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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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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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 November 2013
As a world-ending war surges around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches.

Ok lets get one thing out of the way first - although I thought the ending was pretty perfect and certainly lived up to the overall feel of the series, I was not as enamoured of this third and final part of the trilogy as I was with the first two novels.

I'll be as honest as I can about why. Mainly I think it was that I felt that I was pretty much reading Book two again, albeit with the addition of another side to the conflict and some further building on the world as a whole. I totally feel like I could have skipped half of this novel and still ended up in exactly the same place with exactly the same emotions. Now don't get me wrong - the writing is superb as always, with the quirky and extremely readable style that Mr Ness has created in order to tell his tale - and there is no dropping of the standard. Still, didnt quite do it for me when I look at it in comparison.

Todd and Viola face some moral dilemma's and as always that was compelling - still I felt that some of their decision making was kind of half hearted - after all they have both had to make tough choices in the past and their reasoning had already been well developed, so a lot of the thinking felt more forced than natural to me - a kind of "woe is me" attitude if you like. For me personally that didnt quite resonate with what had gone before. Still, even with that caveat, I wanted to keep reading and find out what the heck was going to happen and at no point did I grow frustrated during the actual experience - its just now I look back I'm kind of "meh".

So Book One and Book Two get 5 stars, this one gets 4. And even with everything I have said above I would still hold the "Chaos Walking" trilogy as one of the best YA has had to offer so far. Without a doubt still highly recommended as a whole.

Happy Reading Folks!
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VINE VOICEon 8 March 2016
The final chapter in this trilogy was every bit as good as the other two. Your heart bleeds for the hero, you know that villains didn't get left behind on earth when a new planet was settled. You know that greed can be dangerous. But some folk will stay honest and steadfast for ever, even though temptation sometimes gets in the way.

I loved this YA trilogy, even though I am way way past the age that it is aimed at. And if you think you are too, think again, and obtain all three of these novels which make up the trilogy. Exciting enough to make you stay up late reading, and an all round brilliant read.
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on 8 August 2013
I raced through Knife, ran a little slower through Ask and almost gave up a few times with Monsters of Men. Not because it's not very good but ... maaaan, there's only so much mass destruction and genocide a not-so-young-adult can take in a day.

The set up at the end of Ask is just incredible and Monsters takes, as in Ask, a WTF? cliffhanger and rolls it out as only this trilogy can: with a brilliantly written but constant stream of violence and brutality punching you in the face for about two-thirds of the book. Where the opening of Knife is Todd's adorable dog talking about poo, the opening of Monsters is of massacre in the most descriptive of terms. That's how far this triology has come. And how far Todd and Viola have come too.

Todd is now a man. Even though the book spans a fairly short period of time, the Todd bumbling around the swamps in Prentisstown is a stranger compared to this warrior astride the wonderful Angharrad. Viola is an impassioned leader of the disenfranchised and the lost rebels, fighting tooth-and-nail for what she believes to be right.

We are also introduced to another character with his own agenda although, I have to be honest, I skipped quite a lot of his stuff. I felt it slowed the story down a little.

As with the previous two books, BIG themes are at play here but they are handled well and merged with the story perfectly.

While not quite reaching the exciting heights of Knife and, in some respects, Ask, Monsters brings the story to a really satisfying conclusion but there are rivers of blood, cold-blooded murders, excruciating torture, mindless genocide and some really quite unpleasant weapons to get through on your way there. As I said, I found this relentless at times and gave myself a few timeouts for a week or so just so I didn't want to kill myself after a particularly lengthy reading session.

BUT when looked at as an overall piece of work, the Chaos Walking trilogy is really quite incredible. Brutal, blood-thirsty and often-times really, really depressing. But beautifully written with strong, believable heroes, baddies and ... animals. It's that that makes it an incredible journey to have been on and I really believe it's worth it.

On this book alone it would've been 3-stars, but for the trilogy overall, it has to be four.
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on 1 February 2012
Monsters Of Men in the final book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. It's virtually impossible to write about Monsters Of Men on its own without spoiling the entire trilogy for those who haven't read it, so instead I'm going to write about the trilogy as a whole. The first book, The Knife Of Never Letting Go was read by a friend of mine who came by it through work and enthused about how great it was, I eventually got round to reading it late last year as part of my holiday reading. The Chaos Walking Trilogy to my understanding, is marketed at teenage boys in the Young Adult section of libraries and book shops. I'm a 29 year old woman with an English degree specialising in the Classics, and I thought this trilogy was utterly fabulous to a degree that I have a writers jealousy at not having written it myself. In the first book 'The Knife Of Never Letting Go' we are introduced to Todd, the last boy left in his town, Prentisstown, all the other boys having past the age of 13, the age at which a boy becomes a man in his community, and finally his birthday is approaching.

Through the writing we learn that Todd and his community are settlers from our own planet earth, who have come to a new planet and colonised it. We learn that when they arrived, three things happened:

a) Some kind of virus wiped out the female population leaving only the men left alive

b) The effect of the virus on the men and the animals meant that all their thoughts could be heard, the sound of all their thoughts creates The Noise, a permanent collective buzz in their community.This affords no man privacy or secrets. Comically, The Sheep, mostly say 'Sheeep' and Todd's dog Manchee doesn't say much more than 'Todd' and 'I need a poo' but you understand the oppressive nature of having no private thought for all concerned.

c) Following their arrival the humans had a war with the indigenous population The Spackle which they successfully won.

And then, just as he approaches manhood, Todd comes across a surprise in the marshes...it's a girl...a human girl.

And so, the trilogy begins. Although I can't say much about this book, Monsters Of Men, what I can say about the overall trilogy is that its fantastic and compelling, making you desperate to read the next book once you've read the first, an example of how dystopian fiction can be done for young people, I've never read anything like it in that age group. I found Monsters Of Men slightly disappointing for certain reasons and so can only give that book 7/10 but the entire trilogy is a 10/10 MUST READ.

If you have teenage children, get it for them and sneakily steal it, and if you don't just get it anyway!!!
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on 2 January 2014
This series has had me totally gripped all the way through reading all three books. It is exciting and filled with suspense. It is infuriating too because every time you think things are starting to go right something else happens. I was worried that it would be ruined by a rubbish ending or an ending I didn't like but I think it was near enough perfect! I am inclined to agree slightly with some of the more critical reviews of this last book, in that it is perhaps not quite as good as the first two. However, it still had me totally gripped throughout and I couldn't wait to find out how it would end, although I am gutted now that I have come to the end!

I cannot recommend this trilogy highly enough. I am so glad that a work colleague of mine suggested I read it and leant me the first books. I truly believe it is the best books I have read in a long time, if not ever!
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VINE VOICEon 5 June 2010
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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on 3 February 2011
War makes monsters of men is one of the messages at the heart of this final part of the Chaos Walking trilogy. There are a number of more subtle messages too about how war is, always, a personal tragedy but can also be something experienced at third hand, perhaps by the collective unconscious of the participants.

This exciting trilogy, written for young adults, has been a pleasure to read. The Spackle, the much abused and enslaved, indigenous peoples of the planet, finally come into their own. The issue of the Noise, that emanates from every man whether he wants it to or not, composed of his thoughts, the images he conjures, making men unable to have private thoughts, has become less of an issue. Todd has become able to suppress it, as have a number of other men, but it has made Viola more wary of a man she can no longer read at a glance. The bigger issue is whether the Spackle and men can overcome their war-fever, and more importantly than ever, can Todd and Viola play a part in persuading them that peace between the nations must prevail?

I've deducted one star because sometimes the narrative repeats ideas or elongates bits of action. A chase with horses driven until one of them dies of exhaustion was subjected to endless repetition.

As the book ends, Todd barely knows how to command the gifts Prentiss has cultivated in him and which he must, at last, use against him. All the questions must finally be answered. But are they answered? I wasn't sure.
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on 4 June 2016
A series recommended by the students I teach and covered in a lesson I observed about story openings. After hearing the opening I had to read the first book and two weeks later I'd read the whole series. Bleak at times, epic in scale and emotional. The book really affected my ks3 classes but also shook me a little at times as the twists you think are easy to telegraph, blindside you and shock each time. A series that doesn't dumb down for young readers (an older ones like me who won't grow up).

Well worth reading.
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