Courtney Johnston's Reviews > The Ask and the Answer

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jan 26, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: own, fiction
Read from July 23 to 25, 2010

I read 'The Knife of Never Letting Go', the first book in Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy, in one breathless weekend, and repeated the feat with 'The Ask and the Answer'.

'The Knife of Never Letting Go' is a book of discovery - of a new world (a planet only settled within living memory) a new trouble (men's relentless Noise, the ceaseless broadcasting of their every thought, and women's lack of it) and two new people, the central characters, Todd and Viola.

'The Ask and the Answer' gives greater depth to the world and the troubles sketched out in the first book. Todd and Viola are separated, on opposite sides of a horrific conflict; the theme of the book might be that war makes people - even good people, even people you want to love and trust - do terrible, terrible things.

While the surprise of Ness's narrative voice has settled in by the time you get to the second book, it still gives the book an astounding depth. It is unusual to understand more than one perspective in a YA book; Ness gives us at least four - Todd, Viola, and the leaders of the two opposing forces, the horrifying Mayor Prentiss of the first book, and the ruthless, steely Mistress Coyle we meet now. There are other dystopian series out there - The Hunger Games naturally spring to mind - but this is the first that for me rivals Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials moral weight and thoughtfulness.

Despite being a book of hardship, horror and tragedy, 'The Ask and the Answer' contains a few merciful spots of warmth and gentleness. One is the transformation that slowly and unspectacularly takes place within Mayor Prentiss's son Davy. Another is the quiet friendship between Todd and his horse Angaharrad - a mirror to Manchee in the first book.

In good second-book tradition, 'The Ask and the Answer' starts with one climax and ends with another. Along the way, Todd and Viola finish growing up, and move into active roles in the adult world. In the third book, they'll face the consequences of their choices. As we're reminded throughout this book, our choices are what shape us. I can't wait.
1 like · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Ask and the Answer.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Mia (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mia Judkins I can't *wait* to get in to this. I am still calling "The Knife of Never Letting Go" my favourite book, so bring on the next one!

back to top