The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking) Hardcover – 4 May 2009
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Top customer reviews
The Ask and The Answer is a fantastic continuation of Todd and Viola’s story. I don’t want to say too much about it because although I’m aware that this is an ‘old’ series, I’m also aware that many regular readers of my blog haven’t started this series yet. (They totally should).
I really enjoyed how The Ask and The Answer used Viola’s perspective so much. This doesn’t always work for me, but it really did in this book. I loved experiencing Viola’s point of view. They both had distinct voices too. I was never confused about who was narrating. (It helps that the font changes too). Hearing from both perspectives really enriched the story for me. Patrick Ness is a master at creating characters. His villains are particularly exceptional.
I wasn’t sure where the plot of this book was going to go. I wasn’t sure whose side I should be on. There’s so much muddy area around who is good and bad and I’m still loving being confused by it. It’s an incredibly clever move on Patrick Ness’ part! I won’t say anything more but express how much I’m looking forward to Monsters of Men! I’m just glad I decided to power through this series this month!
I won't go into the plot, because I think it's best to go into the book without knowing that much of what happens - as there is very much an "anything could happen" feel as you're reading it.
Firstly, it should be no surprise that this book focuses mainly on the characters of Todd and Viola. What comes as a welcome surprise is that they each contribute to the narrative, for much of the book doing so in alternating chapters. Having said I wouldn't reveal anything of the plot, I'll let one small thing out, which is that for a lot of the book we see them separated from each other. They continue to be excellent and thoroughly three-dimensional characters.
Davy Prentiss features more in this book than the last one, and becomes a really interesting character - more and more so as the book goes on. But one character comes very close to stealing the whole show, however, and that character is (of course), Major Prentiss (now President Prentiss), who keeps the reader guessing just as much as Todd does as to what he's up to.
As antagonists go, Major Prentiss is very much the opposite of the obvious moustache-twirling villain that most writers go for. What makes him fascinating is his sheer inscrutableness, combined with how he is able to get everyone, even the reader at times, wondering if - no matter how many promises he breaks or unspeakable things he orders to be done for the good of the town - if this time he really means what he says - if this time he really could be the solution.
The book deals with some really heavy issues and goes to some seriously dark places, but it's both a novel that an adult would regard as uncompromising, and a novel that is suitable for the teenage audience it's primarily aimed at. The ending is tense, shocking and absolutely amazing.
The ending returns to the thriller form that the first book achieved so well.
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...
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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