...and on to the final installment of The Chaos Walking Trilogy. If you dare start the series, you will have no other choice than to finish it. With many other trilogies, the plot often fizzles out and loses steam and focus as it progresses. This is not the case here. In fact, the tension brews to the exploding point, almost to the extent that you can feel the damn book (or audio) vibrating in your hand.
Synopsis: So war it is. The situation in the New World has escalated to the point of no return, it seems. Mayor Prentiss has proven himself a tyrant, willing to kill anyone that gets in the way of his desire to rule the world. He does have a soft spot for Todd, though, in his yearning for a perfect son. As in Book Two, it is in Todd's voice that we get a glimpse into Prentiss's murderous tendencies that are masked by his smooth talk and mastery of mind control.
Mistress Coyle and her revolutionaries continue to practice acts of terrorism to make her mark and prevent Prentiss from rising to power. Viola, as well as a couple of newcomers from her homeland, are protected under her wing. It is in Viola's voice we understand that an opposition to a tyrannical leader is not always the better option.
A third voice is introduced in this book...that of a survivor of the Spackle genocide, #1017. The Spackle have their own grievances, including the treatment of their people and the invasion of their home. They will not go down without a fight.
Some tough decisions need to be made, forcing Todd and Viola to grow up overnight and become leaders. Who is the right person to follow - Prentiss or Coyle? Is it even possible that either of them will be an advocate for peace? Which side can really be trusted to keep their word? Is it better to kill thousands to save the one you love?
My thoughts: This journey exhausted and thrilled me. Because each book really just dangles at each conclusion, without a definitive break, it really is just one long story with never-ceasing action, maiming, murdering, double-crossing, and manipulation. There are times when I rolled my eyes at the hyperactivity (a little worried we'd lose our YA audience if we took a breather?), but I still loved this series.
Of all three books, this one was the heaviest in terms of moral issues and intensity. I loved the introduction of the third narrator, and his character development. I also enjoyed seeing both Todd and Viola mature in their leadership roles in the community. Did I think perhaps they were a little too mature for their 13 or 14 years? Realistically yes, but I was willing to suspend my belief because I liked them and believed in them.
Mayor Prentiss is a guy you just love to hate. (I can't wait to see who is cast as this character in the movie.) He is a complete, fully-developed narcissist that wants the world to bow at his feet. For a brief moment, I felt a tiny bit of sympathy for him when he got all man-crushy on Todd, but that didn't last long.
I wouldn't be right with myself if I didn't make a comment about my emotions at the end. First of all, I was ENRAGED (I sent Rhapsody Jill an e-mail with all kinds of bad words) at some really emotionally manipulative chain-yanking in a scene near the end. It cheapened things for me, and I was not happy. I was only sated by the fact that Ness did not take the easy road in his conclusion. No happily-ever-after with white horses and rainbows, and I was OK with that.
A word about the audio production: Brilliant. Our voice for Todd, Nick Podehl, was back again with a performance that held onto Todd's innocence and backwoods charm but had grown stronger and more sure of himself. Angela Dawe was the narrator for Viola, and I loved her work as well. She has a great cadence to her voice that was youthful but assured and natural. I've never listened to her before, but I noticed she narrated "Still Missing" by Chevy Stevens, so I'm going to try to get my hands on that. Rounding out our narrators is MacLeod Andrews as #1017. His voice was a bit stiff and robotic, but was a perfect depiction of a Spackle. This was most definitely a trifecta of narration.
4 out of 5 stars
Series as a whole: 4.5 out of 5 stars