Monsters of Men (Patrick Ness), Chaos Walking trilogy

22 09 2010

Monsters of Men“War,” says the Mayor. “At last.”

This is how the final part of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy starts. Towards the end of Monsters of Men, I can only feel awe, hope, and respect. Awe for the talent with which Patrick Ness has managed to conclude this trilogy. Hope, that he will continue to write books of this stature, and respect for the way in which he lets his main characters make decisions.

If in The Knife we mainly got to see things and read things through “the voice” of Todd, Ness had already added a layer to that in The Ask and the Answer when we get both Todd and Viola’s perspective. In Monsters of Men, however, Ness now adds a third – and again a completely ‘different’ voice:  that of The Return, one of the Spackle who is – like Todd and Viola also are – caught between cultures, one who sees and speaks with the voice of the Clearing and the voice of the Land. All these ‘voices’ are linked in a completely unique way by Ness’s writing style (and obviously also by the existence of ‘the Noise’, be it controlled or uncontrolled Noise…), a style which is quite daring for a YA-novel.

Added to the imaginative writing style are themes which are some of the most commonly used themes of YA-fiction, such as coming-of-age,  love,  power, etc. Ness also uses these themes,  but he does it in such a clever way that the trilogy easily surpasses the level of ‘mere’ YA-fiction.  If you are just interested in reading a good adventure book, then the trilogy, will provide that thrilling ride for you. If you are interested in reading a coming-of-age story, then Todd’s story will appeal to you. If you are interested in romance, then you will like how Todd’s tale is intertwined with Viola’s. If you like things a little bit more fantastic and sci-fi, then the trilogy will also be to your liking. However, it should be clear that you can’t just pin down the trilogy to one particular genre.

Like any good piece of literature it crosses boundaries, building up layer upon layer, even treading on the path of social commentary and philosophy. It confronts you with the way in which our society is set up, forcing you to compare it with the way in which ‘the Land’ is organized, with the way the Mayor wants to rule society; how Todd and Viola see things; and how conflicted they both are about having to make decisions that have an impact on not just themselves but an entire society.

These books can and should be read by anyone who’s interested in  utterly awe-inspiring and thought-provoking literature.  The Chaos Walking trilogy was a joy to read…

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