Sunday, June 19, 2011
Book Review: Monsters of Men
While waiting for our library to acquire this third installment, Monsters of Men, in Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking series, I almost forgot about it. The first two books pulled me in with a super magnetic pull. I was hooked from the very beginning by the intriguing idea that all of the men in this dystopia were unable to silence the audible noise of their inner-most thoughts.
Each book moves at an incredible pace. You feel propelled from beginning to end. However, I think the appeal, for me anyway, diminished with each book. I was most impressed by The Knife of Never Letting Go and when it ended, I was anxious to locate the second installment. The Ask and the Answer was equally riveting, but plot elements began to feel outlandish and drawn out. It began to feel unbelievable that so many difficulties would beset the main characters, Todd and Viola, as they attempted to evade the pursuing armies and bring peace to the chaotic world.
I won't say that I didn't enjoy Monsters of Men. I did enjoy it. I couldn't put it down, from beginning to end. But, again, I began to feel slight disappointment with the over-embellished plot elements. In this book, Patrick Ness, adds another narrator voice and I never really felt connected to that third primary character. This third narrator seems so much more highly evolved and his perspectives (and those of his kind) were loftier than the humans.
Although, I understood the point Ness was trying to hammer home, that war makes monsters of men, it seemed a bit too preachy and over the top with endless new wrinkles to the progress of the story. In addition, I felt hoodwinked by the ending (a confusing episode where a character dies, but then comes back to life). I suppose my final analysis is that it just required a bit too much "willful suspension of disbelief."
Still, I heartily recommend this series. It is fast-paced and thoroughly absorbing. I have encouraged my non-reading teen son to attempt it (if he is ever required to select something for a class - I'm not to the point of forced summer reading). The books are sure to appeal to both male and female teen readers. Due to the graphic descriptions of violence and the language, I would not recommend this series for middle grade readers. However, the books do clearly reflect the corrupting nature of power and the tenuous balance of information overload. They provide plenty of profitable things to think about and a romp of a ride.