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Sunday, 9 July 2017

Review: Monsters of Men, Patrick Ness

The final book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. It's a long read - one that will necessitate pauses due to vicarious battle fatigue - but a great ending to the series.

The Spackle are coming, in their tens of thousands. The Return (the Spackle who escaped in book 2) has reported the monstrous crime and the Land (the actual name for the Spackle) have come to fight for their very existence.

The new settlers we met in book 2 (Bradley and Simone) are hesitant to get involved. They came to this world for peace, not to fight in new wars. But Viola (much to Mistress Coyle's delight) ends that discussion decisively when she sees Todd in danger. She fires one of the ship's missiles into the Spackle. The Spackle's near certain victory is snatched away from them.

Most of the book is a series of battles, skirmishes, and guerilla warfare. It's interesting to see how Mayor Prentiss' character develops in this one. Todd's mantra is that the Mayor is not redeemable, but we start to think he is. He chooses to do some things that are good - the reason being, according to him, that Todd is making him a better man, but his conduct over the series makes the reader think their is something underhanded going on.

Once the Spackle and the humans realise that they will come either to a stalemate or equal slaughter on both sides, peace talks begin. The Return (whose voice we also read in this volume) is dead against this and wants to ruin it. His conversations with the Sky (the leader of the Land) reveal deep bitterness, hurt, and betrayal built up over many years. He wants nothing more than to kill the Knife (Todd) yet when face to face with another human connected with Todd, he can't do it. Things have become less black and white than he thought.

Just by nature of the plot and the end game of this book, I found it the most intense and tiring of the three, but this is by no means a negative thing. Trilogies sometimes suffer their third book being the weakest and slapped together, but this is certainly not one of those. Beneath the action of the book, there are deep, necessary questions asked like, how do we live together despite our differences? How can differences in politics and ideologies be resolved without going to war? Is anyone ever irredeemable?

It's no wonder this trilogy got so much critical acclaim. From detailed world building and complex characters, to well-developed plot and uncomfortable questions posed, it's a story that will enrich you and open your mind.

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