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The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking) Hardcover – 4 May 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Walker; First Edition edition (4 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1406310263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406310269
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 22.3 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"* "Ness is a young writer of exciting quality and unpredictability." The Times" --The Times

Review

"Ness is a young writer of exciting quality and unpredictability." (The Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By debbie8355 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 May 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was one sequel I just had to read after the outstanding 'Knife of Never Letting Go' and it didn't disappoint in any way. It's a fabulous book.
This story is all about Todd and Viola who find themselves on opposing sides of a power struggle between the new mayor, now self proclaimed president and head of the 'Ask', in what was the town of Haven and the 'Answer' a group of female healers and freedom fighters. Todd finds himself part of the 'Ask' alongside his former enemy Davy and Viola is part of the 'Answer'.
This is a superbly atmospheric book which centres on the town of Haven which is now chillingly renamed New Prentisstown after the new mayor siezes power.
This book delves into topics of ethnic cleansing, female emancipation, torture and terrorism in an enthralling alien world where the 'noise' of animal and male thought can be heard which creates compelling situations and storylines. It is a brilliantly written, intelligent, gripping page turner. The new president is a truly terrifying, manipulative villian.
The alien native Spackle are central to this story and lead to an amazing cliff hanger. Very highly recommended and I will be definitely reading the third in the series...

UPDATE

There is now a short prequel story about Viola, by Patrick Ness, available to read online. Please see the comments section of this review for the link (the Amazon filters aren't allowing the link to be posted in the main body of my review).
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Format: Hardcover
The second in this trilogy, Chaos Walking, continues the adventures of Todd, but this isn't only a young persons book by any means. With its dark and unsettling storyline, its all-too-real human conflicts and (we hope) resolutions, The Ask and the Answer certainly asks difficult questions about authority, complaisance and consequences of actions. Sometimes our own answers are not what we would like to think they would be. Set in a bleak, violent and all too plausible future, it doesn't leave the reader with much hope, but certainly with an anxiety to read the third and final part as soon as possible.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me tell you about how I had my life ruined by aliens. The Knife of Never Letting Go was a great book. I loved it, and I've been recommending it like crazy. But The Ask and the Answer completely blows its predecessor out of the water. So much happens in such a (relatively) short book, it's a wonder people's heads don't explode while they're reading it. I loved it, and before writing this review I was going to just give it a 4 stars/Essential rating, but now I've decided to go with All Time Favourite. Because my life is ruined and I am crying.

So yes, the aliens. The Spackle absolutely broke my heart. I hate Tatum for not warning me, because she knows how I feel about these things (Spartacus has broken me). The Spackle have been oppressed since the war ended, first by the citizens of Haven who treated them as little more than slaves, and then under the rule of Mayor Prentiss, who went the whole hog and started tagging them like cattle and making them poo in a hole in the ground. These intelligent life forms were completely degraded, and it totally broke my heart. Not gonna lie, I'm crying while I write this. Their parts in The Ask and the Answer are the most prominent to me, and it's absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. Team Spackle FTW, everyone else can leave.

""We can fight," Davy says. "We proved that. And instead you got us babysitting animals that are already beat."
The Mayor considers us for a moment, tho I don't know how or when Davy turned him and me into an us. "If you think they're already beaten, David," he finally says, "then you know very little about the Spackle.""

Todd drove me a little crazy in this book. I love him, I really do, but his decisions in The Ask and the Answer broke me.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I didn't enjoy it as much as The Knife of Never Letting Go, I found that this novel was powerful, deeply moving and (at times) utterly heartbreaking. Although the novel is fairly easy to read, it explores some very complex ethical themes and does so without spoon-feeding answers to the reader, leading them to make up their own minds.

By putting Todd and Viola on opposite sides of a civil war, Ness allows the reader to see both sides of the conflict and understand that there are no good guys and bad guys. While Mayor Prentiss is undeniably evil, the casual disregard of human life held by the Answer is also horrific, leading the reader to wonder if they are really what is best for Haven.

However, I didn't feel that the novel was structured as efficiently as its prequel. The Knife of Never Letting Go was always moving - a continuous journey as Todd and Viola travelled together and gradually pieced together the mystery of what happened to the Prentisstown women. While never boring, less happened in this story. It was more about the gradual building of tension that lead to the spark of Civil War. I also didn't think that the flips in narrative were very effective as they often repeated the same events from two different perspectives. The narrative voices also weren't different enough as Todd and Viola's voices were very similar, sometimes leaving me confused as to who was speaking.

Yet, the characterisation in the novel was still very strong. Todd's actions in the novel were often morally dubious and very difficult to justify, yet I could understand why he did the horrible things he did (even though I didn't agree with them). Viola is, however, by far my favourite character as she Throughout the story, she is strong, resilient and determined.
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