Monsters of Men/Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

Monsters of Men: Whew!

The breakneck pace I noted in my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go and my abbreviated—I ain’t got time for no stinking review ‘cause I got to get on to the next one—review of The Ask and the Answer continues, only slightly throttled down, in Monsters of Men, the third, and unfortunately, final, book in the Chaos Walking series.

I have no idea how Patrick Ness wrote the trilogy, but the way it reads is one big ambitious story split into thirds, much like The Lord of the Rings was initially one big book that for marketing purposes was sliced into three pieces. It worked well for Tolkien, right? Anyway, there’s no hint of afterthought here. Monsters had to follow Ask which had to follow Knife. And they connected seamlessly—setting, characters, conflict. The characters’ choices made sense, as did the changes they went through (or didn’t go through).

In my short review of The Ask and the Answer I mentioned the concept of Scene and Sequel and the fact that there was a high proportion of Scene (action on the page) in the first two volumes, and not so much Sequel (reaction to the scene, interior monologue, point of view stuff). There are a few more opportunities to catch your breath in Monsters, a few more chances to think about possibilities and philosophical notions and who’s doing what and who’s good and who’s bad and the gray areas in between.

But still, there’s a lot happening in Monsters, and the few breaks intensify the action when it ramps back up again. Aside from (and contributing to) the slight slackening of pace, there’s the introduction of another point of view, which dilutes the intensity of the focus a bit but makes up for it by giving the reader a deeper appreciation for the universal “humanity” of all reasoning beings, even when those beings aren’t human.

When I wasn’t completely caught up in the story, I spent some moments admiring the author’s imagination and organizational skills (it’s a BIG story) and above all, character development. No cardboard characters here. I’m not going to get into spoilers just to convince you, but if you haven’t already read the trilogy (it’s not new), I highly recommend it.

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