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4.8 out of 5 stars
Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2010
Story-telling doesn't get any better than this. I defy anyone to start "The Knife of Never Letting Go", the first book in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy, and not follow it through to the conclusion of "Monsters of Men", the third.

Ness' universe has been thought through in intricate detail, his imagining of his other world the best I have read since Tolkien forty years ago. The plot is complex, multi-layered and ever-shifting, but it is brought to a terrific conclusion. The storyline seduces and deceives all the time: just when you think it is going one way, another twist is in store. The intriguing use of different fonts for different narrators, and especially for the excellent device of the "noise", works very well indeed. (Looking for an insight into the mind of man's best friend? Manchee is the best talking dog in fiction.)

There are cliff-hangers a-plenty, but the author has a lot of plot up his sleeve. He does not let up, and he doesn't pull his punches. As well as love and courage and integrity in this trilogy, there are death and torture and betrayal. This is particularly true of Book Two ("The Ask and The Answer") where deception, betrayal and duplicity constantly wrong-foot the reader. Throughout, there are some stunningly well-written characters, particularly the unhinged Mayor Prentiss, some of whose deeds could have come from the more sadistic pages of Cormac McCarthy. "... the desire of most folks is to be told what to do," he says, in the all too reasonable tones of an off-world Stalin. "People say they want freedom, but what they really want is freedom from worry. If I take care of their problems, they don't mind being told what to do." (Pretensions towards dictatorship and looking for a psychopathic role model? The Mayor is your man.)

Descriptions of action in fiction can sometimes get bogged down in detail. Not so here. Whether describing the tense waterfall fight with Aaron in Book One or the war that follows, Ness' use of simple, single-line - sometimes single-word - paragraphs generates an excitement that will have you whipping breathlessly through the pages. This style is not an affectation - it is used very effectively indeed. Despite the simple language and the cliff-hangers that make it difficult to put these books aside, Ness is able to engage the reader in profound moral dilemmas. Are my enemy's enemies truly my friends and, if so, what compromises should we accept to form an alliance? To what extent should the many be saved at the expense of the few? Even...might the Mayor be right?

There is no point in just buying the first one of this trilogy. Buy the complete set right at the beginning. You'll want them, and you won't want to wait for the post.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2010
"War," says the Mayor. "At last."

This is how the final part of Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy starts. Towards the end of Monsters of Men, I can only feel awe, hope, and respect. Awe for the talent with which Patrick Ness has managed to conclude this trilogy. Hope, that he will continue to write books of this stature, and respect for the way in which he lets his main characters make decisions.

If in The Knife we mainly got to see things and read things through "the voice" of Todd, Ness had already added a layer to that in The Ask and the Answer when we get both Todd and Viola's perspective. In Monsters of Men, however, Ness now adds a third - and again a completely `different' voice: that of The Return, one of the Spackle who is - like Todd and Viola also are - caught between cultures, one who sees and speaks with the voice of the Clearing and the voice of the Land. All these `voices' are linked in a completely unique way by Ness's writing style (and obviously also by the existence of `the Noise', be it controlled or uncontrolled Noise...), a style which is quite daring for a YA-novel.

Added to the imaginative writing style are themes which are some of the most commonly used themes of YA-fiction, such as coming-of-age, love, power, etc. Ness also uses these themes, but he does it in such a clever way that the trilogy easily surpasses the level of `mere' YA-fiction. If you are just interested in reading a good adventure book, then the trilogy, will provide that thrilling ride for you. If you are interested in reading a coming-of-age story, then Todd's story will appeal to you. If you are interested in romance, then you will like how Todd's tale is intertwined with Viola's. If you like things a little bit more fantastic and sci-fi, then the trilogy will also be to your liking. However, it should be clear that you can't just pin down the trilogy to one particular genre.

Like any good piece of literature it crosses boundaries, building up layer upon layer, even treading on the path of social commentary and philosophy. It confronts you with the way in which our society is set up, forcing you to compare it with the way in which `the Land' is organized, with the way the Mayor wants to rule society; how Todd and Viola see things; and how conflicted they both are about having to make decisions that have an impact on not just themselves but an entire society.

These books can and should be read by anyone who's interested in utterly awe-inspiring and thought-provoking literature. The Chaos Walking trilogy was a joy to read... Thank you, Patrick Ness!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2010
I only finished this a few minutes ago. It's 4am. Not many books keep me up this late; each book in this stunning trilogy has managed it.

The secret is the naturalistic narration. Breathless, sincere. Real. Ness knows these kids, it's almost as if he can hear their thoughts on command and he's just a channel for their voices, for the story.

There's war. There are LOTS of explosions. There's probably more death than the second book had. Definitely, in fact. There are epic confrontations and earth shaking battles aplenty. But that's not what this book - this series - is about. This is about empathy, and it has been from the start. Noise lets you know how other people feel. What damage can that do a person if they know exactly how their cruelty felt? What chance at redemption can that bring? It's a heady theme, and fortunately, it suits the tale Ness wants to tell perfectly.

So, I want to keep this short because I'm tired and still sort of recovering from the pace of the book. Would I recommend it to you? You probably read the first two if you're looking at this. In that case, hell yes. If you're here because you saw that a new book was being released and haven't read the first two, check those out and come back when Todd and Viola have slipped into your head.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 1 July 2013
This is the new edition of last book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. If you want to know if you should get this series of books, then the answer is yes, and get all three at once - there are 87 reviews on the page for the previous edition of Monsters of Men alone that will tell you why! If you are deciding between this edition or the old one, then get this edition because there is no way you will not want to read the extra short story, Snowscape, when you've finished. It's my teenage daughter's favourite series of books ever, and she bought the new editions just for that reason (despite owning the others). She didn't regret it - though still hopes Patrick Ness will write more. But as an adult I think this is one of the most perfect short stories I've ever read - though it only makes sense if you've read all the trilogy, because you need the whole context of New World. It's about redemption, it had me in tears, it's awesome. The short stories with the first two books are also really good, enough to make me go back and start reading the series again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2011
This is the final book of the stunning Chaos Walking Trilogy. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. They are superb. I bought this book some time after reading the first two and went back to re-read them before reading the final installment. I don't normally re-read books, but these books are so electrifying that I was happy to be reacquainted with Todd and Viola and their dramatic experiences.
Although marketed at teens I am a mother in my 40s and the ideas in this books spoke as much to me as I think they would to anyone. The pace is phenomenal; each chapter and each book (apart from the final book) ending in a cliff-hanger. You don't have to be a fan of science fiction even though these books are set in the future, because the setting is familiar enough to understand and the issues poignant.
These books are some of the best I have ever read, I would urge anyone to read them all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Again excitement from the start. A pitched battle rages between the forces of power-crazed Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle's band of militants, they sickened by his excesses. In a total surprise, thousands of Ackle now rapidly advance. This is their planet and they want it back. A spaceship has just arrived, crew shocked by what they find. Caught up in the turmoil are young Todd and Viola. For them, and everybody else, nothing will ever again be the same.

Once more Todd and Viola narrate. There is, though, a third, whose contributions at first greatly puzzle. Only gradually do they become clear, everything to be seen in a completely new light.

As ever, Patrick Ness's handling is masterly - a firm grasp on all the complexities, everchanging alliances, major shocks. Rarely does one find so many cliffhangers, pages occasionally turned with some nervousness at what may be in store - especially with Viola so visibly ailing.

Admittedly certain thoughts intrude. Exactly how big is this planet? Why are spaceships so keen to land in this tiny area? Also source of wonder is that Todd and Viola, only newly teenagers, seem so much older. (Actually that can be explained, extraordinary circumstances having propelled them headlong into maturity.)

Much provokes thought. Not least, realization that war achieves nothing of value, especially when fanatics are involved. It takes level-headed people on all sides to communicate if there is to be peaceful co-existence.

Against the background of non-stop trials and tribulations, this is a love story. Oh, for a happy outcome to await Todd and Viola, each the other's "one in particular"! What hope for them, though, with obstacles so immense!

All the way through I was totally hooked - the trilogy read in less than a week, bedtimes delayed so great the hold.

Join all the others spreading the word. This trilogy is exceptional.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This has been an outstanding trilogy to read. It's one of the handful of stories I can remember where and when I read each book. It's such an epic series it will stay with you a long time. The breath and scope of the storyline is amazing. It deals with wide panaromas of space and travel to minute - literally in your head - personal conflicts and struggles with the genius idea of 'noise' laying all mens' thoughts open to the world which creates a whole lot of paranoia and action between men and women, Spackle aliens and human settlers.
Ness cleverly finds something positive in the noise (if you love Avatar you'll love this!) and turns all the preconceptions about the dangers of noise from the previous books upside down. While at the same time keeping up a level of action, suspense and fear waiting for the other settlers to arrive from space. What will they find? You are left guessing as the power shifts and turns in this breathtaking book. Lots of different fonts for the different voices, action and characters make this an easy book to read (I almost threw the first book away due to frustrations of not being able to make head or tail of it but this book is much better laid out).
I found myself forgetting what a villian President Prentiss was in this book much the way Todd gets sucked into his warped world but beyond the old struggles this book details an epic war between the infighting settlers and the Spackle. How war affects and changes the characters is amazing to read and probably will resonate with teenagers a lot more than some turgid history lessons about suffragettes and World Wars ever will.
A must read trilogy.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2010
It is here... and the end is in sight...I am slowing down and the sense of doom and grief are growing and yet these exhilirating books are a joy to read...a joy to meet Todd and Viola and Manchee and Angharrad and, of course, the Spackle/Land. Full of moral dilemmas, the thin line between good and evil, love and loss, heartbreak and suffering...this the last is perhaps the most human of them all! In classic Science Fiction mode it delivers powerful ideas and insights into the human condition at the same time as creating a believable and complex alien environment.
Read these books, your life will be enriched!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2010
This novel continues directly on from The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking), and is a fitting finale to Patrick Ness' mind-blowing Chaos Walking trilogy. As Todd and Viola strive to bring peace to the land, the nefarious Mayor has other ideas, and with the opressed Spackle finally turning on their persecutors it seems that bloody war is inevitable.
Fast-paced, gripping, uniquely written and intelligent, the novel subtly presents themes that echo aspects running through our own society and packs a powerful emotional and social punch. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2011
Thank you Patrick Ness for this great trilogy of books. My 14 year old son had gone cold on reading and nothing I tried to coax him with was working until I stumbled on these books on Amazon. By reading the other reviews I thought it worth a try and wow he really has enjoyed them and it is lovely to see him reading again. Many thanks Patrick Ness and many thanks to all the other amazon readers for their encouraging reviews, without which I probably would never have bought the books!!!
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