monsters of Men I do discuss plot details from the earlier books.
Synopsis: 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. (from Goodreads)
First Line: "'War,' says Mayor Prentiss, his eyes glinting. 'At last.'"
Review: As the end of The Ask and the Answer and the first words of this book suggest, Monsters of Men is all about war. There is a lot of fighting. I didn't find this off putting (I am a huge fan of battle and action scenes, they are often my favourite thing in books and movies) but I know some other readers do - so, just to be warned, lots of fighting and battle and blood and death. It never feels gratuitous, but it is constant for the first 1/3 or so of the book and this can be grinding. It's completely realistic, but there isn't much breathing space.
Not that this book is all about the action. It is, ultimately, a book about peace. Peace is what most people are striving for, and what characters like Mayor bloody Prentiss (I really think I'm just going to take to calling him that) are constantly trying to prevent. There is the added issue of thousands of settlers being on their way, potentially to land in either a war zone or to be wiped out by the Spackle, which makes a drive for a decent peace treaty - not like the one reached after the first war, which lead to a Spackle slave population - even more important.
This is all making it sound like a very simplistic plot. And, to an extent, it is. It is a relentless plot, just as the first two books are, and there are just as many twists and turns with as many surprises as you'd expect. A lot of the focus is on the Spackle - there is now a third voice added to Todd and Viola's and it is absolutely awesome and adds a new layer to the debate about peace and war, justice and revenge. The genius of this book, as with The Ask and the Answer, is that there are no simple solutions and pretty much every side is justified in their actions in some way (except Mayor bloody Prentiss). Like the best science fiction it makes you think about the real world, about issues we have to deal with, and does so with an amazing story that left me crying and shuddering and wanting to recommend it to as many people as possible.
Does it work as the last book in a trilogy? Hell, yes. It is a fantastic finale, which brings together all the themes and works perfectly. I did not feel remotely let down by any part of it. I really don't think I can recommend this trilogy to people enough - it is painful and intense and there are times when you care so much that it hurts, but it is so worth the read. I just wish I'd read all three last year when I first read The Knife of Never Letting Go.