September 28th, 2010

This week we're featuring a full length review of the conclusion to the Chaos Walking Trilogy, Monsters of Men.

Monsters of Men, which concludes the Chaos Walking Trilogy, continues the gradual expansion of the readers comprehension in terms of both theme and scope, by introducing a third narrator. From a reader's perspective the series began by essentially being dropped into a half familiar, half foreign world, seen through a first person narrator, a boy on the cusp of manhood who assumed the reader was from his world. Todd's own knowledge of the world around him was both incomplete and incorrect. The experience is momentarily disorienting and then increasingly compelling, as we gain in comprehension through listening to Todd's voice. In the second book a second narrator, Viola, a key character in book one, comes into play. In Monsters of Men a third voice is added, that of The Return, a member of the planet's indigenous people, The Land.

This sense of expanding perspective is brilliantly handled by Ness, and perfectly compliments the culmination of powerful events which the book depicts. At the heart of this series is an exploration of two issues, the power and nature of the human will and the power and nature of privacy. These issues are explored both as a coming of age story and as a detailed science fiction novel. The power of will is handled in a manner reminiscent of that found in Wuthering Heights, in which Heathcliff's darker side involves his willful subordination of everyone around him with the exception of Catherine, while its bright side is found in his single minded determination to maintain his connection to Catherine, and to be reunited in their separate heaven.

In Monsters of Men this develpoing theme is powerfully realized. We find a dark Heathcliff in Mayor Prentiss  whose use of will to control others is increasingly refined and visible, but whose twisted tenderness for Todd, rather like Heathcliff's for Hareton Earnshaw, effects him unexpectedly.  The absolute bond between Todd and Viola, their one mutual certainty,  strongly echoes that of Heathcliff's and Catherine's, and is the engine of a great deal of compelling emotional exploration. It is also the focal point of Ness's secondary theme of privacy.

As Todd's noise is quieted, his bond to Viola is strained, as is his power. The broadcasting of thoughts, or Noise, initially presented as the curse of Men, is revealed as a source of power and intimacy, a blessing of this new world not a curse. The tension between choosing  a private bond over public welfare is shown to be a false paradigm hiding a more profound unity, a unity paralleled in the voice of the Land.   Though the Land is one voice, and which apparently has no privacy, it requires a source of will, a Sky. The role of the Sky is very like what Mayor Prentiss has in mind for himself, though in this case benign, and the Land's voice, apart from being fascinating in its own right, provides a marvelous counterpoint to the other narrations. Emotionally riveting, structurally complex, and brilliantly executed, here we have a story as profound as it is exciting.

Here they are! Our weekly picks for the two best: two hardcover, two paperback, and two children's books. The very best new arrivals to leap out of the box and onto our shelves this week. Call or email us if you want more information on any of these titles, or to have us hold you a copy. Or stop in and check them out in person. We'd love to see you. Thanks as always for sharing your reading with us!

 

At Home: A Short History of Private Life



At Home: A Short History of Private Life
By Bryson, Bill
2010-10 - Doubleday Books
9780767919388 - Hardcover   See Other Formats
List Price $28.95 - Your Price: $23.16


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Bryson's new book couldn't have chosen a more interesting topic, the history of private life. Wondering if people have always had one, or whether, like childhood, it is considered more of an invention? Crack the pages and find out! ...More

Washington: A Life

Washington: A Life
By Chernow, Ron
2010-10 - Penguin Press
9781594202667 - Hardcover   See Other Formats
List Price $40.00 - Your Price: $32.00


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Here we find a major release indeed, following Hamilton and Titan National Book Award winning biographer Ron Chernow has turned his attention to George Washington. ...More

Just Enough Jeeves: Right Ho, Jeeves; Joy in the Morning; Very Good, Jeeves

Just Enough Jeeves: Right Ho, Jeeves; Joy in the Morning; Very Good, Jeeves
By Wodehouse, P. G.
2010-10 - W. W. Norton & Company
9780393339437 - Paperback
List Price $18.95 - Your Price: $15.16


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For some reason no one has been able to explain tome Jeeves books had virtually disappeared as paperbacks. At last this grievous wrong has been righted with Just Enough Jeeves the perfect starter pack for anyone who hasn't treated themselves to the finest farce ever written. ...More

DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book

DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book
By DC, Comics
2010-10 - LB Kids
9780316019989 - Hardcover   See Other Formats
List Price $29.99 - Your Price: $23.99


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This amazing new pop-up book by Mathew Reinhart has been billed as the "ultimate" pop up book. We wondered what made it the ultimate pop-up and put the question to one of its rivals, Reinhart's classic pop-up Cinderella.

DDG: To what do you attribute DC Super Heroes being labeled the ultimate pop-up? These so called super heroes haven't been pushing the other pop-ups around after hours have they?
Cinderella: Not at all. They have been very polite, excellent neighbors. I think it stems more from Mathew's art continuing to grow over time.
DDG: I see. Thank you!
...More

I Didn't Do It

I Didn't Do It
By MacLachlan, Patricia
2010-10 - Katherine Tegen Books
9780061358333 - Hardcover   See Other Formats
List Price $16.99 - Your Price: $13.59


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Dog lovers will melt into instant puddles when they flip through the pages of this wonderful book of dog portraits brought to life with heart tugging illustrations and charming first person poems. The team which brought us Once I Ate A Pie has struck again. ...More

Three Little Kittens

Three Little Kittens
By Pinkney, Jerry
2010-09 - Dial Books
9780803735330 - Hardcover
List Price $16.99 - Your Price: $13.59


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Equal time here as Jerry Pinkney brings us this engaging rendition of the Three Little Kittens. This is Jerry's 100th picture book. Amazing. It is also a worthy follow up to his Caldecott Award winning The Lion and the Mouse ...More

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