Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Monsters of Men

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3)
By Patrick Ness
Candlewick Press 2010
603 pages
From the library

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, #3)

Well, we have reached the end. Three books and more than 1,600 pages later, the story of Todd and Viola comes to a conclusion. Patrick Ness ends his story in a way that will make your heart ache and give you lots to think about. If you want to find out about the beginning before we discuss the end, hop over to my review of the first book The Knife of Never Letting Go. There will be spoilers for the earlier books in this review.

Things have gotten incredibly complicated for Todd, Viola, and the people of New Prentisstown. The town is split into two factions - one ruled by the tyrannical President Prentiss and the other by the guerrilla tactics of Mistress Coyle. A shuttle has landed with two scouts, sent ahead of thousands of settlers who will soon arrive on the planet. And at the worst possible moment, the aliens known as the Spackle descend on New Prentisstown, seeking revenge for the atrocities that humans have done to them over the years. 

As this series progresses, we are given more viewpoints. In The Knife of Never Letting Go, we heard Todd's story. In the sequel, the point of view was split between Todd and Viola. In this final book, we hear from Todd, Viola, and a Spackle who is known as The Return. Each POV is unique. You know that an author has done a good job when you are sad to leave each character, but excited to view events through the eyes of another one. 

"War makes monsters of men," the characters and the readers are told. Todd, Viola, and many other characters must make decisions that will save one and sacrifice many or save many and lose someone irreplaceable. Each one of them think that they must fight for the good of their people until they come to a single moment when the person they love or need most is in danger. Each of them try to do the right thing. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail and sometimes the right thing isn't clear. The fascinating thing is that no one, even the most evil villains, seem beyond redemption and our heroes are always on the edge of doing something horrific when faced with impossible choices.

As I read through this book, I wondered how Patrick Ness was going to neatly tie up an epic story that asked big questions. The answer, of course, is that he doesn't. Things don't get neatly tied up and not every part of the story is resolved. I won't tell you what the ending was but I will say that it was the sort of devastating end you would expect at the end of this series, but it does not leave the characters or the readers without hope.

Chaos Walking is a fantastic series and Monsters of Men is a fitting end to this story of two kids discovering what it means to love, to trust, and how to retain their humanity in the midst of endless violence and fear. 


  1. I rather like it when things aren't tied up too neatly at the end. I only skimmed this review because I didn't want many spoilers for the earlier books, ut they sound fantastic.

    1. Yes, I find it more realistic when some things are left unresolved. I hope you find time to pick up these books - I was really impressed.

  2. Again, one of your reviews makes me want to read the series....How is the dialogue? believable? The characters sound their age?

    1. Well, dialogue is an interesting thing in this series. The "chaos" part of the series title refers to the fact that men's thoughts can be heard. In some portions of the book, characters are simply listening to each other's thoughts as opposed to speaking.
      But the short answer to your question is that I did find the dialogue believable for the age of the characters. However, some people are a bit annoyed by Todd's manner of speaking, since he tends to throw in the occasional Southern inflection, which is spelled incorrectly because Todd doesn't know how to read.
      Sorry, that was a very long answer!