Monsters Of Men
- Walker Books Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 04 October 2010
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This trilogy blew me away. This book in particular left me speechless. I love science fiction and I often wish I could write it - but when I read a book like Monsters of Men, I can't express just how happy it makes me that there are people out there like Patrick Ness writing books like this for the genre.How do I review this book without giving too much away? First of all - Todd and Viola. The relationship between these two is everything a romantic relationship should be. The devotion and the give and take of trust - all without any unnecessary intimate scene's.This book contains so much heartbreak and triumph - all wrapped up together. The magnitude of the emotional investment needed is huge, however. There were times I couldn't breath because of the emotion rising inside of me and, I confess, to crying my heart out over one specific part.These books are so. good. I could use adjective after adjective to describe them - but then I would just sound like some inane fan girl jabbering away so I'll not gush too much, also so that I don't reveal too much.My advice for when you pick up these books (and you should):.1. Have them all.2. Set aside a large block of time.3. Read them as soon as possible.
A great end to the trilogy! In this one, we see many wars and how they make "monsters of men" and women. Great pace and writing. The author did an excellent job of showing the motivations and thought processes of the leaders of each of the warring sides. While I may not have agreed with the choices of the leaders, I enjoyed understanding their perspective. I would defnitely recommend this entire trilogy.
Since this review is all about my opinion, it is important to know what I think is a great book. So. In my opinion, a great book has two layers. The first is the story. The story has to be exciting, devastating, funny; it has to be peopled with memorable characters faced with difficult choices, with flawed and sympathetic characters. The story has to rivet you, keep you coming back for more even if you know the main protagonist is a train wreck and nothing good could come if it (except the novel, of course.) Above all, it has to give an accurate, brutally honest portrait of the human condition, whether it is a book set in the historical south or a post-apocalyptic world peopled with zombies.This first layer serves as a portal to the second. For any good story will serve to highlight, to emphasize the world that we live in and its ethical parameters. A writer that has mastered the art of using story as a lightning rod for philosophy is in my books (ha! No pun intended?) “il miglior fabbro”, the master craftsman. I am thinking of Dostoyevsky’s novels, or one could argue Virgina Woolf’s albeit in a very different way.Now, I probably sound all high-falutin’, name dropping like that. But let me be the first to say that I read and enjoy a whole range of books. Being a Young Adult Librarian gives me an excuse to read whatever I can get my hands on, an excuse that I hardly need. Although most of these novels are not at the caliber I mentioned above (very few adult novels are either, I would quickly like to point out), I still find much to enjoy: namely fast-paced plots, endearing teen characters (hopefully with more than a soupçon of ‘tude) and, if I’m lucky a vision of the world to think about.Which brings me to the book I want to review today: Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness. The third and final volume in the Chaos Walking Trilogy, Ness’s story isn’t just a rollercoaster ride: it is a rollercoaster ride that has had the middle bombed out of it and the audience (in the cars) find themselves careening through fire and air at a mad, terrifying speed.And I mean that as a good thing. I think.Because not only does it have a plot that might give you a heart attack, it is also deeply resonant with our time. I think I read once that Ness was riffing on the issue of privacy in a world where we are bombarded by information and where social media has metamorphised personal barriers that used to be like the Berlin wall into tiny, washed out lines in the sand.The first two books are about how to cope in a world where your every thought can be heard by those around you. The final volume questions whether this is necessarily a bad thing. Add to this exploration of gender issues, a terrifying portrayal of political power and its terrorist opponents, and you have a story that I think manages to grab you on the two levels I mentioned above.And yet… there was something about the pace of Monsters of Men that bewilders me. How does a writer keep it up for so long? How do you convey so much in such sparse dialogue? Because Ness uses dialect brilliantly - not only dialect, but the different fonts in the book help to represent each voice.I guess it is not really a critique but more of an awe-inspired gaze of admiration from a would-be writer to a master of his craft. Although the “Viola?” “Todd?” dialogue did get a bit cumbersome after a while, Ness manages to convey so much pure emotion, so much meaning into one word, it is breathtaking. His plot is complex, textured and completely authentic, while telling the age old stories of power, love and hope. Todd and Viola, the main characters, are flawed and make large mistakes, but never ones where the reader feels morally superior, where you can sit back and sneer at the stupidity of the main character. They are always confronted with a difficult choice, one that you would have had a hard time deciding if you were in their shoes. Chaos Walking is as innovative, resonant of our times, and as philosophically far reaching as Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass series.
On so many levels this book, and the entire series is incredible. This, the final novel in the Chaos Walking trilogy brings to a conclusion the battle between the settlers on New World and the indigenous species of that planet. That is the story, on one level. Todd and Viola fight for peace with the Spackle, and for peace within the fractious early settlers. They represent the future. Todd, born on the planet, and Viola survivor of a crash onto the planet of the scout ship sent ahead of the approaching convoy. In working together they must fight the "Mayor" who represents order and control, and Mistress Coyle who represents those who would defeat hte mayor without regard for the cost. And then there are the Spackle, or The Land as they refer to themselves. Who are so at one with their planet they can hear the planet speak to them. This is one level of the story.On another level this is a story about information and the power it can bring. The "noise" that men project on this planet; every thought, dream, desire, wish, memory...is the never stopping flow of information that surrounds us through the Internet. We can try to control it, but at what cost? The Mayor wants to destroy it so he can hear nothing. The Land live within that noise, part of it, contributing to it, and being borne along with it. Where do we fit in? Do we give up our individuality to become one with the noise, like the Land, or do we, as Todd and Ben and 1017 retain our individuality while merging with the unceasing flow of information?The battle fought on this planet is really the debate that we are engaging in right here, right now. How will we deal with all of this "noise"?The ending, without giving away anything, offers a solution. The question then becomes, how do we implement such a solution within our own world?
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