I ride after him, gun up, but not shooting, just watching and feeling-
Feeling the thrill of it-
Cuz that’s it-
That’s the nasty, nasty secret of war-
When yer winning-
When yer winning, it’s effing thrilling-
That quote, Todd speaking, is one of the reasons that I can’t get enough of this series. There is a willingness to get to the ugly truth of humanity here. And there is ugliness to spare on New World. An ugliness that has been threatening to wipe out the hope and future of its people throughout the first two books. Ugliness , otherwise known as the Mayor of New Prentisstown. Or, Mr. President, if you’re nasty.
We start the third book seconds after the second one left off. The war is about to begin. Not just between The Ask and The Answer as we thought. No, the Spackle have mobilized too. And with the return of 1017 into the fold (The Spackle that Todd helped escape in the previous book) they are majorly pissed. In fact, they are so pissed, that they pull out all the weapons they’ve been secretly working on for the past decade or so. Weapons like an acid fire boomerang thing that is devastatingly accurate. So, yeah, things aren’t looking good.
Essentially, this is a war that no one can win. It will lead to the annihilation of some or all. This is what Todd and Viola had been hoping to prevent and it is them that can stop it (because, you know, everyone else is more interested in blowing stuff up). I hesitate to say it is their destiny, because that makes it seem like there is a higher power meddling in here – and there is not, but their lives have been leading up to this point. Their experiences and their choices to never stop fighting back against the Mayor and tyranny has led them directly to this point. And they shine. Not in that infallible way that storybook heroes tend to shine, but in a flawed, confused way, that has them desperately clawing their way to victory.
Ness also manages to take this final book in new directions. We’ve gotten used to the double narration of Viola and Todd. This time he adds the voice of the Spackle, 1017, in particular. It was fascinating to learn about the lives and culture of The Spackle, who call themselves The Land. In fact, this made me wonder if Ness was borrowing from the Inuit, whose name for themselves (If I remember correctly) means The People. Anyhow, an excellent addition that added a fresh perspective to the story.
There are several surprises included here and a pretty shocking conclusion that I absolutely loved. If I had one complaint it was that I was subjected to too much Mayor Vs. Todd “I’m a gonna kill you if you touch Viola.” Yes, Todd, we know. But even that storyline was wrapped up satisfyingly in the end. And there were some super neat parallels between the Mayor and Todd and The Sky and 1017 (the Sky is the leader of the Spackle).
An excellent conclusion! Can’t wait to read whatever it is Ness writes next.
Book Source = ARC provided by publisher.