Monsters of Men
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking, #3
Page Count: 656
Publisher: Walker Books
Original Publication Date: 2010
Genre(s): Young adult, Dystopia, Science fiction
“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.”
War has come. And not just between the Mayor and the Mistress, but between humans and the Spackle. And in the middle of it all remains Todd and Viola, who both want peace—between everyone—but have no idea how to achieve it. As all hell breaks loose, and Todd and Viola aren’t even sure if they can trust one another anymore, one thing becomes abundantly clear to all: war does make monsters of men. And women.
Listen. I stayed up late on a work night to finish the last 250 pages of this book and I sobbed, okay? I almost woke up my girlfriend and to make her hold me. Finishing a series is always emotional, but this one was pretty shocking and hit me right in the feels.
Monsters of Men resumes immediately after the cliffhanger of The Ask and the Answer: Todd and the Mayor watch as the Spackle army converges upon New Prentisstown, and as Viola races against Mistress Coyle to the ship that has just landed on New World. The story alternates rapidly between the first-person perspectives of Todd and Viola, and later we get another POV: The Return. A Spackle. One whom you may remember from The Ask and the Answer.
Alternating perspectives can go either way for me. Sometimes they’re necessary, other times I just don’t think they enhance the story in any way. This is the first book I’ve read with rapid alternating perspectives—like, a paragraph of Todd before switching to Viola for a paragraph only to switch back again. Pretty fast-paced in some parts of the book, but it works. I liked it. What I didn’t enjoy was the Spackle perspective. It was mostly boring, and confusing at first because of the different terms for things that the Spackle use. For example, the Spackle refer to themselves as The Land. Humans are The Clearing. Todd is called The Knife. And so forth. I mean, I guess it kind of adds perspective to the story getting to read from this indigenous species, but I didn’t care for it.
Other than that, I don’t have much to complain about. Monster of Men has a different feel than the two previous books. Books 1 and 2 are all about running and being captured and escaping and running and on and on, whereas Book 3 is not like that at all. It’s fast-paced at times, but in others it’s slow and more about character development. It’s about war—battles, negotiations, peace—rather than escape. Even though some parts were slow, I was never bored. This was an interesting read from cover to cover.
I wasn’t sure how Ness was going to end this series, and somehow after 10 years I managed not to be spoiled, and boy am I glad: that ending……… Seriously, the book made me cry twice. Not as hard as Book 1 when Manchee died (I’m still not over it), but still, Ness is ruthless man. But I’m not sure how else it could have ended. That final scene at the beach is haunting in so many ways, regarding each character there. It’s definitely an ending that’ll stick with me.
If you, like me, have managed to go so many years without reading this series, I highly recommend it. The late 2000s and early 2010s were truly an amazing time for YA dystopia. Ness killed it with this series. I’m so sad to see it go, but it was well worth the adventure.