Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd.
Publishing Date: 2010
Number of Pages: 603
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian
“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 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.
So okay, I fell deeply in love with the first two books of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy. Because of this, I was eager to know how the trilogy is going to conclude. I can barely contain the tenterhook. I want to immerse into the third book and find out how everything is going to wind out. And so I did! After finishing The Ask and the Answer, I picked up the third book, Monsters of Men. I was that hooked with Todd and Viola’s adventures and how they develop as individuals.
The 2011 Cilip Carnegie Medal winning masterpiece picks up from where its predecessor has left off. The war that was brewing over the horizon is slowly turning into a reality as a new player, stronger and well-armed, enters the battleground. With Spackle Number 1017 at helm, a Spackle army has begun marching towards New Prentisstown. But even before the war becomes full blown, a peace truce was signed between the three warring parties.
Unfortunately, in the end, personal interests rose above what is favorable for everyone. Just when everyone thought that peace was attainable, a different kind of explosion shakes New Prentisstown, pushing everyone aback. At the center of the tumult, Todd and Viola must again appeal to their inner selves to fight the adversity and maintain peace and harmony amongst the denizens of New Prentisstown. An unexpected plot twist in the end brings to conclusion the Walking Chaos Trilogy. The ending is nothing short of shocking.
“Choices may be unbelievably hard but they’re never impossible. To say you have no choice is to release yourself from responsibility and that’s not how a person with integrity acts.” ~ Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men
In Monsters of Men, an entirely different aspect of the story was pulled off by Ness. It did not in any way alter the Trilogy’s dynamics. Rather, it improved on the themes he has built on in The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer. Moreover, things begun taking shape. Of the three books, Monsters of Men has more plot twists, which is kind of unusual because in prior trilogies I have read, the significant plot twists end in the second book. On the contrary, I was in for a surprise.
I know I have mentioned this during my review of the second book but I am going to reiterate on it again here. Ness is doing a particularly great job of consistently building around the subjects he has established during the prequels. He is doing this while slowly steering the story towards a different direction. I think that this change in direction was swiftly and smoothly done because it barely gave me that “Oh, that is entirely different” feeling; I was barely perplexed as I continue digging deeper into the narrative.
A new and important character was introduced as well in Monsters of Men. Well, Spackle Number 1017 was already introduced in The Ask and the Answer (and you get the feeling that he was going to be an important character as the story moves along). It was only during Monsters of Men that you get to learn his significance. However, I wasn’t really too keen on 1017’s story although I understand that his perspective and wisdom is important in making the story move forward. It easier to relate to Todd and Viola’s story because for so long, that was the focus of the trilogy.
“War makes monsters of men, you once said to me Todd. Well, so does too much knowledge. Too much knowledge of your fellow man, too much knowledge of his weakness, his pathetic greed and vanity, and how laughably easy it is to control him.” ~ Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men
The first half of the story is a drag and largely predictable. It was too wordy and the pace dramatically slows down; I guess that is the trend of the trilogy. There was too much push and pull in the first half, most of which could have been removed to tighten the narrative. The story gets more interesting in the second half as the action picks up, although there were still a lot of push and pull in the narrative. Nevertheless, in all of these, Ness’ writing prowess shines through. He has that ability of drawing the reader in. Moreover, his writing style is atypical, deviating from numerous grammar rules.
The thing that distinguishes the third book from its two predecessors is the drastic change in tone and language. Whereas the two preceding books focus more on action, the third book deals more on the philosophical which culminates in a very satisfying conclusion. It compliments the first two books with its thought-provoking exploration on the complexities and viciousness of colonial mentality, war, terrorism and the thirst for power. It also puts a microscope on human nature. The moral fabric is particularly highlighted as, after the dusts of the battleground has settled, one realizes that there is no side with best intentions. One cannot fully agree with another’s idea.
Although there are things that I would choose to change, Monsters of Men is a very appropriate conclusion to the Chaos Walking Trilogy. Albeit a very unexpected plot twist in the end, it gave justice to the entire narrative. It tackles very dark and complex subject matters but in a manner that everyone can grasp. Ness’ writing prowess is simply remarkable. His depiction of war and its evils is very creative yet realistic, and so is his exploration of human nature and behavior. Overall, Monsters of Men is a good book. It is difficult comparing the three books because they all have there merits but the ending of the trilogy is a mind-boggling yet satisfying conclusion.
“What a sad thing men are. Can’t do nothing good without being so weak we have to mess it up. Can’t build something up without tearing it down.” ~ Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men
Concluding Remarks, Chaos Walking Trilogy
I have been very vocal about my dislike for the young adult fiction genre but I am cognizant that there are great materials out there. And the Walking Chaos Trilogy is just a proof of that. As I sail from one book to the other, never did the books make me feel regret or disappointment because it was all on point. Todd and Viola are great and believable characters. The great thing is that they Ness treated them as mature adults; one can related to their growth as the narrative goes deeper.
Beyond Todd and Viola, the subjects of the book are complex but Ness did an astounding job. Although it all happened in a fictional setting, all the elements were realistically dealt with. All of these elements all came together because of Ness’ distinctive writing. He weaved a tale that is not just for children and young adults but for all readers regardless of age. Chaos Walking Trilogy is a wonderful reinterpretation of a subject that remains relevant in today’s world.
Overall, Chaos Walking Trilogy is a great series and, for me, it is at par with the likes of Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy.
Book (Monsters of Men):
Trilogy/Series (Chaos Walking):
Recommended for readers who have enjoyed Collins’ Hunger Games, readers who like young adult fiction, readers who like narratives told in shifting first person perspectives and readers who like dystopian series.
Not recommended for readers who prefer stand-alone stories, and readers who dislike shifting first person perspectives.
About the Author
To learn more about Patrick Ness, click here.
You might want to read my review of the first and second books in the trilogy. Click on the below links to read my thoughts.
Chaos Walking Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Chaos Walking Book 2: The Ask and the Answer