Genres: Young adult, science fiction, dystopia.
“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 – the electrifying finale to the award-winning “Chaos Walking” trilogy, Monsters of Men is a heart-stopping novel about power, survival, and the devastating realities of war.
I feel like I’ve just come home after completing one huge journey: a journey consisting of 1,598 pages in less than 9 days. I have visited a new planet, met a mysterious alien population, been acquainted with talking animals and their “Noisy” owners, and witnessed a violet and brutal war. It has been emotionally exhausting as well as tremendously exciting. There’s only the short novella, The New World, left to read – a prequel to the series that was published around the same time as Monsters of Men was released. The series has been written, published and loved by thousands of young people, and so we must come full circle to look at Viola’s journey to Todd’s planet, whilst aware about the battle, and the agony, she is about to face.
But for now, I must comment on the final instalment of the Chaos Walking trilogy. Monsters of Men, to put it simply, is one long, drawn-out, war. From start to finish, there are disagreements and battles between groups: the women, the men, and the Spackle. In this book, we get another additional viewpoint. We finally hear the Spackle’s point of view and understand what it’s like to be the enemy. Even so, I still found it difficult to imagine what these peculiar, misunderstood creatures looked like. I still couldn’t imagine their white bodies with lichen growing on them. I couldn’t imagine being able to communicate with no verbal or written language (and no sign-language, either). Nevertheless, the new viewpoint was interesting and insightful. It definitely added more emotion to the story and meant that empathising was easier, which lead to the difficult question: which side should I be on?
I haven’t discussed this before, but Patrick Ness’s writing is extraordinarily unique. The characters’ thoughts (the verbal Noise) are written in different fonts. The grammar is unconventional. The dialogue is disjointed, for example, Todd’s thoughts have many line breaks. His words are often spelled phonetically. But, I never once found it irritating (although, this isn’t true for everyone else). I think you just have to accept that our rules of language do not apply on this planet. You have to be open-minded to a different way of retelling a story, as that it what it feels like when reading the books.
Monsters of Men throws up many surprises although I do think it needn’t have been as lengthy as it was. It is a direct continuation from The Ask and the Answer but I felt that the issues were not as significant (maybe I had just become desensitised?) and I did not find this book to be as memorable as the first two. Even so, I can’t offer any sort of explanation of how I think the storyline should have gone. War is a futile, destructive force, and rationality is not always capable of rising out of chaos. I’m not sure what I’d have done differently. The feeling of helplessness was felt throughout the novel and I like to think that New Prentisstown was able to finally find faith. I do not mean a faith in a religious sense, but faith in each other; more accepting that individuals with contrasting cultures and views are able to cohabit peacefully. I cannot imagine being able to forgive the people who massacred my town, but I cannot imagine a future full of conflict and violence, either.
I love the ending of Monsters of Men. I won’t give anything away but it summed up the trilogy perfectly: uncertainties can be a terrible thing to experience. It can lead to misery, distrust and conflict, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll lead to the best thing that’s ever happened.
I’m glad I finally decided to read this trilogy and if you’re unafraid of difference, of individuality, you’ll love it too.
My Rating: ★★★★