Minor spoilers for all books in the Chaos Walking trilogy ahead.
Patrick Ness’ MONSTERS OF MEN was my favorite read of July, which is funny because I have some serious gripes with it. For example: the final showdown with the “bad guy” felt anti-climatic to me, which was a bit disappointing after nearly 600 pages of build-up. The three POVs that I at first found brilliant began to blend together on account of how often the narration jumped around. Todd and Viola continued to be so blinded by their love for each other that they made foolish, risky, dumb decisions again and again. And then there’s the Noise. In general, it is an amazing, thrilling concept, but I’m still not sure I fully buy into it. In book one it was relatively basic to understand: men have Noise, women don’t. But we learn more as the series continues and by this final installment, I had more questions than answers. Why, exactly, does the Mayor’s chant help him control his Noise? How, exactly, is Noise used as a weapon? Why does Viola’s name give Todd the power to throw it at people? Are we to assume that if the humans truly opened themselves to each other they would end up like the Spackle, with a universal Noise? And speaking of unanswered questions, what on earth happened to the original women of Prentisstown? (We know they had all died at the start of book one and we hear two possible explanations for this throughout the series, but it’s never truly answered.)
But, but, but…
I still forgive this novel (and series) for its flaws. It’s one of those rare examples of a story where the flaws barely mattered because of what I felt…in my chest, my gut, my entire being. Ness has such a talent for capturing human nature, and I think this is why I love this story so much. Because my small questions apply to the specifics of the world but not the people IN it. And this trilogy is about people. It is about settlers and natives. It is about love and hate and war. It parallels tragedies in our own world so clearly while still standing on its own. It shows how relying on each other makes people both strong and weak, sensitive and dangerous, sympathetic and blind. I can’t really put into words how much this novel made me feel. And the ending. Oh, god, the ending. Talk about perfect stream of consciousness!
If you haven’t read this series, know it’s an investment–the books are big!–but I think it’s well worth it. Cliffhangers, flaws, and all. <3
Originally reviewed here