Selena's Reviews > The Ask and the Answer

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
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's review
Jan 05, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010, embraceinnerchild
Recommended to Selena by: Nymeth
Read from January 10 to 15, 2010

It begins with the same sentence that The Knife of Never Letting Go ends with. “The End.”

Since giving away any plot points would ruin any chance at experiencing this book at its best, I’m going to only speak toward my feelings and reactions towards Patrick’s writing. If they don’t convince you to start reading the Chaos Walking Trilogy, nothing will.

The Ask and the Answer throws many new challenges at both Viola and Todd. And in these new situations, the path isn’t always clear; the lines between right and wrong are blurred. More so than The Knife of Never Letting Go, the second book in the series tests Viola and Todd’s knowledge and trust of people – as well as their character. That’s what made this book more compelling for me than its predecessor.

As someone significantly older than the target audience for this book, I was really pleased to see all of the “life lessons” that Ness tried to teach through his narrative. He introduced younger audiences to both the good and the bad about politics, war, slavery, violent operatives and human behaviour (namely manipulation and torture). It is by no means an easy book to tackle but I think anyone reading it, whether in its target age group or not will really be able to open their eyes to both sides of the issue.

This novel was paced a lot slower than The Knife of Letting Go even though it had three times as many plot points. Many of the negative reviews for the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy cited its overly fast pace as one of the top reasons. The second book is much slower and really allows for a lot of character development to happen.

Ness is a master at what he does. Both of the main characters do very questionable things – but I never lost sympathy with them. Often, I thought to myself that I would make the exact same choice were I put in their situation. Another great thing about The Ask and the Answer is the way in which we learn information from characters. Things are so very subtle, they’re barely hinted at sometimes – but they can be key to understanding an upcoming plot point or the motivations of a character. I know that all authors strive to write in such a way where they show rather than telling but Ness has nearly perfected it.

The Ask and the Answer won the Costa Book Award Nominee for Children’s (2009).
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