YA Review: Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3)

Title: Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3)
Author: Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

I was planning to take a break before reading Book 3 of the Chaos Walking trilogy, but I found I couldn’t stop. The cliffhanger at the end of Book 2 was too much of a hook, so I jumped straight into Monsters of Men, and I’m very glad I did.

This book is wonderful. A step up, again, from The Ask and the Answer, it explores power and conflict from three different points of view. With themes of occupation, identity, and communication, it follows the characters from the first two books as the war they have been waiting for arrives.

Patrick Ness examines different types of power, and how wielding power in different ways affects the people who lead. There are vivid battle scenes, betrayal, sabotage, sacrifice, and determination, as the Point of View characters try to push events in a direction that suits them, and in a direction they can live with. The plot twists and turns, and the stakes creep higher, until events that seemed impossible in the previous books become inevitable, dangerous, and real.

I loved the central characters, and I loved the relationship between them. I really started to care about Todd and Viola, and the world convulsing around them. I cared about what they wanted, and about the events that trapped them both. I loved the complexity of the situation – not just two factions fighting to rule the colony, but three entirely different visions of the future, pitched against each other in steadily more destructive ways. I cared about the characters as they tried to negotiate and influence their factions to provoke or prevent the war, and the helplessness as each individual was swept along in the power games of the leaders.

This is a clever and affecting examination of power and corruption – of what makes a leader lead, and what makes people follow, even if the cost is betrayal and suicide. It is also a thought experiment in what it would take for everyone to live together and respect each other’s points of view. “Why can’t we learn to live with how we are?” One of the characters asks, “And whatever anyone chooses is okay by the rest of us?” This book tries to address that question. I don’t think it offers neat answers, but it puts forward ideas in a way that made me care. If everyone who reads it asks themselves the same question, then we’re half way to an answer – and isn’t that what fiction is for?

Have you read Monsters of Men? What did you think of the plot twists? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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