Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
After I read the first two books in the series, my reviews on Goodreads were pretty much one or two lines expressing my emotion with the book and my desire for the next one to appear on my desk immediately. I wanted to write more about this book, since I've finished the series, but it's so hard: all three of the books really play with your emotions, get you hyped up, keep you reading, and so to stop and try to put it all together objectively is really difficult.
The Chaos Walking series puts us down in one small place on one continent on one entirely alien planet. As the series continues, our perspective grows along with the protagonist's until we can understand the enormity of what surrounds us and what is still unknown. Two small and relatively unimportant leaders become the driving force towards what could be the extermination of the entire planet, or its salvation, and we see it all through the eyes of a teenage boy and a girl, a newcomer to the planet.
Along the way, the series explores what makes us human, what makes us part of our communities, gender conflict, and racial/species conflict. It does so in a very intense way. There is no shying away from violence and very little peacetalk. The native race of the planet is enslaved brutally and the women, due to the strange effect the planet has on men, end up being treated as second-class citizens almost everywhere. But none of it is heavy handed or moralizing. We experience the horror of it throughout the storyline as background mentions or as pivotal plot points, but it's never beat over the reader's head. There's a lot left unsaid and left to be inferred.
I have to say the battle scenes and violence are really intense. The writing style really flows and keeps the intensity up. It can be very draining to read, but it adds a lot to the series.
It's absolutely one of my favorite series I've read in a long time.
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