Monsters of Men

Monsters of MenMonsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Chaos Walking # 3
Publisher: Walker & Company
Number of pages: 603
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

In the riveting conclusion to the acclaimed dystopian series, a boy and girl caught in the chaos of war face devastating choices that will decide the fate of a world.

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.

* * *

So it took me a while to write a review of this book, for several reasons. First is the usual excuse that I am just busy (I still have a huge review backlog), second is that I don’t know how to start the review, and third is because I’m just not sure how to really rate this book.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness is the final installment to the Chaos Walking trilogy, and it is all about war. And it’s not just the kind of war that we’ve read in The Hunger Games trilogy, but a bigger, badder and more intense kind of war that kind of exhausted me when I was reading it. Wait, scratch that — it did not just kind of exhausted me but I really got exhausted.

I’m not sure how to write about the plot of the book because I’m afraid my words won’t suffice. Even the summary I posted above doesn’t say much about the everything that’s happened in the book. It was intense, but I loved the intensity it carried – it starts out with a bang and pauses and then brings it back all over again. The stakes are higher, and there isn’t just two sides in this war. You’d find yourself wondering just who really is the bad guy in this, and if the actions of the “good” people would be justified because of their intentions. I felt torn over the motivations of the people, and somehow, reading about them as they were revealed made me sympathize even with the most unlikely characters. Yes, even the Mayor — I think he had some of the best moments in this book and I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. He’s such a complex villain that it’s not easy to simply just  hate him for all his supposed evilness.

It’s exhausting. But it’s also gripping. And as with every Patrick Ness book, I shed tears, because he can do that with how he deals with his characters. The writing is simple and definitely way easier to read compared to the first book, and it’s in this simplicity that makes the message shine. War makes monsters of men. Is there ever any way for us to avoid this kind of war that ruins people? Perhaps.

I honestly had a hard time rating this at first because while I thought it was very good, I also felt that maybe I was giving it that rating because of the hype and the good reviews of all the people who has read this before and has read this with me. But now that it’s been more than a month since I finished it, I realized that this book deserves no less than my current rating. After all the tears and time I have invested in this series (I read this in the span of 3 years because I had to rest in-between the books!), I must say it is truly one of the best series for young adults out right now. Monsters of Men is an excellent ending to an excellent series and I am so, so glad that I was able to read this. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Coffeespoons
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac

Reviews of other Chaos Walking books:
# 0.5 The New World
# 1 The Knife Of Never Letting Go
# 2 The Ask and the Answer

Faves of TwentyEleven: The Random

I’m a few days late to this part of my Faves of TwentyEleven post — sorry! Christmas got me a little too busy, so yeah. Too much food and time with friends will do that do you. But anyway, I have a few more days left of 2011 (Can you believe it!) and so I still have time to do this. :)

Faves of TwentyEleven is hosted by Nomes of inkcrush. And in case you’re interested, here are my other Faves of TwentyEleven posts:

Day Four: The Random

Continue Reading →

The Ask and the Answer

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick NessThe Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Chaos Walking # 2
Publisher: Walker Books
Number of pages: 517
My copy: US paperback, bought from Fully Booked

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 alive? And who are the mysterious Answer?

And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

* * *

So it’s been a little over a year since I read The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first book in the Chaos Walking series. Having loved that book, it would have made sense if I immediately dived into the second one, especially since I had a copy. But here’s the thing I realized with the Patrick Ness books I’ve read so far: they’re all pretty emotional, the kind that makes you need some time and space in between his books to prepare yourself for another ride. Especially if you’re one who gets a bit attached to the characters, like me.

Spoilers for the first book inevitable at this point forward. And so now that a year has passed, I pick up The Ask and the Answer. The book picks up almost immediately where Knife left off: Todd wakes up and finds himself tied to a chair facing Mayor Prentiss, now President Prentiss, questioning him. Todd had only one concern in mind — where Viola was, and if she’s still alive, especially since he remembered carrying her almost-lifeless body towards what they thought was Haven. The “haven” that they expected is now New Prentisstown, with the Mayor as the new leader. But it seemed like the Mayor doesn’t want Todd dead. He spares his life, teams him up with his son Davy to do some work in New Prentisstown, promising Todd that Viola will live if he follows the rules. The Mayor suddenly doesn’t seem to be the person Todd believed he was…but can he be trusted?

In the other side of town, Viola wakes up, far from dead. She meets Mistress Coyle, one the best healers in Haven, and Viola finds out that the Mayor has locked all women in for reasons yet unknown. As Viola recovers, she becomes an apprentice healer, constantly worried about Todd and if he has survived whatever the Mayor had in store for them. But soon, Viola finds out that there’s more to Mistress Coyle than being a normal and best healer in New Prentisstown — and she needs Viola on her side.

Then the bombs start exploding.

The Ask and the Answer picks up the pace from the first book, dropping us straight into the conflict. Todd and Viola’s separation tears at them both, and while they don’t really know what to do or who to trust, they know they have to be with each other, no matter what. They both grow up lots in this installment, with all the politics and manipulation and desperation going on around them. This is also far darker than its predecessor, tackling themes such as torture, genocide and terrorism to name a few. This book had the same vibe I got from Mockingjay, with the violence unleashed in the pages…and this isn’t even war yet! It makes me wonder if the second book is as intense as I found the third Hunger Games book was, what more of Monsters of Men? I can’t imagine how dark that would be now.

This book blurs lines between the good and the bad guys, and truly, it’s hard to pick a side in the entire story. Should the end justify the means? Is terrorism the only way to achieve “peace”? Gray areas abound and the moral issues were tackled with the same detail as in Knife, but not too deep that it’s not so hard to understand. As if that’s not enough, Ness brings in another player into the field by the end of the novel, which I should have expected but took me by surprise.

My favorite character in this installment isn’t Todd or Viola, though, but Davy Prentiss. Davy, who only wanted to make his dad proud. Davy, who acts like a tough man but who’s really a boy. I loved how the relationship between Todd and Davy was developed, especially since I hardly saw it coming. It was easy to dismiss Davy as a villain especially after he shot Viola in the first book, but his evolution was a definite surprise. I am impressed at how Ness made him into a character that would earn the sympathy of the readers in the end.

Lately, I found myself balking whenever I see that a book I was about to start reading is more than 350 pages. With all the books in my TBR pile, I feel like I can’t invest that much time in a too thick book — you get what I mean? This book defied that though — it had 500+ pages but I hardly felt it. My friends, I think that is a good measure for a great book. :) While not as heart-wrenching as Knife (I admit that I’m still quite attached to that), The Ask and the Answer is a very good follow up in the trilogy. I am really looking forward to reading Monsters of Men now. Yes, I still need a breather before jumping into that, but I think I can promise that it won’t take another year before I crack my copy open. :)

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – September

Other reviews:
Persnickety Snark
The Book Smugglers
Book Harbinger

Required Reading: September

(I promise to write that book-related trip post soon; I just have to prepare the photos :D)

So, I was kind of doubtful that I would reach my August Required Reading goal, given that I was traipsing all over Europe at the second half of the month. But I guess I shouldn’t underestimate myself and long plane/train rides because surprises! I actually finished reading all the books I set to read in August. :) Unfortunately, no reviews up for them yet because I’m terribly behind. Eeep!

  1. Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto - I actually finished this weeks before I left. I wasn’t exactly a big fan of The Time Traveler’s Wife, so I was kind of wary of the story for this one. I liked the European setting a lot, though, even if I didn’t really get to visit any of them. :P
  2. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly – Oh, this book. I was intimidated by its 8o+ chapters, but it turned out to be a very quick read. Plus it made Paris come alive to me, and I couldn’t help but squeal a bit every time I see familiar places I read about in the book while we were touring the city. Bastille! Palais-Royal! Eee. :D
  3. No and Me by Delphine de Vigan – This was cute, but also not so much in a totally unexpected way. I think I understand what made people like this book so much, with its charm despite its sort of broken ending.

Like I said, never underestimate 11-13 hour plane and train rides. It gives you good reading time when you’re not sleeping. :D

Required Reading: SeptemberNow here we are on September. I’m back on night shift, but I don’t really know if that is helpful with my reading (July was awesome, though, so maybe?). I was thinking of a theme for this month yesterday and I honestly couldn’t come up with anything. I was just trying to remember the reading buddy things I’ve promised to do when I return, and that’s when a theme hit me. Kill [n] birds with one stone, right? Or something like that.

So September’s Required Reading theme: sequels/spin-offs!

I’m not a big fan of sequels, because they’re really a hit or miss, but I love spin-offs, especially for other characters in a book. :) The thing with me and sequels/second books/spin-offs is, I don’t really pick it up immediately after reading the first book because…well, I’m not sure, except maybe I didn’t want the story to end just yet. Haha. I figured it’s time to get myself reading those books I’ve put off long enough now, right?

So the list!

  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking # 2, the second book after The Knife of Never Letting Go)
  • The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta (spin-off to Saving Francesca)
  • The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (second book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series — took me long enough to finally decide to read this)

Just three books for now. I kind of need to take it easy since I’m still reeling from my trip. :) Thank goodness my job isn’t as demanding as some Network Engineer Jobs out there.

Joining this month’s challenge? Leave a link to your entry so I can list you here! There’s no need to follow my theme, just pick books from your shelf that you need to read or get out of your TBR and try to finish them within the month. :)

Happy September, everyone!

10 for 2010: Favorite Reads

And here is the final 10 for 2010 list for this year, and the hardest one at that. There has just been too many good books in this year that it’s so hard to pick just ten. But I have to choose ten…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have runner ups and honorable mentions. ;) It’s my list, I can do anything I want to. :P

So, the last 10 for 2010, here are 10 of my Favorite Reads in no particular order…and then some. :)

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen – How much do I love this book? I am very glad that I chose this book as my first classic read for this year. I love Anne Elliot, and I want to be her. I don’t have much point of comparison over other Austen books, but this one is really, really good, even better than P&P. :) I cannot recommend this one enough. :)

2. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – I fell in love with the Kate Daniels series this year (thanks again to Chachic and Michelle for pushing!), but among the four books out in the series, Magic Strikes is the best one so far. It’s got action, tension and all the yummy hotness of Kate and Curran in all of it. Plus the ending had me all smiling and giggly and that is always very, very good. :)

2. Feed by Mira Grant – This book wasn’t the one that got me started on zombies this year, but it was the zombie book I loved the most. :) This book had me from the cover, and then with the story. I loved how geeky this book is and how emotional it is at the end. I loved the characters, and I loved the theme of the story…and I just really loved every bit of this book! This is one of the books that I got in Kindle, then got in print because I want to have my own copy. I gave a copy away, then I gave one as a gift, and now I’m (sort of) giving this away, too. I love this book that much.

3. Happyface by Stephen Emond – This is one of the impulse buys that I never regretted. I wasn’t a fan of hardcovers, but I am glad I got this one the moment I saw it because there are no copies of this one here. This is one of my favorite contemporary YA reads of the year. Happyface is such a darling character, and you just can’t help but fall in love with him. The plot is simple, but it’s very surprising and heartwarming at the end. I wish there were more copies of Happyface here so more people can read it…but that’s why I’m giving one away, right? ;) Oh, and I still think I look like Gretchen. ;)

4. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley – This was another impulse buy, but I’ve been seeing this one way before I got it. I am glad I got it, too, because it has such a beautiful story. The story may sound a bit cheesy with all the beauty talk, but it doesn’t only just talk about inner beauty and self-esteem, but also complications of a family and dreams that never came true. Terra’s transformation was very inspiring, and the ending left me feeling very good about myself, and very beautiful. :) Truly a gem.

6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – I wasn’t planning to read this, and I stopped reading the start for a couple of times, but after I finished the first chapter, I got hooked. Before I Fall is a surprisingly good and powerful novel about life, death, friendship and the choices we make and how they affect people. I finished this book with a wistful smile on my face and tears in my eyes, thankful that I finally gave in and read it.

7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – This is one of the book that I know I would love, only because the people whose book tastes I trust loved this one, too. After reeling from The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I needed more dystopia to keep the high going, so I finally read this one. And I loved every bit of it. I know it gets better with the next two books, and I am very excited to read them. :D Soon.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – This book wouldn’t have made the list if I didn’t read it on time. If I read it in 2011, this would probably have made it in my 2011 list. :P I love the cover, and the story is just as good as the book. It’s not often you read a YA novel about a band, and it’s even rarer that you read a heroine who was deaf. It’s got diverse characters, a great story and a very rocking ending. :) A book that makes me reconsider my Top 10 is a book that deserves more attention. :D

9. Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – You know you really love a book when you re-read it and it still gives you the same feeling it did on the first read. You know you love a book when you actually re-read it in the first place, and within the same year, to boot! I re-read Fairy Tale Fail after I finished reading The Maze Runner, and I really needed a pick-me-up after. It definitely picked me up, and it made me wish to have my own Lucas all over again. :)

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – And like every Best of 2010 books out there, I must not forget about Anna and the French Kiss! This book was an absolutely fun read. After a series of not-so-stellar books, this one just kind of blew my mind. :) I realized a lot of things in this book, particularly: I still love contemporary YA the best, and you can tell a completely ordinary story in an extraordinary way. This is also one of the books that I got on Kindle first, then the hardcover when I found out it’s already available here. That much love, people. That much love. :)

Runners-Up:

  • Paper Towns by John Green – I finished the John Green trifecta this year, and out of all books, I have decided that I liked Paper Towns best. While An Abundance of Katherines was the funniest and happiest, I thought Paper Towns had the better plot and would fare better for a re-read. :) Plus Radar + Ben and the road trip? Priceless.
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – I wouldn’t have heard of this one if not for Pao and Chachic, and I am glad I got this one. Tall Story is a charming story about siblings, Filipino folklore and magic. This is a very heartwarming story, and I am glad this book is available internationally so more people can read it. If you haven’t read it, do include it in your 2011 reading list. You won’t regret it. :)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman – I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I hadn’t heard good things about it from my Goodreads friends. Perhaps my reaction to this was a bit similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go – I plunged into it ready to love it, and I did. It’s not a very cheerful book being dystopia, but it’s very good and it has a lot of potential for a re-read. :)
  • Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr – I read two of Sara Zarr’s books last year and I loved them, so when I saw she had a new book, I knew I had to read it. Once Was Lost was just as beautiful as her other books, but I think I like this one more because it tackled faith. I loved how simple Zarr’s prose was, and how she tackled sensitive issues with grace. If I may quote my review: “Once Was Lost makes you think, makes you ask, and in the end, makes you believe that no matter what the tragedy is, no matter how hard things are, there will always, always be hope.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I read this one fairly recently, and I really liked it. I don’t know if my moods influenced how much I liked it though…but like I said before: any book that has me smiling like an idiot at the last page deserves a recognition. :)

Honorable Mentions:

See, I told you it was too hard. I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you with too many books in this list! It’s just very, very hard to choose. Maybe next year I’ll be more critical, but I’m glad I read so many good books this year. Looking forward to what 2011 had to offer. :)

Now it’s your turn. What’s your top reads in 2010? :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters
10 Favorite Couples
10 Favorite Authors
10 Most Anticipated for 2011
10 Blogging and Reading Highlights

I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway! Get to know the awesomeness that is Feed by Mira Grant, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!