I had completed all save the last couple of chapters of MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness (Candlewick, September 2010) on the flight back from California Sunday. I wanted to read the final piece after I was rested enough to withstand what I was certain would be a harrowing conclusion. So, this morning, after watching last week's Daily Show and Colbert Report episodes carefully DVRd, I plunged back into the fray with Tood and Viola and 1017. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, could have prepared me for the roller coaster ride I took willingly (and will take again as I prepare to read this series again from start to finish). Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle (recall them from THE ASK AND THE ANSWER) are embroiled in a war against one another and now joined (perhaps) in battling the Spackle who have massed in the thousands to avenge their treatment. Todd and Viola long for a way to find peace in the midst of war. However, each is being manipulated by others who see war as a way to gain total power. Never does this book feel didactic or like a treatise on how war creates monsters of men (and women). That is part of Ness' skill. Overriding it all is the delicate character development that has been building from when we first met Todd, Viola, 1017, Prentiss, and the other players in this trilogy. <299>
I think this series has been overshadowed by THE HUNGER GAMES to some degree. I hope that readers will discover it, see the wonderful connections that can be made, and rejoice in the fact that the books (while touching on similar themes) are separate and distinctive and deserving of more readers. I am now handing them over to my better half who is suspicious of all things YA ever since I tricked him into Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S GAME as purely an adult book. However, as I booktalked the Chaos Walking series, the light came on in his eyes. HOOKED! As for me, I am still feeling the punch of this book.