Patrick Ness – The Ask and the Answer
33. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (2009)
Chaos Walking, Book 2
Read my review of book:
1. The Knife of Never Letting Go
Length: 520 pages
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Started: 24 February 2011
Finished: 26 February 2011
Where did it come from? Bought at Borders.
Why do I have it? I was delaying reading the first one, since I knew that I wouldn’t be clearing from my TBR pile so much as adding to it, because I knew I’d finish the first book and then have to go and acquire the rest of the series. I solved that problem by preemptively adding book 2 to the TBR pile. :)
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 19 November 2010.
How do you pick your
allegiance when you can’t trust
those on either side?
Summary: **Warning: Here be some major spoilers for the end of The Knife of Never Letting Go; read on at your own risk.** Todd and Viola, on the run from the Prentisstown army, have finally made it to Haven… but they weren’t the first ones there, and now it’s not Haven, it’s New Prentisstown. Todd and Viola are separated – he to a shabby locked room in the top of the cathedral tower, and she to the healers on the newly-established women’s side of town. The Mayor (now styling himself the President) swears that all he wants is peace, and for Todd and Viola to trust him and work with him. As long as he can threaten the safety of the other, they’ll each cooperate, but trust will take longer to come by… especially when a radical opposition force starts detonating bombs around the town.
Review: My review for The Ask and the Answer boils down to one line: It’s just as good – if not even a smidgey bit better – than The Knife of Never Letting Go.
So, if you haven’t read TKoNLG, then a) what are you waiting for? It’s fantastic!, and b) No, seriously, go read it. If you have read TKoNLG, then most likely you’re already diving after TAatA without stopping to read my review of it first.
Some particular things I loved about this book: I loved the addition of Viola as a narrator; and that we get to see her blind spots and misapprehensions and to contrast them to Todd’s. I love that this book has a message, and something to say that’s relevant to the way the world is today, but that it gets that message across to a young adult audience without dumbing it down its complexities and grey areas, and without having to shout “There are parallels here! See? Do you get it?!?” I love that this book took one of the nastiest characters from the first book and completely turned him around and made me love him without me realizing that’s what it was doing. And most of all, I love that this story is so insanely compelling that for the last 2/3s of the book I was glued to the pages, barely breathing, barely even thinking anything besides a constant litany of “Oh no. No. No no no.” (Patrick Ness is not a nice man, either to his characters, or to his readers who care about those characters.)
The only thing I didn’t love was how easily Todd got played by people more devious than himself… and not just once, but time after time after time. I mean, yes, that’s who he is, and I suppose he hasn’t had the upbringing on a diet of fiction to be able to recognize a classic slimy don’t-trust-’em villian when he meets one, but: really. Eventually something has to sink in. (So I guess my internal litany was more of a “Oh no. No. No no no. ….for real, again? Oh no no no.”)
But regardless, this book as a whole was just great; not exactly something I could call a fun read (“No no nonooo!”) but a fast, compelling, and fascinating read for all that, somehow managing to tell a complete story while still leaving things on the brink of a giant cliffhanger. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Just fantastic; everyone, especially those who like dystopian sci-fi, should give this series a try (but don’t even think about starting with the second book.)
Other Reviews: I’m going to be lazy again and just direct you to the bazillion reviews of this book on the book blog search engine. But hey, it’s not really laziness, it’s efficiency, so that I can be done with this review and reading Monsters of Men all the sooner!
First Line: “Your Noise reveals you, Todd Hewitt.”
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