Monsters of Men – by Patrick Ness
If you haven’t read the first two books in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy, stop right here and go do so. There is very little I can say in this review without including spoilers for The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer. If you have already read them, you probably don’t need me to tell you to read this one, but I will anyway! It is an action-packed, thoughtful, and emotionally driven conclusion to a brilliant trilogy, and a fascinating look at the endlessness of war and the strength it takes to work instead for peace.
New Prentisstown is on the brink of war, with competing armies led by the Mayor/President and Mistress Coyle converging while an enormous army of Spackle approaches, and Todd and Viola are right in the thick of it. The convoy of new settlers is getting closer, and Viola seeks to reach the newly arrived scout ship before Mistress Coyle gets to them while Todd guards the Mayor as he leads his army against the Spackle. How far will the two of them go to protect each other? And how can they hope for peace when the leaders of the armies are so fixated on winning the war?
Todd and Viola are such great, rich characters and their struggles to maintain their own identities in the midst of war is highly compelling. The addition of the crew of the scout ship makes for an interesting change in dynamic, and the third narrator adds a fascinating new perspective. My favorite thing, however, was the introduction of The Source. I can’t explain without giving anything away, but I felt both gleeful and triumphant and it instantly made me desperate to keep reading. The ending left me a little bit broken, but hopeful, which, I think, is one of the best ways a book can end.