Ness, P. (2010). Monsters of Men. NY: Candlewick Press
YA Lit / Dystopian, Post-Apocolyptic
Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of the Year for Fiction (2010); Carnegie Medal in Literature (2011)
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
This was a spectacular trilogy, and if I could do half stars, I would have given just this book 4.5 out of 5. The story and ideas and format remain original, and this third installment of Chaos Walking is a real roller coaster ride. It gets very intense, then the intensity seems to resolve itself, and just when you’re feeling calm, you’re thrown for a loop again. It’s like slowing to the end of the ride, when your heart stops racing and you’re beginning to recover and suddenly, you are jerked forward and going through the whole ride again.
In Monsters of Men, a third narrator voice is added, and I honestly didn’t like it. (reason one for the 4.5) I found myself just skimming through every time this narrator came up. I don’t think Ness could have eliminated this voice because the perspective is critical, but it just kind of bored me the way it was written. It was probably a good thing to have that happening every so often because the rest of the book was so emotionally exhausting.
As with the other books, there were plenty of surprises and unexpected twists – and lots of death and gore, as would be expected in battle. Mayor Prentiss is extremely interesting in this installment. . . I just love to hate that guy. Mistress Coyle is another character who gets even more interesting and does something very shocking and unexpected. Actually, the Mayor does too, but I didn’t find his action as believable as Mistress Coyle’s. Ahhh, it’s so hard to talk about this book without revealing anything.
The second reason I made this book less than 5 out of 5 stars is the ending. It seemed to me that perhaps the ending was done so that there would be the option of a continuation or spin-off of the series. That makes me crazy. Perhaps Ness left it the way he did so the reader could decide what happened, but I don’t like that angle. I want a conclusion, firm and clear and it seems like most of the time, books with loose endings end up getting more sequels, and they are usually inferior. A major character dies in Monsters of Men, and I can’t see how the series could be any good without that character in it.
As with the other two books, the Clean-O-Meter rating stays at a 3.0 – 3.5 out of 5 on the scale. It’s violent -- but it’s about war and could be way more graphic and doesn’t go there -- but there is only “substitute” swearing (for example, “effing” in lieu of the full F Bomb) and there is no sex, sexual situations, or sexual references. It gets closer this time – there is GASP a kiss and people imagining being GASP naked with others. (Clean-O-Meter Ratings: 1 – naughty, naughty. . . . . .5 – squeaky clean)
The trilogy’s curse is its length (over 1600 pages for the three books), and I’m afraid that will turn-off many a reader. But if you start it, you WILL finish.