Friday 29 June 2012

YA REVIEW - 'Monsters of Men', Patrick Ness (Walker Books, 2010)

"War," says the Mayor. "At last." Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on destroying the others. Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no chance of escape. As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the fighting? How can there ever be peace when they're so hopelessly outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices await? But then a third voice breaks into the battle, one bent on revenge. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Confession time - I don't think I've have had a swifter, more impulsive purchase on my Kindle than this book. I was about two thirds of the way through The Ask and the Answer and I just knew my head would be a complete mess until I finished Monsters of Men as fast as humanly possible. 

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, #3)Blimey, these books really get under your skin. I can't think of another series that has had this strange an effect on my brain - every morning I would pass the ducks and the dogs in the park and I swear I could hear the conversations they were having.

But we're not here to talk about the trilogy. OK, I will be talking about the trilogy in a bit. But I'll give a bit of attention to Monsters of Men first seeing as this is, in fact, a review of Monsters of Men.

OK, it goes with out saying there's going to be a few spoilers in this review. *sounds spoiler alarm*

I'm not going to even attempt to write it without them. But not too many spoilers. Pinky promise.

Well, where do I start? At the beginning is a good as place as any, I suppose. We left Todd and Viola as they had victory almost within their grasp. But this is Ness we're talking about here, and heart-wrenching destruction was only just around the corner. Of course it was. I don't know why I bothered building up my hopes. If you thought the battles in The Ask and the Answer were hair-pullingly intense, then you're in for a post-read trip to the hairdressers with this one. The first half of this novel is stuff to the brim with action. STUFFED I TELL YOU. Which leads me onto the little niggle I had with this one...even though the writing was, yet again, spot on perfection, it just felt like we were going over old territory just a little bit...

Todd and Viola get separated...Todd and Viola have doubts about each other....another battle....bit more angst...reunited but not quite...oh, she's off again...more battles...right, OK then.

I just felt, as a reader, I been through these same emotional upheavals in their relationship in the previous book and I wanted them to move on. Which they did, eventually, but I just wanted them to get there a bit sooner.

Now let's talk about the rather large change in this book. The third narrative. I have mixed feelings about our Spackle friend, The Return, so I'm just going to partake in an unabashed bout of fence sitting here. In one way, he is a masterstroke - his voice is so unique and makes a great contrast with the angsty, impulsive Todd and the rational Viola. His point of view is vital to the story, but, BUT, having invested so much emotion (honestly, I was drained by the time I started this book) in Todd and Viola's story, part of me just wanted The Return to hurry up so I could get back to the other two. So, there you go. Fence sitting. 

The two villains from the second book take two very different paths here. Whereas the Mayor gets to build on his moustache-twirling, chief insurgent Mistress Coyle was a bit underused - she was such a fascinating character in The Ask and the Answer and I was a bit disappointed to have her take a bit of a back seat in this one.

I will not say anything about the ending. 

Ok, I will. 


I would never have thought it possible for an ending to be so horrifically horrific and heart-breaking and soul-destroying at the same time as being hopeful, so warm and fuzzy, so bloody brilliant.

You see, he breaks your heart and then he solders it back together again. WITH WORDS. The man is a genius.

Look, just read it, alright? Just read them, I should say. 

The best series of books I've ever read. End of.


  1. Okay, I best start reading it :)

  2. These books, OH MY GOD. I seriously had heart palpitations reading this book. And the ending. Oh the ending. I get tingles just thinking about the brilliance of this book and the series.

    1. I agree with everything you just said :)