This interesting book takes on many aspects of Mariology and its place in the modern Church. The book is not a co-authored project nor a book-length argument, but is rather a collection of essays and sermons treating Mary and the Church. Pope Benedict's writings take up the first half, actually a little more, and Balthasar's the second. (Benedict's preface to John Paul's encyclical on Mary is included. Mary: God's Yes to Man : Pope John Paul II Encyclical Letter : Mother of the Redeemer) As may be expected of such a collection where different pieces are composed for different audiences, some are more esoteric than others and may not hold much interest the casual reader.
Obviously both writers are close and careful reasoners, and for the most part the clarity of their examinations does not seem to get lost in translation. I was especially impressed, sometimes even moved, by these insights; despite its disjointedness, this mixed bag was probably a more valuable read to me than John Paul's book. Topics include aspects of Mary's character that are meant to be paradigmatic for the Church, the value of Marian devotions and some means of reconciling them with modern worship, and the Church's anthropological role in history. I especially liked the last piece on the catholicity of the Church.
My guess is that this will be pretty strong meat for many readers, and that Scott Hahn's Hail Holy Queen would probably serve better as an introduction or a leisurely read. Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God If the subject is already a favorite for you, by all means read on. Lots of good stuff here.