We were in the square, in the square where I'd run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her - But there weren't no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men...
Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor's new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode...
"The Ask and the Answer" is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy.
So, I finished The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness a few days ago and I'm still reeling. If you haven't read the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, do that (at which point you will feel my pain/joy over that book) and come back. Ready, okay. Here's my thoughts on The Ask and the Answer.
The Ask and the Answer begins where it left off: with Todd in Haven/New Prentisstown. I was really worried that this book, considering it's the second book in the trilogy, would not be able to keep up the momentum the first book built up. Of course it was a little slow at the start, it had to be, as that's where the characters were at when we left them, but it kept up the tension and built the momentum back up to the point where I had to finish this book.
Throughout the book Ness uses Noise (the sound/feeling of other men's thoughts) and general sound. This was done so well that as I reader I could visualise and "hear" the sound. This was done especially well when the bombs starting going off in New Prentisstown. Having this audio element Ness was able to show not only the how far the away the bomb was, but also the sound and size of the explosion. It really packed a punch and created an impression on me as a reader to the danger these bombs posed.
The story itself was amazing and complicated and just so good. In manages to cover oppression (through the imprisoned Spackle), war, and segregation. For a lot of the book I thought there was a good side and a bad side, but towards the end I didn't know what to think. I still don't know what to think. I'm not sure if I trust either side. Both sides did terrible things in the name of progress and doing what they thought was right. Ness was truly able to show how messy war and how similar these two sides really are. Ness was also able to flesh out David (Davy) and create a strangely sympathetic character. Davy by all means should not be redeemable but he was and then Ness had to DO THE THING. I think, as sad as it is, I'm glad that Davy was not completely evil as, with war, it's more complicated than that.
I won't spoil the end of the book for anyone, but here was my reaction to the end of this book:
The Answer and the Answer raises the stakes from The Knife of Never Letting Go ten fold and shows a complicated story of the horrors of war and choosing between doing what is right and what is easy.
Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: email@example.com