Monsters of Men

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking, Book 3)

As a world-ending war surges around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches. And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many. The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist? To save the life of the one you love most, or thousands of strangers? To believe in redemption, or assume it is lost? Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage toward a shocking finale. (Amazon.com)

I just finished this book last night and you guys, my emotions are still totally raw.  This book is phenomenal.  The entire series is totally breathtaking.  If you, for any reason have skipped out on it (like, for example, I was never interested because a) it didn’t sound like my thing and b)I knew it would tear me up), do yourself a favor and read it. It’s not a snuggly, warm, happy series, but it is so good and Ness has given you characters to completely love, characters you want to root for, characters you want to see succeed. And then he’s created those you will hate with a fierce passion. Bad guys who are supposed to be good guys and bad guys who are just inherently evil and guys who aren’t bad but want revenge.  It’s all so dramatic and it’s so, so good.

If you’ve not read the other books (start with The Knife of Never Letting Go), there are some spoilers here, so be warned.

In this final installment we pick up where The Ask and The Answer left off. Todd has untied his prisoner, Mayor Prentiss, in the hopes that he will help him fight against the oncoming attack from the Spackle, now organized into an enormous army with weapons the humans have never seen.  Viola is on her way to the Scout ship, which has finally landed, signaling that the new settlers are only a couple of months behind.

There is so much war in this book. And Todd is becoming more powerful. He can quiet his Noise now. And he can control people with it too.  And it makes Viola feel cut off from him when she can’t hear him.  He’s getting too close to the Mayor (hoping he’s changing him, making him a better man).  And all the while, Viola is spending more and more time in a sick-bed on the scout ship because the band on her arm is badly infected, bad enough to kill her.

I know. Ugh!

This time around, we hear from a new voice.  Todd and Viola still share the story from their individual perspectives, but we get to know the Spackle and that notorious number 1017- the one who vowed to kill Todd for his cowardice. By sharing more about the Spackle, we get insight into the planet and its Noise and how this is not necessarily the curse that men have thought it to be. Perhaps it could be a good thing if only they’d let it be.  Or unless you’re the Mayor and believe that controlling people is for their best interest.

This was such an excellent end to a fantastic series. I’m so sorry that it’s over.  I loved these characters, especially Todd and Viola. The love they have for each other is beyond friendship (and only has the slightest tinge of romantic love). It is deep and all-consuming in the best, most self-sacrificial way. These two would do absolutely anything to save one another.  And it’s that devotion, that drive to see the other survive that pulls them through and keeps them fighting against what often seems like insurmountable odds.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 Was there ever any doubt?  This book had me before it began because I loved the characters so much already, but it was truly a good story on its own and such a painful, heart-wrenching conclusion that had me sobbing. And yet somehow, in the very end there was still hope. THAT is what I needed for my Todd and Viola.

Memorable Quote:

(Viola)

I was going to cause this damage myself.  I was going to say, yes, do it, fire it—

Kill all these Spackle, these Spackle with their real reason to attack someone who deserves it more than anyone on this planet—

If it would save Todd, it wouldn’t have mattered, I was going to do it—

I would have killed hundreds, thousands to save him.

I would have started an even bigger war for Todd.

And that realization is so huge I have to reach out a hand to Acorn to steady myself. 

The Ask and The Answer

The Ask and the Answer (The Chaos Walking Trilogy, Book #2) by Patrick Ness

We were in the square, in the square where I’d run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her – But there weren’t no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men…

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

The Story:

This is going to get spoilery y’all, so if you haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go, consider yourself warned (and seriously, you’re missing out on an amazing book.  It tore me up, but it was such a good journey).

When we last left Todd and Viola, they’d arrived in Haven, the town they’d hoped would protect them from Mayor Prentiss and his army.  What they find in those last painful pages of the book, is that the Mayor and his men have taken the town. Oh and he isn’t just Mayor anymore. No, you can call him Mr. President thankyouverymuch.  Todd and Viola are separated and thus, it all ended in a shizzstorm of WHHHHATTT?  So, all in all, it was a shocking turn in an already painfully good story.

As The Ask and The Answer opens, Todd and Voila have had no contact for ages.  Viola has been sent to a house of healing to nurse her gunshot wound (though she is clearly being kept against her will) and Todd is imprisoned.  The Mayor uses them against each other, promising to protect each if they cooperate and appease him.  In his smooth, swarmy way, he seems almost kind (oh, but there’s such an evil undercurrent. Don’t trust him). His motives and his means are cruel, but it’s clear that he sees in both Todd and Viola a strength he appreciates and hopes to harness.

In the house of healing, Viola is exposed to a group of women who are part of an underground group called The Answer.  They begin to attack the town in an effort to weaken the Mayor and his forces.  They attempt to get into Viola’s head, to convince her that Todd is on the Mayor’s side now and that the best way to save him is to help them save the town.  It makes sense, except that Viola isn’t really sure she can trust them.

And poor Todd.  He’s put to work with Davy Prentiss, you know, the guy who shot Voila. Davy is one screwed up guy, battling his hatred for Todd, his desire to please his father and his overall void of human emotion.  The two oversee a group of Spackle who are treated horribly—herded, branded and forced to work to further more of the Mayor’s evil plans.

The Mayor’s influence wears on Todd. And it only gets worse when Voila disappears with The Answer, abandoning Todd.  As a battle rages between The Answer and New Prentisstown (that’s the new name of Haven), the Mayor adds Todd to his highest ranks, adding a faction called The Ask.   So basically, Todd and Viola are on totally opposite sides now (but not really). Viola wants to rescue him, and Todd is lost in his anguish over Viola, shutting himself down emotionally to survive the Mayor and his plans. It’s total insanity.

My Take:

Of course I loved it.  Of course! It was a tougher start than the last one. It took a while to get going, but once it did the story was absolutely fantastic.  I still have so much love for Todd and Viola, two such strong characters, driven by their devotion to one another. It makes them go to such lengths, sacrifice so much of themselves, just to ensure the well-being of the other.  Their bond is one that I can’t even label. It’s not romantic, but it’s something deeper than mere friendship.  Though they don’t know exactly who they can trust, even when separated they know that they’ll do anything for the other.

As with The Knife of Never Letting Go, this book ends with a cliffhanger, setting it up perfectly for the third and final book.  My only apprehension in reading the next book is that I know I won’t be ready to let go of these two.  They are such phenomenal characters. It will absolutely break my heart to say goodbye.

Crush Intensity: 4.75/5 Read this series. Do it!

The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought? (Goodreads)

The Story:

In thirty days Todd, the last boy in Prentisstown, will turn thirteen, officially making him a man.  For reasons unclear at the time, Todd’s guardians, Ben and Cillian, tell him to flee the town.  They send him away with a backpack and a book from his long-dead mother. They don’t explain why he has to leave, but they tell him that it’s urgent.  In fact, it’s a matter of life and death.

They can’t tell him more because of the Noise.  The Noise has stripped men of their privacy and left every man’s thoughts open for all to hear. It’s a disease viciously spread by the Spackle who once inhabited the planet.  And worse, not only did it shed light on the secret thoughts of men, it killed every woman in existence. But Ben suggests that perhaps there are places other than Prentisstown—towns where there is no Noise.  Places where life is different from home; where Todd can finally be safe.

Frightened and uncertain, Todd leaves with his dog, Manchee, and embarks on a journey that he doesn’t totally believe in.  He just wants to be home.  By the outskirts of town he discovers something amazing—Viola, a young girl (something he’s never before seen).  Viola’s family is dead and she reluctantly joins Todd as they are both eagerly pursued by Mayor Prentiss, Aaron (the young, evil preacher from town) and an army of men set on capturing them.  They have no idea why they’re being chased, but they push forward, moving from town to town—never quite safe and never entirely sure who to trust.  They are in search of a place called Haven, a place where there may be safety and there may be a cure for the Noise.   They aren’t even sure that such a place exists, but they trudge on together in the hopes of finding something other than the evil that is always only a few steps behind.

My Take:

You guys, this book tore me up.  The start was a tad slow, mostly because I was as confused as Todd, trying to make sense of the folks in Prentisstown, their backward ways and all the damn Noise.  But soon, very soon, I was engrossed.  I wanted to protect Todd and Viola, two poor kids who don’t know where they’ll find a friendly face.  They barely know if they can trust each other.  And still, they got to me, as did sweet little Manchee (whose thoughts you can hear as well).  And the end.  Oh the end ripped my heart out and left me wanting more.

This story is more than just one of survival.  It’s about the actual journey these two take emotionally.  It’s about how they are driven by the tiniest shred of hope and how, as they learn to trust each other, they push on for one another.  This is not a kissing book. There isn’t a hint of romance or swoon, but it grabbed my heart all the same.

Crush Intensity– 5/5 It was fantastic.  Totally different, but excellent just the same.

The Way I See It:

Asa Butterfield (from Nanny McPhee Returns, among other films) as Todd.

Chloe Moretz as Voila.  And, if you can’t already tell, I just saw a preview of Hugo, the film Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz are doing together.  I couldn’t erase these kids from my head as I thought about Todd and Viola.