The Chaos Walking trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion in this grueling but triumphant tale. Three armies stand poised for battle, one controlled by the murderous but charismatic Mayor; a second headed by the equally Machiavellian terrorist, Mistress Coyle; the third led by the Sky, leader of the indigenous telepathic race known as the Spackle. Meanwhile, a convoy of ships is approaching the planet, bringing still more human colonists, though it isn’t clear that there will be anything left to settle when they arrive. Todd and Viola, along with the Return, an embittered former Spackle slave, find themselves in positions of increasing power and are faced with a variety of complex and ambiguous moral decisions, any one of which may lead to wholesale destruction. Trying to overcome their anger, hatred, and fear, each must confront the reasons why “in a place of all this beauty and potential... we just repeat the same mistakes.” As in his preceding books, Ness offers incisive appraisals of violence, power, and human nature, and with the series complete, it’s clear that he has crafted one of the most important works of young adult science fiction in recent years. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)
As in his preceding books, Ness offers incisive appraisals of violence, power, and human nature, and with the series complete, it's clear that he has crafted one of the most important works of young adult science fiction in recent years.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[Ness's] rapid-fire litany of impossible choices makes for captivating thought fodder, and what has already been a potent display of the power of voice to drive, amplify, and transform a story gets a third, unexpected soloist. And in so doing he shows just how deep and complex, as well as how versatile, a symbolic and narrative device the concept of Noise can be. . . .This is science fiction at its best, and is a singular fusion of brutality and idealism that is, at last, perfectly human.
—Booklist (starred review)
This is a complex and engrossing work that series fans will devour.
—School Library Journal
With its dark tone, violence and readerly fanaticism the book belongs firmly beside Suzanne Collins's work.
—Wall Street Journal
Gr 9 Up—The first word of this conclusion to the trilogy is "war," and war between various factions takes up much of this book. The action begins immediately and is told from two and then three viewpoints with no backstory that might bring readers new to the series up to speed. Todd and Viola attempt to persuade Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle, respectively, that peace is the better path to the future, peace with one another and with the vast army of Spackles that looms above the valley. Unfortunately, the Mayor and Mistress only want peace that comes with victory for their faction. A scout ship arrives from the approaching convoy of colonists, changing the balance of power. The Mayor uses his "Noise," the ability that male humans and all of the Spackle have to communicate mentally, to control his army and to influence Todd. Mistress Coyle and the other mistresses shelter under the protection of the scout ship and work to cure the infection of the bands that threaten the lives of many of the women, including Viola. Ness distinguishes his various narrators by the use of different fonts, further distinguishing Todd with a select few words misspelled. This is a complex and engrossing work that series fans will devour but which may be impenetrable to those who haven't read the earlier volumes.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
The momentum of Ness's breakneck science-fiction trilogy slows noticeably in this voluminous conclusion that is told in three voices: Todd's, Viola's and native Spackle 1017's. At the end of Book Two, the two opposing human factions led by the Mayor and Mistress Coyle were at war with each other and the Spackle. Meanwhile, a new convoy of Viola's colony had arrived only to find themselves in the middle of a war zone. Book Three, replete with themes of war, colonialism, terrorism and redemption, laboriously details how the three groups negotiate an uneasy peace at great personal loss, including the deaths of more than a few major characters. Some 250 pages pass before the Mayor and the Mistress even meet. By then their story, along with Todd's and Viola's (who spend most of the book frustratingly apart), has become less compelling than that of the broken and beautifully characterized 1017, a Spackle who is fated to become the reluctant leader of his people. This is a case where half as long might have been twice as good. (map) (Science fiction. 14 & up)