Elizabeth K.'s Reviews > The Ask and the Answer

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
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Nov 08, 09

bookshelves: 2009-new-reads
Read in November, 2009

This is the second in a trilogy, and in some ways, it feels like that middle bridge book. Interesting things happen, but they are mostly interesting because they build upon things you already care about from the first book, and it seems like some really exciting stuff is going to happen in the next book. More accurately, I would probably give this book three stars, and the series so far overall four stars.

Quickie summary: colonization on another planet, in that colony way where some things are more high-tech, and others are less. The most distinguishing feature of this planet is that its various inhabitants communicate telepathically, and when humans arrive, the men are affected by this while the women are immune. The hook is that it's not just telepathy as we usually see it, but the men's thoughts -- all their thoughts -- become audible. Wait, I guess that's not telepathy because it really is audible, you don't just hear it in your mind, but whatever. Todd, a native of the colony, and Viola, whose ship from Earth crashed on the planet, continue their struggle against a crazy fascist dictator guy who is on the verge of conquering the entire planet in large part because he alone of the men is seemingly able to control the broadcasting of his own thoughts.

This is one of those books where I thought the author was setting us up for some, eh, I guess stereotypical stuff (for Melody, who already read this -- I was worried about the horse, and also Lee) but then didn't go there.

One weird peeve, the name of the trilogy is Chaos Walking, and as of yet, that isn't really a phrase that you would particularly associate with the story, other than things are chaotic, and there is walking. I think series should stick with names that relate in some demonstrable way to the content of the books. I blame His Dark Materials, now everyone has to have a title that is brooding, yet doesn't mean a lot when you think about it. Now, The Lord of the Rings on the other hand, there is a series title that gets right to the crux of the thing.

Overall, I recommend this to any YA fans, and I will also note this is a lot more science fiction-y than I will usually read, so if you are not a particular SF fan, don't let that put you off. Definitely to be read in order.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Nancy But the phrase "Chaos Walking" comes from the first book, when it's explained that a man who can't filter his noise is just "chaos walking". Does that make it better for you, especially in light of how vital controlling Noise can be?


Elizabeth K. Not really ... my problem with it is that it doesn't have any particular meaning when you take it out of context. A person wouldn't pick it up in a bookstore and be able to get any feel for the thing from the title of the trilogy.


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