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The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

The Ask and the Answer

by Patrick Ness

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Chaos Walking (2)

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The second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy involves less action and more political and subversive maneuvering with Todd and Viola caught in the middle. Less action didn't make it any less tense. I felt deeply for these characters and the dark holes of thought and emotion they plummeted into, so much so that at one point the series of events brought me to such a state of anxiety I had to put my book down for a few hours, just to breathe and relax before going on.

Ness asks some really interesting questions about responsibility, leadership, and war and its effect on soldiers and people. These are deep, complicated questions with often no good answers. At many points the question of right and wrong gets tossed right out the window, because there are no good answers, only an increasing cycles of violence from which it is nearly impossible to extricate oneself from.

As with The Knife of Letting Go, the book ends on a cliffhanger. Fortunately, I have the third and final book, Monsters of Men, already at home and I look forward to reading it with anxious anticipation. ( )
1 vote andreablythe | Apr 21, 2015 |
I am still enjoying the Chaos Walking trilogy, and while the second book, The Ask & The Answer, wasn’t as action packed as the first, it was still a totally absorbing read. This middle book appears to be acting more like a bridge between the two books, keeping the reader updated on where each character is and where there allegiance lies. Of course the ending of this book seems to have changed everything and I am looking forward to the action and intensity of the final volume.

The split narrative worked well, jumping as it does between Todd and Viola, as they spend most of the book apart. The storyline has changed as well. No longer are we thinking about two kids trying save themselves from a tyrant. In this book it appears these two kids are simple pawns being played against each other while the whole planet has become involved in a war that will likely change it’s future dramatically. But both Todd and Viola are evolving and by the end of the book even as we are left in a precarious position, there are hints that both have definitive roles to play in the final outcome.

Patrick Ness has build a world that comes alive on the pages. His descriptive writing is visual and strong so you can smell the smells, feel the weather and admire the scenery. I am thoroughly captivated by this series and it won’t be long before I lose myself in the final book. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Apr 20, 2015 |
If you have not read Book 1, this review will contain spoilers.

Todd and Viola have made it to Haven, but it is no Haven. The Mayor of Prentissville had made there ahead of them. Separated and not knowing if the other is alive, each does their best to survive and make sure the other one also survives. People around them manipulate them and it is impossible to know who they can trust. Bad decisions are made by both due to misinformation and the influence of others.

This is told alternately by Todd and Viola. Todd's continue in his rather uneducated manner, words are spelled the way they are pronounced. Viola's is educated with proper spelling. This switch in narrators gives a more complete picture of the events as they progress. For a while they are on opposite sides. Todd with the 'government' and Viola with the terrorists.

Mayor Prentiss takes his leadership style from the third reich, separating 'undesirables' and assigning people numbers by branding them. As he moves to total control and the terrorists move to stop him, Todd and Viola end up caught in the middle, trying to protect each other and stop the total destruction both groups seem bent on.

I would recommend reading these books in order, they are more like one big book divided into 3 parts than three separate books. Also the writing in getting better as the story progresses. The characters are becoming more real and flawed as we go along. You know, or rather hope, that Todd and Viola survive, but at times it seems like that is impossible. The enjoyment in in watching them grow, the mistakes they make and figuring out how to get out of the way of destruction. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Feb 14, 2015 |
This book is one of those you point to when someone tries to tell you that YA literature is trivial and should not be something adults read. "The Ask and Answer" deals with more difficult topics then many so-called adult novels I have read and does so in a way that will make you truly contemplate the challenging subject matter.

Many people have said that the characters are unlikable, but I disagree. I find myself empathizing with the characters in spite of their faults and decisions. Todd and Viola are faced with complicated choices and I thoroughly enjoyed the shades of grey within this novel.

There are a few sticking points I have problems with such as the insistence on Todd's innocence even after the murder of the Spakle in book 1 and his actions in this book.

Overall, I believe Patrick Ness's follow-up to [b:The Knife of Never Letting Go|2118745|The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)|Patrick Ness|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1277071696s/2118745.jpg|2124180] is even more powerful than the first and am excited to see where the third and final installment of the story will go.
( )
  luminescent_bookworm | Jan 27, 2015 |
Spoilers ahead if you haven't read The Knife of Never Letting Go or The Ask and the Answer

Description: 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?

Thoughts: You saw that spoiler warning up there, right? Ok, you were warned.

WHAT THE HELL? Knowing that there were at least 2 more books in the series when I finished The Knife of Never Letting Go, I wasn't expecting happily ever after, ESPECIALLY with the cliffhanger ending of that book. What I wasn't expecting was a book that basically destroyed everything. I mean everything. Just BLAM BLAM BLAM, and that's not even getting to the Answer's bombing campaign.

I was unhappy but accepting the things that Todd was doing for the Mayor when he thought he was doing it to save Viola. It was terrible and disgusting that he would make himself complicit, but most people who make themselves complicit ARE doing it to protect those they love. What I couldn't, and still can't, accept was that he kept on making himself complicit, in worse and worse activities, after he knew she was out of the town. He kept saying he would die rather than help the Mayor but he just kept on helping. I know he's little more than a child, but it didn't sit right with me.

And seriously, how gullible can these two kids be? Why in the world do they trust anyone other than each other when EVERY person obviously has their own agenda? It was written pretty plainly in everyone's actions but Todd and Viola just keep letting their guard down. It's WAR, people. People go crazy in war.

And the ending. Damn. Like there needed to be another facet in all this drama. Just let the poor Spackle take half the world and leave each other alone. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES does Mayor Prentiss need to be released to massacre them.

Speaking of Mayor Prentiss. This whole thing about Todd not being able to kill making him the better/stronger person? It's bullshit. Who is the better man, the one who regrets killing a very bad person in order to save thousands of people or the one who is complicit in the enslavement, torture, and killing of thousands of Spackle, women, and men but doesn't actually kill anyone? Um, the first thank you very much. Obviously, I don't condone killing, but when you are thrown into the middle of a war and you have the chance to end that by killing this terrible person who caused it all... you f-ing kill him. He just shot his son in front of you! Bullet in brain. WHY IS THAT SO HARD?

end spoilers

But damn it, I've got to know how it ends. I think Patrick Ness has run off the rails here, but I need to see the train wreck with my own eyes. So obviously he's doing something right.

A related note: All these books about children/teens in war and strife are very interesting, but there is a flaw. As in most fantasy/sci-fi, these huge, epic plots always revolve around these kids. I would like to see a fantasy/scifi war story about the random kid down the street who will never come face to face with the powers-that-be but still has an epic story of his own because he/she is living and fighting a war that doesn't really have anything to do with him/her but is destroying life as they know it anyway. I mean, that's the reality that children face in war every day. They are rarely, if ever, in the middle of it but it sweeps them away with everything else. Why isn't anyone telling THAT story?

Rating: 3.2

Liked: 3
Plot: 3
Characterization: 3.5
Writing: 3.5

http://www.librarything.com/topic/149560#3913234 ( )
  leahbird | Jan 17, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick Nessprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dawe, AngelaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podehl, NickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Battle not with monsters lest you become a monster and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you. Friedrich Nietzsche
For Patrick Gale
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"Your Noise reveals you, Todd Hewitt."
We are the choices we make.
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Alternate chapters follow teenagers Todd and Viola, who become separated as the Mayor's oppressive new regime takes power in New Prentisstown, a space colony where residents can hear each other's thoughts.

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Candlewick Press

2 editions of this book were published by Candlewick Press.

Editions: 0763644900, 076364837X

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