Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking) by Patrick Ness

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Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking) by Patrick Ness

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Wonderful end to a wonderful series. Nuff said. Don't miss it!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 624 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Walker
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1406310271

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Noise - visible thought - dominates the lives of everyone on this settler planet. Noise is used as a tool of oppression and as a weapon. There's a cure, but the Machiavellian President Prentiss reserves it only for the most loyal. The Answer are fighting back against his authoritarian regime, but they've had to make some terrible choices. Between the President's torture and the Answer's terrorist bomb attacks stand Todd and Viola - trying to prevent civil war, trying to hold on long enough for the second wave of settlers to arrive. And then, in the wake of the President's genocide of slaves, the Spackle attack. A scout ship finally arrives, but it may be too late to prevent a catastrophic war...

This last book in Ness's superlative Chaos Walking series is all about hard choices. How is peace best won? By negotiation or battle? Do people deserve second chances? Should you rehabilitate or annihilate? At what point does a principled stand become self-defeating? Love or society? Individual or whole? What price victory? Todd and Viola face them all. And they make mistakes, the biggest most dangerous mistakes of all. And you're so powerfully invested in them, such is the quality of this series, that you read the entire book with your heart in your mouth, and every possible body part crossed.

I did wonder how we'd be able to sustain such intensity throughout a third installment, even with the arrival of the settler scout ship and a new character or two, as we seemed to have gone as far as we could with the use of Noise to create conflict. Ness answers this with an entirely new voice in 1017, the Return, the only Spackle to escape the slave genocide, who has rejoined his people, found a place at the forefront of the war, and who struggles to regain a sense of belonging. Through this brand new and very powerful narrator, we finally come to understand the true nature of Noise, and it's beautiful. It's worth fighting for - something Viola understands instinctively and Todd must learn through yet another heartbreakingly difficult lesson at the hands of President Prentiss.

It's beautifully written, with characters that creep under your skin and right into your soul. It explores huge themes with an underlying and deep compassion that brings tears to your eyes. It's a big, special thing, this series, and you really shouldn't miss it. Your grandchildren won't.

Oh, and Walker have made an absolutely wonderful trailer for it. Go watch!

My thanks to the nice people at Walker for sending the book.

These books are so singular that it's difficult to think of a further reading suggestion that won't be anti-climactic. I shall settle on WE by John Dickinson, a classy sci-fi thriller about free will, individuality, collectivism and the need to reproduce. It's rare to find hard sci-fi for teens, and it really is top notch stuff.

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Buy Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking) by Patrick Ness at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking) by Patrick Ness at

Booklists.jpg Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking) by Patrick Ness is in the Carnegie Medal 2011.


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Nigethan said:

I first read Monsters of Men back in 2010, when it was first published. I remember it as being one of the most exhilarating, breathtaking, reading experiences I've ever had. I hadn't been this invested in the characters in a book since the final Harry Potter book, which had been the culmination of my childhood literary experience. The incredible tension of the story made me read it at a crazy pace, but I refused to skip a single word of Patrick Ness' prose because it would've been a crime not to drink up every sumptuous bit of his masterpiece.

After three years, I've finally got round to re-reading the entire trilogy. I think I waited this long because I was almost scared that a second reading might diminish what had been an almost unparalleled reading experience. Of course, I needn't have worried. I loved every bit of the series just as much as, if not more than, when I first read it. Reading the trilogy, and in particular Monsters of Men, doesn't feel like I'm reading a story, so much as I'm living out every page alongside Todd and Viola. Finishing the series left me feeling almost enlightened: I learnt so much from it, and it was one of those few books that not only stayed in my mind way after I finished reading it, but is inspirational enough to have really shaped my perspective of the world.

Your review tells it perfectly: this series really is something special, something that will bring tears to your eyes, take your breath away, and touch you at your very core.