Book Reviews

Monsters Of Men – Patrick Ness

 

I would love to include a piece from this book to start off this blog post because it is just so beautifully written. Unfortunately, this book is the final instalment in the Chaos Walking Trilogy and to those who haven’t read it yet, that could give you HUGE spoilers. The same could be said for some of this blog post. Just fair warning ahead of time.

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 So once again, Patrick Ness has lured me into this world of New Prentisstown and his use of language and narrative are just stunning. The addition of the map at the beginning of the novel gives a really good sense of space that you may not have had in the first two books and this is just so incredibly exciting to me. Mostly because the events of this book follow the war that’s been instigated in book 2 The Ask and the Answer. Seeing the space in which this takes place is really important to get a sense of the devastation that Ness explores through the act of war. We get really clear descriptions about people’s movements and their fighting as well as how weaponry works etc. I love this level of detail because it allows me to get a really good sense of the destruction caused my the people within this world.

Once again we are following Todd and Viola. I love both of these character. They are messy and unpredictable and they make for really lovely reading. With Todd there is this language barrier, where he is unable to read, and this lack of education shows in the way he’s narrated. The first person allows for Ness to spell words incorrectly like “exploshun” because that is how Todd sounds it out in his head. There is a part of this book however where this changes slightly, and he’s finally able to read his mother’s diary for the first time. This is such a turning point for him because he slowly learns how to read and we as a reader see that in the physical writing on the page. 

Viola is just a stunning character to read. I find her to be a strong female character, even in this book wherein she becomes rather ill for a large part. I think that whilst she has a secondary love interest this is not her priority. She is very world centred and knows what she must do to save the world she currently inhabits, or at least save it for Todd. There is a lot of growing up for Viola to do in this book and we see some of her adult influences as well as her relationship with Todd develop throughout the novel and I think that it’s great to see someone who’s not concerned about looks or primarily in her love interest, but in doing what’s right. People could easily disagree and say she just cares about Todd but I think that it’s much bigger than that. 

In addition to these two there is a third voice that joins the narrative of this story. This is from the other side of the battle, allowing us to see what they are planning without the other one knowing and I found this to be a little distracting. The language is convoluted and there are no singular people just groups of people all referenced in particular ways and this confused me slightly to begin with. However towards the end of the novel, the short interjections just increased the tension and really made the story very enjoyable. 

And of course, we still have the terrifying Mayor Prentiss. I’m constantly in awe of how Ness can make me feel so bloody sorry for a villain. He’ll make him seem redeemable, a phrase we keep coming back to throughout the novel, and he seems almost like a good guy and someone who you could root for. As an aspiring author I feel myself drawn to these characters and then suddenly he’ll snap and I’ll come back to the sense of “actually wait he’s the bad guy”. And boy is he a bad guy in this novel. Holy smokes there hasn’t been a book I’ve sworn at so loudly in a long time. Several moments in this had be angrier than I’ve ever been at a character in a book if only for his actions involving Todd. He’s such a good villain because Ness makes you start to care about him, forgetting all of his misdeeds and wanting to redeem him (there’s that word again). You want to feel sorry for him at times but you just can’t because you’re aware of his shortfalls. It’s such a wonderful character formulae. 

This book is really about the choices made in war, for better or worse, for the people or for an individual, and about how those choices are realised. It’s about power struggles and surviving a war zone as well as having the longing for a companion throughout. Many of the characters are seeking just someone to care for and really that is all that they really require. This book made me laugh but mostly it made me cry. It is not for the faint of heart. When I say cry, I mean full on ugly sobbing into my pillows at 11pm on a work night, texting my boyfriend in full capitals

 I’M A BLUBBERY UGLY CRYING MESS AND I CAN’T HANDLE IT. I KNEW SOMETHING BAD WAS GOING TO HAPPEN! 

(word for word text I sent by the way).

 It is however stunning and poetic and shows just how dangerous an excess of knowledge can be. 

Total pages – 603

Total read time –  untimed

Rating /10 – 9/9.5

Recommend – DEFINITELY YES! GO BUY THIS SERIES OH MY GOD!

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