Friday, June 18, 2010

REVIEW: Monsters of Men

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking)Ness, P.  (2010).  Chaos Walking:  Monsters of Men.  London:  Walker Books.


603 pages.

Appetizer: This is the final book in Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy.
Let me tell you, I had a PAIN of a time remembering exactly what had happened when the last book ended.  In fact, I had a bit of a conversation with myself trying to figure it out:

The dog died?
No that was midway through book one.  ...And that SUCKED.
They arrived at the town?
End of book one and start of book two.  Have you completely forgotten about The Ask and the Answer?
That one undying dude falling over a waterfall?
Book two...some time?  Book one?  No, two, I think
Oh, right, right, right.  The main dude was working for the bad guys and what's-her-name was working for the healers.
Yes, but that's not the ending.
Kay, whatever.  This book is over 600 pages.  Peeps are fighting.  Remember the sides as you go.  Just start reading!

Monsters of Men picks up right when the last book left off.  Thus causing my above conversation  Of course, had I read beyond the first two paragraphs I would have realized the following paragraphs would summarize the impending dramas.

And by "impending dramas," I mean war.  The first 70 pages or so go back and forth quickly between the points of view of Todd (who is preparing to fight an army of Spackle) and Viola (who is going to tell the arriving humans the truth of the planet's situation).  It's an intense, don't you dare put this book down, section of text.

There's also a third perspective given voice in this book, that of 1017, the only surviving Spackle from the execution of all the Spackle slaves.  While a little confusing at moments, the character has a strong voice.

As I was reading the book, my mind kept going to World War II.  There are a lot of parallels in terms of a genocide, forming alliances, deciding whether not to drop bombs, etc.  Of course, the fact that the Spackle employ guerrilla tactics draws parallels to the Vietnam War.  Lots of wars.

There were also a lot of character foils.  You can compare Todd to the Mayor.  Todd to Lee.  The Mayor to Ben.  Todd to 1017.  Viola to 1017.  Viola to Mistress Coyle.  And on and on.

The pacing of the book is very impressive.  Throughout the entire series, Ness has known how to keep the pressure on (although a portion of the second book did drag for me a little).  In this book there are waves of intenseness that make you go "Oh, shiz!  Can't stop reading."  But even during the calmer moments, the story is building tension for that next wave of chaos.  As a writer, it'd be worth studying how Ness accomplishes this so well.

The end of the book, of the series, is a satisfying one.  As a whole, I don't like to think of this trilogy as a series.  I think the story is really just one ginormous, gigundo, HUGE book.  An INTENSE ginormous, gigundo, huge book.

Dinner Conversation:

"War," says Mayor Prentiss, his eyes glinting.  "At last."
"Shut up," I say.  "There ain't no at last about it.  The only one who wants this is you."
"Nevertheless," he says, turning to me with a smile.  "Here it comes."
And of course I'm already wondering if untying him so he could fight this battle was the worst mistake of my life--" (p.1).

"I only ever been down here once, when I ran thru it the other way with Viola in my arms, carrying her down the zigzag road when she was dying, carrying her into what I thought was safety, but all I found was the man riding by my side, the man who killed a thousand Spackle to start this war, the man who tortured Viola for informayshun he already knew, the man who murdered his own son--
"And what other kind of man would you want leading you into battle?" he says, reading my Noise.  "What other kind of man is suitable for war?"
A monster, I think, remembering what Ben told me once.  War makes monsters of men" (pp. 10-11).

"He is worse than the others, I show.  He is worst of all of them.
Because he knew he was doing wrong.  He felt the pain of his actions-
But he did not amend them, shows the Sky.
The rest are worth as much as their pack animals, I show, but worst is the one who knows better and does nothing" (p. 84).

"And if you didn't make personal decisions, you wouldn't be a person.  All war is personal somehow, isn't it.  For somebody?  Except it's usually hate" (p. 288).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

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