Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monsters of Men

Ness, Patrick. Monsters of Men. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2010. Print. Chaos Walking 3.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/9116020]

As I've said before, Ness doesn't do nice little catch-up spots in the openings of his book, and all his books end on HUGE CLIFFHANGERS (even, to some extent, this one). So, while I have tried to avoid them at all costs, this review has some spoilers for the previous two books. Don't read this if you haven't already read The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer. But really, if you haven't started reading this trilogy, you should. The entire thing is heart-wrenchingly wonderful (though pretty freaking violent).

"And what other kind of man would you want leading you into battle?" he [the Mayor] says, reading my Noise. "What kind of man is suitable for war?"
A monster, I think, remembering what Ben told me once. War makes monsters of men.
"Wrong," says the Mayor. "It's war that makes us men in the first place. Until there's war, we are only children."

Monsters of men, I think. And women.

Reading this book is like getting punched in the stomach. In a good way. And if I learned anything from Monsters of Men, it is that there is, in fact, a good way. It's basically when you're keeping someone else from getting decked, or when you're getting pummelled to protect the one you love.

Monsters of Men was the most satisfying end to a series or trilogy that I've read in a long time. A really long time. Like the previous books, the plot runs at a breakneck pace that left me breathless, and it covers a lot of ground. Coming into the book I couldn't have even imagined things that happened in the middle, let alone how it would end. There are a lot of loose ends that are tied up over the course of the book, but ending is not finite. I don't think Ness will be writing another book in this world or with these characters anytime soon (ever), but the ending is open to possibility and to the imagination of the reader. This book is full of passion, action, and general umph.

I know I'm being really vague, but I think the best way to read these books is to go in blind.

And, word to the wise, it can reduce just about anyone to a sobbing mess. There were a few moments in the beginning that had me looking out the train window and blinking a lot during my commute, but the real stuff is saved for the end. I wouldn't advise that anyone read beyond page 400 or so outside of the comfort of their own home. We're talking hug the book, can't see through the tears crying for the last 100 pages. But oh-so-good!

Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Book 2: The Ask and the Answer
Book source: Philly Free Library


anachronist said...

Your review is so cryptic that these bookis must be good. Just tell me what they are about? Love story? Crime story? Growing-up story?

Lawral the Librarian said...

Ha. I hadn't realized I was being thaaat vague. Sorry! But yes, these books are SO GOOD. They are technically sci-fi. The whole thing happens on another planet where the thoughts of men and animals can be heard loud and clear. But they are also a dystopian war story with a bit of coming of age and a lot of action thrown in. They are hard to categorize! If you liked the Hunger Games series, you will probably like these. They have that same INTENSE feel and some of the same themes.

Jo said...

"Reading this book is like getting punched in the stomach. In a good way." I love this.

really loved these books, too. :)

anachronist said...

I loved "Hunger Games" so this is the next position on my TBR list - thanks!

Lawral the Librarian said...

Jo - I'm glad you liked that! I was a bit conflicted over that opening, but it really is an apt description of my reading experience. ;)

anachronist - you won't be disappointed!