Wednesday, June 23, 2010

review: monsters of men

Monsters of Men, Patrick Ness

This review will assume knowledge of books one (The Knife of Never Letting Go) and two (The Ask and the Answer) and may contain spoilers. However, I will not give away anything specific from Monsters of Men.

The town that was once Haven, now New Prentisstown, is on the brink of war. War between Mayor/President Prentiss' army and the guerrilla army led by Mistress Coyle the Answer. Then there are the thousands of Spackle flooding from across the planet to fight for their species.

Todd and Viola narrate the happenings in alternating chapters, but there is also a surprise new voice in the telling. The convoy from Earth is arriving soon - Viola and Todd are fighting to have a peaceful planet/environment from the ship that landed at the end of The Ask and the Answer. Todd and the Mayor, whom he spared at the end of the second book, are constantly in each other's company in Monsters of Men and much is discussed in reference to people's tendencies and abilities to change; can you trust someone who has proven in their past to be unspeakably evil?

Todd must also learn to cope with the atrocities he has seen - and participated in. Memories, visions, dreams haunt him, but in learning to control his Noise it is possible he may find a way to block out his pain. With Viola away with the Answer, and with the convoy the duo have to keep blind faith in one another, but they also must make terrible decisions as individuals in order to ensure the peaceful future of their planet. Not every decision, however, will play out as planned. Things are murky, and sometimes gut instinct is not enough. Sometimes it can result in more devastation.

In Monsters of Men, the action is almost non-stop. It's almost visceral, breathless and you are swept along, each time you think something is over, that you can rest, it starts up again.
This is the incredible final act in the stunning Chaos Walking trilogy. I've had a lot of customers complain that this series is too violent - they talk about that awful death in The Knife of Never Letting Go that traumatised the middle-aged ladies more than it did the children; they speak about the scenes of torture in The Ask and the Answer. But I think it is just magnificent. Patrick Ness has masterful command of language and the books explore and show war in such a brutal and honest way, showing the best and the worst of humanity, the necessity of love and trust, compassion and strength. Just, just, just...so.

3 comments:

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