Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the last volume of this stunning trilogy and in keeping with the tone of the entire series it is a suitably thrilling and gut wrenching way to end things. The shock factor and amazing world building from the first part may be lessened in intensity here, but it’s still probably as perfect an ending as we can get.
The story picks up from where the last one ended. The mayor is still ambiguously creepy and nice in turns, a veritable fuse looking like he can go off at any point of time. On the other side, Madame Coyle’s army lays in wait, with the settlers uncomfortably perched in their midst unsure of what to make of this almighty mess they have arrived in the middle of. For the two human armies may soon realize that their shared future lies in a form of uneasy truce. There is a potentially bigger and unexpected enemy back to reclaim their land and honor – the Spackle or the indigenous species of the planet. Considering the lovely way they have been treated by human settlers, it’s no surprise the Spackle in their multitude would probably not mind it too much if the entire human population on their planet is crushed.
However, the Spackle are not as ruthless in their disposition and are willing to find ways to alleviate further pain and suffering. And there is Todd and Viola of course. Stuck in separate camps for the most part, they pine for each other, but in that brutal, gut wrenchingly real way that makes this relationship stand out from the usual fluff dealt out in most young adult romances. And with the Mayor’s surveillance tactics on women getting more brutal, Viola has no choice but to willingly submit to the cause and infect herself in the process. Todd meanwhile feels the pull of the Mayor in his head, despite his best efforts to keep him out, but the Mayor may just see him as a surrogate son and the only one capable of keeping him from giving in completely to his ruthless instincts. And in the process teach Todd how to master some of the mental powers he uses to control his army. This relationship, full of trepidation on Todd’s part, throws a wonderful side plot to this story and keeps us in thrall to just what the mayor may be planning, if anything.
As expected, there are a couple of shocking twists and turns before the story finally winds down, and even then it keeps us in a slight limbo – one which makes us loathe to leave this world and Todd and Viola. An additional narrative arc is introduced here, apart from Todd’s and Viola’s, and that is of the Spackle 1017, Todd’s would be nemesis from the last part. These sections are inventively done, showing a look into the minds and ways of the indigenous population of the planet and their leader. Todd’s emotional bond with his horse, Angharrad, is another touching aspect of the tale. Sure, it’s nothing like the amazing relationship that was portrayed between him and his bloody brilliant and tragic dog Manchee, but it’s good in its own right.
I loved this series and I really cannot recommend it more to any reader. If you even remotely consider yourself a reader, pick up these books. Really.