Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on destroying the others.
Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no chance of escape.
As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the fighting? How can there ever be peace when they’re so hopelessly outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices await?
But then a third voice breaks into the battle, one bent on revenge ...
Picking up immediately after THE ASK AND THE ANSWER, Todd’s released the Mayor to fight off a Spackle attack because the Mayor is New Prentisstown’s only hope for survival. Meanwhile Viola has joined Mistress Coyle, whose Answer are leading the resistance against Mayor Prentiss and is supported by Simone and Bradley – another advance party from the colonists’ space ship – who have a space craft of their own with weapons that could end the war. The weapons are needed because the Spackle are organised and angry, ready to take back The Land from the human invaders who have treated them so badly and joined by 1017, whose hatred of the humans (Todd in particular) knows no limits.
Todd and Viola are the only hope for humanity’s survival. Somehow they must find a way to make Mayor Prentiss and the Answer join together against a common threat. But this is easier said than done – both sides are as eager to destroy each other as work for their own survival. Matters are not helped by the fact that Todd and Viola are keeping secrets from each other and as their mistrust grows, the chances of victory grow more faint.
Patrick Ness’s conclusion to the Chaos Walking Trilogy is an ambitious and complex novel, one that switches between Todd, Viola and 1017’s voices to tell the story (a clever technique – 3 voices for the third book just as there were 2 for the second and one for the first). Ness is at his best when he shows the attempts of the two warring sides to come together and the way in which neither Prentiss nor Coyle are willing to bend is chillingly and realistically portrayed. However, the book sags in places and there’s a lot of repetition of ideas and feelings. A love triangle between Lee, Viola and Todd never really catches fire and the twist as to the secret at the heart of the Spackle is easy to guess. My biggest problem with the book though is the low key resolution to Mayor Prentiss’s story and the slightly soap opera ending, which didn’t quite ring true.
The scope of this book and the ideas that Ness conveys mean that it’s worth reading and it did make me turn the pages even if it wasn’t quite the spectacular conclusion that I was hoping for.
It’s only because THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO and THE ASK AND THE ANSWER are such amazing reads that MONSTERS OF MEN is a bit of a disappointment. It is a flawed book – sagging in some areas and with elements that don’t work – but the ideas and the scope keep you reading and it’s worth it to get the conclusion to Todd and Viola’s story.
Cross-posted to cool_teen_reads and yalitlovers.