The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Published: August 10th, 2010 (Candlewick)
Series: Chaos Walking, #2
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
Note: this is not the first book in a series, and can therefore contain (minor) spoilers for the previous book(s) in the series. Reading of this review is at your own risk.
Reaching the end of their flight in THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, Todd and Viola did not find healing and hope in Haven. They found instead their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss, waiting to welcome them to New Prentisstown. There they are forced into separate lives: Todd to prison, and Viola to a house of healing where her wounds are treated. Soon Viola is swept into the ruthless activities of the Answer, while Todd faces impossible choices when forced to join the mayor’s oppressive new regime. In alternating narratives the two struggle to reconcile their own dubious actions with their deepest beliefs. Torn by confusion and compromise, suspicion and betrayal, can their trust in each other possibly survive?
Where The Knife of Never Letting Go sucked me into the story, The Ask and the Answer made me almost desperate to just find out what was going to happen. The combination of the writing style, the progression of the plot and the alternating point of view had me on the edge of my seat. This is what I would call an example of an ultimate pageturner!
Where do I even start? I loved this book. I loved how the beginning immediately set a fast pace for the entire story. The writing style is just as different and distinct as it is in the first book, although I felt like it had evolved a bit - from thoughts pouring out of Todd's head onto the pages, I felt like his thoughts weren't as scattered as they were in The Knife of Never Letting Go, which had me reading even quicker.
Another thing I absolutely adored: the insight we get in the characters. We do not only see how Todd and Viola develop during the story, but we see what happens to everyone around them. The characters are fully developed, each with their own traits and everyone has a reason why they became this way. There's a bit of the mystery around them left, even though part of it is revealed, there's enough to keep you guessing and understand the characters at the same time. Everyone has inhuman choices to make in order to survive, and while the story of course focuses on Todd and Viola, the characters around them are not forgotten.
I also want to applaud Ness' ability to make me feel sorry for Davy Prentiss. For me, he was my second most hated character from the first installment (guess who was number one), but in this book, I began to see his point of view, to understand why he did what he did. It didn't make it right, but it made me sympathetic towards him as a character - something I thought was impossible.
I can go on and on about what I love about this book, but I'll just sum it up in one paragraph for you: In this excellent sequel to an already amazing first book, Ness takes his Chaos Walking trilogy to the next level. Filled with twists and turns, The Ask and the Answer does not suffer from sequel let-down, providing us with a thrilling follow-up that shows us the rest of Todd and Viola's story. A high-intensity, action packed, fast paced and heart wrenching book that I would recommend to anyone (but make sure to read book 1 first, because the sequel picks up immediately after it ends).
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