From School Library 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
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*Starred Review* Ness, a forceful writer who chews through ideas at a blistering clip, takes on war, the heftiest of human follies, in the conclusion to his Chaos Walking trilogy. The genocidal tyrant Mayor Prentiss leads an army on one side, the terrorist healer Mistress Coyle heads a band of revolutionaries on another, and a massive legion of native Spackle threatens from a third. All three sides see only the complete annihilation of the others as the sole option for victory and survival, and they might be right, no matter how Todd and Viola use their formidable wills to advance peace as an influx of new colonists nears. It’s a thick book, approaching Russian-novel territory, but it rarely feels bloated; and readers invested in the story will likely concede that Ness has earned the space. His 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 narrative device like Noise can be. For all the huge themes mauling at each other, though, it’s the characters that ultimately stand out in this final act—the connections that bind them and change them and ruin them and redeem them. This is science fiction at its best, and is a singular fusion of brutality and idealism that is, at last, perfectly human. Grades 9-12. --Ian Chipman