Monsters of Men

This is the final book in the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, the first two books I loved, and I loved this one also. Perhaps not as much as the other two, but still a great deal. So much happens, and there are plenty of shocks, and a very sad conclusion.So we have a Spackle army bearing down on New Prentisston, as well as dealing with The Answer and their army. The Mayor is free from Todd, so he can defeat the Spackle, and Todd and him head off into battle. It’s exciting and scary reading. Especially when we find out that the Spackle have some new technology, strange sticky fire which kills a number of people, and almost defeats them. But Vi, who has made it to the Scout ship, ends up nearly sending a missile to destroy more of these fire wielders, to protect Todd. And this is the theme of the book, what people are willing to do to protect one another. It’s not just the Spackle that were busy, the Mayor has artillery, which fired, stopping Vi.

So begins the Second Spackle War, where the Mayor, the Answer and the new Settlers need to work together to try to bring peace, or victory. Obviously that’s easier said than done. But one of the first things we have to deal with, is Todd’s feelings about the battle:

That’s the nasty,  nasty secret of war-

When yer winning-

When yer winning, it’s ruddy thrilling

“You’re never more alive than in battle.” [the Mayor said]
“Never more dead after,” I say.”

War is terrible, but Todd acknowledges the fact that when you win, it can be exciting, you’re caught up in the rush of it all.

The Todd/Mayor relationship gets even more interesting, as the Mayor saves Todd’s life a number of times in the battle, but later, Todd returns the favour. You’re never quite sure how much is an act when it comes to the Mayor, but he appears to change as a person, and he puts that down to Todd. But Todd is changed too, as the Mayor gives him the ability to hide his noise, something Vi finds horrifying. Though that is quite interesting, considering she doesn’t have the noise, so why is it such a big deal if he hides it? Partly it shows his response to the war, the closing in, and shutting down, perhaps a symptom of PTSD? It’s not just his ability to hide his noise, he is also much better at using his noise to control others. And later on, when he uses it to make someone move out of the way, and saves their life, the question remains, should he have done it? Is it ever right to control someone?

 “It’s not how we fall. It’s how we get back up again.”

And we have a few shocks (spoilers!). Mistress Coyle, well, she can’t stand the Mayor winning. So much so, once again, she’ll risk a lot to kill him, including herself. And well, that was shocking. And then there’s Ben, oh yeah, he isn’t dead, just captive to the Sky (the leader of the Spackle), who is using him to get information about everyone.

And the ending, so close, so close. The Mayor resigns himself to be eaten by the monster fish, and Vi and Todd are together. Then the new Sky, Todd’s old ‘friend’ arrives, and fires, thinking him to be the Mayor. Leaving Todd in a coma, and fighting for life. (The short story at the end of this copy reveals Todd has indeed woken up.) Ugh that was so heart-breaking. Ness is certainly cruel, and I’ll say again, not a ‘children’s book’.

I’ve absolutely loved this trilogy. It’s now one of my favourites, it’s so heart-breaking, there’s so much action, it’s so interesting and the themes are so brilliantly explored. I love it. And I hope to read more Ness, and that his works continue to be as good as these.

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