Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness.

monsters-of-menCindy: War makes monsters of men (and women) and war is upon the citizens of New Prenticetown in Monsters of Men (Candlewick, 2010), the conclusion to the stunning Chaos Walking Trilogy. If you’re not familiar with the trilogy, then what are you doing reading this post? Get thee to a library or bookstore and get your hands on book one: The Knife of Never Letting Go. For our readers who may have missed our initial version of Bookends Blog, you can see a blast from the past with our 2008 blog post of Knife on our archived site. In his starred review of book one, Booklist staffer Ian Chipman said:

this troubling, unforgettable opener to the Chaos Walking trilogy is a penetrating look at the ways in which we reveal ourselves to one another, and what it takes to be a man in a society gone horribly wrong.

Now, if you’ve already read Knife and its sequel, The Ask and the Answer, you’re just trying to get your hands on this book to find out what happens next and how it all ends. The book will be on sale September 28th but here are some tidbits in the meantime. The book weighs in at over 600 pages and has more escapes and breath-holding moments than Harry Houdini pulled off in his day. The Noise is given more depth and meaning again in this installment and a new narrator, Spackle #1017, joins Todd and Viola in telling the story. My personal philosophy is that there’s no such thing as a void, so even if evil is eliminated in one form, it will pop up elsewhere. It does so again and again as the Ask, the Answer, and the Land (the Spackle) seek power, control or peace.

This is one of year’s most sought after galleys by the teens in our Best Books club and even among our college graduate past members who stay in touch. For those of you who have read more than one of the installments I’m interested to know which book you liked the best? Usually in a trilogy, book two is not my favorite, but it is here. I loved the opener for its introduction to great characters, an intriguing world, and the best dog in literature ever. Book three is a satisfying ending to a great series and has many memorable moments, but it perhaps has too many memorable moments. Book two wins for me, but I’ll be rereading them all when the audios are available. I can’t wait to see how Brilliance is going to handle the Noise.

Lynn: I’ve been stewing about how to write my section of this blog. I truly enjoyed reading this amazing conclusion to an amazing series. It was completely absorbing, the fascinating thematic issues were beautifully integrated and I found the conclusion ultimately satisfying. This was a terrific read and I know I want to reread the entire series. You can’t ask for much more than that. But – you knew there was a but coming didn’t you – I do have some quibbles that honesty compels me to discuss.

First is the pacing. This is a long book and I wish it had been shorter as the pace faltered noticeably for me at the 1/3 mark. Around 300 pages I was having to push myself to keep reading as the momentum slowed and my interest was flagging. I did keep going and at the halfway point I was well and truly hooked into the story again and had trouble putting the book down from then on. My other issue involves something signature to the series – cliffhangers. Ness used the cliffhanger very effectively in the first two books but in book three, I felt it was over used as the the major device in moving the plot forward. I began to wonder what spectacular crises would happen next as I approached the end of each chapter! A little less of this would have strengthened the book for me. And lastly, some of the characters became less complexly developed for me in this book, the mayor in particular although some explanation at the end helped a bit with that.

OK – I now feel at bit like a grumpy nitpicker because overall this is an amazing book and an even more amazing series. Grab it the minute you can and read it. Let me know if you think I’m all wet!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

3 Comments on "Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness."

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  1.' mia c says:

    I am a public YA librarian in Massachusetts and had to get a friend from Ireland to send me a copy– how dare they publish it there first?! Said copy is now circulating among anxious teens at my library, and there is a waiting list among my adult friends, too. I agree that pacing can be the only issue, for me, with these books, I actually felt it more in the first one than in the last (that point where they were just running and running towards the end of Knife, I felt like saying ‘Yeah, we get it, you’re running’) but my reading of Mosnters may have been skewed because I devoured it while on a plane trip so had the luxury of not having to put it down and go back to it. Yet I also agree that the second book was my favorite, everything just got so much more sophisticated without getting bogged down. I hope this final installment will garner all the attention and praise the series deserves.

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