Sunday, 10 July 2011

Books I’m Reading – Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness

“I think it could be the way forward for all of us,”… If we can all learn to speak this way, then there won’t be any more division… That’s the secret of this planet, Todd. Communication, real and open, so we can finally understand each other.
– Extract from Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness
I’ve just finished the remarkable finale to the Chaos Walking trilogy, Monsters of Men. I have to say that Patrick’s work is some of the most original fiction I’ve read in a long time. His main characters,  Todd and Viola, are so well drawn that you feel you actually know them by the end. 

Todd’s world is one where men’s noise, their thoughts, can be heard by everyone else. Just think about that for a moment what that would be like, a life where nothing is really ever private. The women by contrast, are silent, their inner dialogue locked safely away inside their heads. But this noise isn’t restricted to just the men and on this world you can hear the thoughts of the creatures around you. Some of Patrick’s most heart wrenching moments deals with this bond with the animals, such as Todd’s dog Manchee in the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, and in subsequent books, with his horse Angharrad. Their is a clarity of emotion there that sometimes bites deeper than any human dialogue could ever hope to. 
Another excellent innovation, is to use different fonts in different sizes to convey thoughts. You really need to pick up a copy to see how this approach really helps to convey the idea of telepathy. In terms of presentation of a concept, it just works.
Monsters of Men throws the characters into a world descending into war, and in the struggle to maintain their humanity in the face of brutality, they must ultimately remember who they really are. A tale for our times.
If you haven’t read this series, I strongly suggest that you do so. Highly recommended.

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