I finally read it!
I don’t know why it took so long to get around to this Chaos Walking finale. (Well, I kinda do – I wanted to reread the first two books so I wouldn’t be confused by the final one, as I often get to the last book in a series and realised I can’t remember anything about the previous books. Does anyone else get this? I also often get to the end of a book and think, ‘I loved that’ and then can’t remember the name of the main character. Is this normal?!)
Please be aware that, although I will try not to spoil Monsters of Men, this review will contain spoilers for The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer, so don’t read this if you haven’t finished those.
At first, I was dubious. I don’t trust final books, or sequels in general, because they rarely live up to the original. Book 2 was good but nothing special for me, so I was worried Monsters of Men might disappoint.
We begin with a loooong battle scene. This and the blurb made me groan. I thought I was in for a book-long battle. Reading about battles or watching battle scenes in films/TV? Bor-ing.
The battle ended, though, with more battles to come. However, they were spaced out enough for me to enjoy the story while still worrying for the characters in case an attack came at any moment.
My main con was the switching back and forth between first-person narratives. I’ve mentioned before how this irritates me, and I did scrunch up my nose when Viola first starting narrating chapters in Book 2. At the beginning of Book 3, though, this is taken to a whole new level.
Near the beginning, we switch constantly between Todd’s and Viola’s thoughts for about a hundred words at a time. It was obviously meant to create a sense of chaos, but it was annoying. You know how, when you get to a new chapter of a book, you’re pulled out of it for a second because the chapter heading reminds you you’re reading a book and not actually living it? Well, imagine that every 60 seconds. So distracting. Why couldn’t Todd just narrate it all? They were describing the same scene, for god’s sake!
I miss Todd’s sole authorial voice. It was good to see inside the head of a particular character from Book 2 that we didn’t know a lot about before, but I had to keep looking back at headers to see who was talking. This takes you out of the story. (The different fonts didn’t help either.)
Most of Viola’s narrated scenes could have been cut too, because whenever she met Todd, she would tell him what she’d been up to. This would be fine – except the reader had already seen it happen when she was narrating! There were a massive amount of duplicate scenes in this novel.
How about that villain, though, huh?!
Mayor Prentiss ended up unexpectedly conflicted. In the earlier books, he’s just out for power and will stop at nothing to get it, but this time, we got to see a little bit more of the man underneath the monster. (See what I did there?) At some points he even became – yeah, I’m gonna say it – likeable.
Ness manipulated the reader like a master when it came to Mayor Prentiss. I was even beginning to believe he’d changed – and he does change, just not in the way you’d expect.
The end to his story was brilliant and completely unexpected. He was a great villain – one of the best I’ve read about for a long time.
(I bloody hated Mistress Coyle though.)
This is Patrick Ness:
Ness basically likes to take hold of your heart and SQUEEEEEZE. That ending. Oh, that ending.
Normally I don’t like a novel to be left open; I like to be told exactly what happens at the end. However, in this instance I liked that we were kept guessing, even though one outcome was heavily hinted at. I was even kind of disappointed that everything was cleared up in the short story that followed it.
So, here’s the thing. I liked this book more than Book 2 but not as much as Book 1. What do you think the reason might be for this?
Jesus, any mention of that dog kills me.
‘I AIN’T LEAVING HER!’ I shout back at him –
Dammit, I ain’t –
I left Manchee –
I left him behind –
And I ain’t doing it again –
The above quote made my throat close up.
Manchee felt forgotten about in Book 2 – he’s mentioned once, not even by name – and Todd seemed to miss him more in Monsters of Men. That dog made The Knife of Never Letting Go perfect for me, and throughout both sequels I just wanted him back.
Sadly, this lack of attachment to the characters stopped me giving this book 5 stars: I just didn’t care about anyone like I cared about Manchee. So I’ve gone for 4/5. I thought this was a really great end to an awesome trilogy.