book review: monsters of men

Monsters of Men is the concluding book in the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. This trilogy was less like three separate books than one story separated into three volumes, which is part of why I preferred this book to the middle book. It actually had an ending.

[Spoilers to follow.]

In this concluding section Todd and Viola have to try and unite humanity against the overwhelming opposition of the aliens they thought they’d killed in the war (before Todd was born). They’re trying to create a peace and Todd is becoming more like the Mayor because he’s learning so much. There’s a lot of Star Wars-esque father issues going on. Viola is hiding her distrust of the new Todd and they’re all growing up and she lets the war get personal while she’s trying to broker a peace. It’s all very dramatic, with one excellent return of a character from early on in the story that I didn’t see coming. And it ends really well.

There’s a new viewpoint character, one of the aliens, which I quite enjoyed. One of the issues with the series is that the first book is told completely from Todd’s perspective, and Viola doesn’t even have a voice for a good chunk of it. In the second book she becomes a viewpoint character. But if a young woman starts the first book, there’s not a lot for her right off the hop. And explaining that Viola is there and everything Todd thinks at first is wrong kind of defeats the purpose of how that book is set up. I don’t know if it’s a huge problem, but the fact that it takes so long to get a kickass female protagonist might turn off some female readers. Just a caution.

One thought on “book review: monsters of men

  1. Being a ‘female reader’ I will comment, having now read these books. Personally, I found the first book the most compelling, and I think that Viola works fine as an interesting character in that book even if you can’t see from her point of view. Actually, one of the things that really annoyed me about the third book is that it kept changing perspectives every single page. The second book and most of the start of the third book really felt like wasted space, it was like getting sucked into something that kept going on and on and it annoyed me enough that even though I understood what the author was trying to get at, it felt like something that maybe shouldn’t take 600 pages to get across. (also, if you’re going to write 1600, why can’t you include all of the damn journal? Seriously. I wanted to know what was in it) While I liked the alien perspective later, it did annoy me at the beginning because it felt like another way to stall what was happening. And while the character return was not unexpected to me (having suspected it since the noise open in book two), i felt it played nicely into the end, which I did like generally although I would have liked no ambiguity to it, since that would have felt more impact, I think. This way it’s hopeful, but also felt like a cheat for all that despair and posturing. I also felt like the leader characters were insane, I guess, which makes sense in the story but I felt like the one justified it at the end (through means that I didn’t like generally in the context of the story), while the other didn’t, which I don’t think is fair. Which played into my other huge issue with the book, which is the way women characters are treated, outside of Viola who is pretty awesome. It felt like men have a justification for their action, even when insane, but that the women really were written to be just as bad without the ‘justification’, enough though they mostly got terribly oppressed. Those who escaped didn’t seem to act rationally, like okay, our lives suck… rather than blow things up, why don’t we leave and go somewhere else and not get involved. Maybe they could go back to one of those towns in the first book and live there for a while.
    The fact that they’re all cliffhangery and the fact that partway through the third book I seriously considered stopping reading means I guess that maybe I actually liked the hunger games better. But only if the story had stopped at the conclusion she reaches on the train tracks partway through book two, before it becomes all too complicated, and dealt with that realisation from there.

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