Monsters of Men

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Monsters of Men
Monsters of Men.jpg
Front cover of first edition
AuthorPatrick Ness
CountryUK / America
SeriesChaos Walking
GenreYoung-adult science fiction novel
Publication date
  • 3 May 2010[1]
  • 28 September 2010 (US)
Media typePrint (hardcover & trade paper), audio CD[2]
Pages602 (first edition)
LC ClassPZ7.N43843 Mon 2010[3]
Preceded byThe Ask and the Answer 

Monsters of Men is a young-adult science fiction novel by Patrick Ness, published by Walker Books in May 2010. It is the third book of the Chaos Walking trilogy inaugurated two years earlier by The Knife of Never Letting Go. Walker's U.S. division Candlewick Press published hardcover and audiobook editions within the calendar year.[2][3]

Ness won the annual Carnegie Medal from the British librarians, recognising the year's best new book for children or young adults published in the U.K.[4][5][6][7]

The title is taken from previous dialogue in the series; "War makes monsters of men" is said in Knife, which both Todd and Viola later quote.[8]

Plot summary[edit]

An army of Spackle, the indigenous population of the planet, marches on New Prentisstown from one direction, and the forces of the Answer from the other. Mayor Prentiss has been freed by Todd to help defend the city, whilst Viola attempts to warn oncoming settlers.

The Mayor's army and Spackle army engage in a destructive battle. Meanwhile, Viola and Mistress Coyle confer with Bradley and Simone, the scout ship pilots; Coyle wants to use the ship's missiles to destroy the Mayor. However, the Mayor's army manages to push the Spackle army back into the forest. 1017 has made his way to the Spackle camp, now branded "The Return," He is the only surviving slave, and seeks revenge on Todd and the settlers.

The Spackle dam off the river to block water supply and attack the Mayor's camp. Coyle attempts to manipulate Viola to use the scout ship, and when Todd is in danger, she launches a missile that kills most Spackle warriors. The Return argues with the Sky, the leader of the Spackle, demanding more attacks. The Sky refuses, but reveals a captured, hibernating Ben, Todd's adoptive father. The Sky promises Ben to The Return if the two armies reach peace. The Spackle begin attacking the town at random. During a raid, Todd knocks the failing Mayor unconscious and takes over. The Mayor praises him for having such ability.

The Mayor's army without water, and the Answer without food, are forced into a peace talk. The two groups work together - the Mayor lures Spackle and the Answer provides bombs. Angry that the Mayor undermines her, Coyle sends a bomb into the Spackle stronghold. The Spackle respond with a message to send two people to meet the next morning.

Viola and Bradley are sent to negotiate with the Spackle. The Return attempts to murder Viola in revenge, but stops when he sees the ID band on her arm, sympathising. Although the peace talks are successful, the Spackle launch a surprise attack on the Mayor and Todd the next day. The Mayor, planning ahead, had already set up his artillery and soldiers. After killing the attacking Spackle, The Sky surrenders. The Return goes to kill Ben, angered by both the surrender and his inability to kill Viola. The Sky meets him there, and watches as the Return fails to murder Ben. Ben wakes.

During a speech, Mistress Coyle reveals a suicide bomb, intent on killing the Mayor. Todd inadvertently saves him. Later, Ben and the Return arrive. Todd, overwhelmed by happiness, rejoins Ben and leaves the Mayor's side. The settlers plan to settle peace immediately, leaving Todd and the Mayor alone. Angered by Todd's decision to leave his side, the Mayor steals the scout ship and Todd. The Mayor launches flammable fuel at the forest, killing many Spackle, including the Sky. He passes leadership to the Return.

The Mayor lands at the ocean and ties up Todd in a nearby church, while Viola rides in hopes of rescuing him. The Mayor is being driven mad by all of New World's Noise, a side-effect of his experiments. Todd escapes, and they climatically Noise-fight by the ocean. Viola arrives and the two quickly overpower the Mayor. Todd begins to force the Mayor into the ocean, but the Mayor, realising his immorality, walks into the ocean himself, and dies.

The Return arrives and mistakes Todd for the Mayor, shooting him in the chest. Todd dies, driving Viola to threaten shooting the Sky back. The Return accepts his death, but Ben suddenly swears he can hear Todd’s Noise return.

The Spackle attempt to cure Todd with their medicine. His Noise returns in bursts, on and off. Viola will not leave Todd's side until he wakes up. The Return apologises, but Viola does not forgive him, and continues to read Todd's mother's journal to him, hoping he will hear and come back. The epilogue cycles through Todd's experiences in the coma. He is entering his old memories, at his school, at Farbranch, but also human and Spackle memories from all over New World. He searches for Viola, unsure who she is, who he is. Every now and then, he hears abstracts from his mother's diary, and he begs Viola to keep calling for him. The novel ends with hope that he'll return, the last lines being "Keep calling for me Viola-, Cuz here I come."


Critical reception has been largely positive. The Bookseller said the novel was "breathtaking" and noted that it was "innovative, intense writing at its incendiary best". 3 Am Magazine praised Ness, compared him to Philip Pullman, Robert Cormier and Paul Zindel, and called the series "too good for the Young Adult strapline."[1] In review for the Daily Mail, Sally Morris called it a "suitably dramatic and powerful finale ... The ending is superbly well handled and Ness brings this original series to a close with the high-level tension and ambiguity he has maintained throughout." She recommended it for readers age 14 and up.[9]

Beside winning the 2011 Carnegie Medal, Monsters of Men made the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Monsters of Men". Walker Books. 3 May 2010. Retrieved 15 July 2012.. This presentation by the book publisher includes excerpts from book reviews.
  2. ^ a b Chaos Walking series listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 5 November 2012. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  3. ^ a b "Monsters of men" (first U.S. edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  4. ^ Carnegie Winner 2011. Archived 29 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Press Desk: 'Chaos' Reigns, Patrick Ness Wins ...". Press release 23 June 2011. CILIP. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Patrick Ness: CILIP Carnegie Medal winner 2011". Press release 23 June 2011. CILIP. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  7. ^ Pauli, Michelle (23 June 2011). "Patrick Ness accepts Carnegie medal with fierce defence of libraries". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  8. ^ Patrick Ness (3 August 2009). "Chaos Walking: Book Three - The Title Revealed". Diary: August 2009 Archives. Patrick Ness. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Children's Books" (reviews). Sally Morris. Mail Online. 21 May 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  10. ^ Pauli, Michelle (2011-03-04). "Patrick Ness's Monster of Men shortlisted for award". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-08-12.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
The Graveyard Book
Carnegie Medal recipient
Succeeded by
A Monster Calls