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Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Written by son of rambow on Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Published September 28th 2010 by Candlewick Press
ISBN 0763647519 (ISBN13: 9780763647513)

Reading Monsters of Men is like being on a roller coaster. At first it feels fairly slow, with tension building and building, and then you're hurtling down and hanging on for dear life. It took me several days to get through the first 200 pages or so, and then the last 400 I polished off in several hours.

The moral ambiguity of The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer (can Patrick Ness title a book or what?) continues as Todd and Viola attempt to negotiate peace among two human factions and the natives of the planet where the humans have settled. One of the things that intrigues me about this series as children's/YA reading is that Todd does some really, really terrible things, to the point where you wonder how he can possibly come back from them. Hence the title, which comes from the statement that "war makes monsters of men." Redemption is a major theme, along with the difficulty of putting aside blame and revenge for the greater good.

I always have a tough time when I've fallen for characters who then get put through hell, and Todd and Viola had me pretty early on, so I spent a good part of the book feeling anxious for them. The author keeps the reader hanging right up until the last page. Monsters of Men, like the first two books, is not a warm and fuzzy read, but it is a satisfying end to the trilogy, and I look forward to more books by Patrick Ness.

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