Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Monsters of Men

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, book 3)
By Patrick Ness, read by Angela Dawe, Nick Podehl, and MacLeod Andrews
Published 201 by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

WARNING: There will be spoilers for the first two books in the series, and possible spoilers for this title as well. To read my reviews of the first two titles, go here and here.

Todd and Viola have struggled and persevered, only to find themselves now on the brink of a potentially world-destroying war. Both are wracked with indecision and self-doubt as they try to choose the best course of action - one that will keep them both safe as well as preserve as many lives as possible. But each decision gets more and more heartbreaking and Todd and Viola are pushed to a shocking conclusion.

I CAN'T EVEN. YOU GUYS. I MEAN SERIOUSLY. I want to just do this whole review in caps-lock because of FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS and THINGS in this book. I mean, I don't even think I can do a proper review because this series has absolutely blown me away and left me speechless. My first reaction to finishing this was, "DAMN YOU PATRICK NESS!" I simultaneously love and hate Ness for what he's done to me through this series. I love him because he has created one of the most brilliant and disturbing and heartbreaking and wonderful young adult series EVER. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that these are some of the best books I've ever read. I hate him for all the same reasons - I wanted to curl up in a ball and not read anything else immediately after finishing it because I was a total wreck and positive that nothing else would be a suitable follow-up to this. I don't know how much I can speak about this particular book that I couldn't say about the entire series. I do want to note that I think it's brilliant that Ness introduced a new perspective for each title in the series: book one just shows us Todd's point of view; in book two, we get to see Viola's as well, and now, in book three, we are introduced to life through the eyes of 1017 - one of the Spackle. It's a potent narrative device that serves to pull you deeper and deeper into the story and the world and the characters. The addition of 1017's voice in this book is particularly skillful, as New World is on the verge of war and the Spackle provide a unique perspective in this situation. Because I'd read the first two, I pretty much knew that something horrible and gut-wrenching was going to happen in this one. It only became more apparent about halfway through the book when I actually said to myself, "This is clearly not going to end well." And that's part of the beauty of what Ness has crafted - this series will take you from incredible good feelings to complete sadness. As a matter of fact, each book will provide that roller coaster of emotions. These are INTENSE novels that will just grab you and refuse to let you go. But for readers who can handle the disturbing content of the books, they will find themselves rewarded with proof of how truly engaging and meaningful books can be.

Ugh, like I said, I don't even think this is a proper review. I listened to the audiobook again for this final title and it was just as wonderful as the first two. Though I knew the book wouldn't end well for all the characters I'd grown so attached to, I didn't find myself as truly emotionally wrecked as I expected to be. Perhaps it's because I knew that Ness was going to try to tear out my heart in the end; I was better prepared for it. But that didn't lessen its importance. This series is complex and dark and I loved it all so much that I can't even make sense of it enough to write a sensible review. Just please go read it. Or listen to it.

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