Review:The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

22 Jul

Candlewick Press, 2009

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?
Part two of the literary sci-fi thriller follows a boy and a girl who are caught in a warring town where thoughts can be heard — and secrets are never safe.

From Candlewick Press website.

If youv’e read my review of the first book in Ness’ Chaos Walking triology, The Knife of Never Letting Go, then you’ll know how much I enjoyed it. Yeah, I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

But boy, did I love The Ask and The Answer! I mean I really, really loved it. Like, hug the book to my chest after I finished it kinda love. The action was great, the plot was great, the characters were great.

I could never figure out exactly why I wasn’t completely taken with The Knife of Never Letting Go, but after reading The Ask and The Answer, I think I know why: for the majority of the first book, there were only two characters, Todd anbd Viola. And while they did meet up with others, they were the main characters. I love Todd’s voice, but I think I kinda got bored with them running away, then running away and running some more.

In The Ask and The Answer there isn’t as much running away and a lot more characters. This added a richness that I didn’t feel in the first book. A lot of the new characters aren’t depicted as either good or bad. It’s hard for Todd and Viola to figure out who’s on their side. In fact there are times when they aren’t even sure who’s side they, themselves are on.

There is a switch in narrator in this one, back and forth from Todd and Viola. I’ve noticed this writing style being used more and more. What Ness does different,  however, is that he uses two different fonts: one for Todd and one for Viola. This helped me to keep straight who was telling the tale in each chapter and also, for some reason, added to the development of the characters.

Towards the end of the book, he does something wicked cool with the back and forth change of narrator. I thought it was brilliant and so fun to read.


The only bone I have to pick with Ness is the introduction of Lee. See, I am getting kinda tired of what seems to be the need to have a love triangle in dystopic YA novels. Lee’s a boy, he meets Viola, they connect……see where I’m going with this? Do we need another love triangle? I fear once book three hits there will be TeamTodd and TeamLee camps springing up everywhere. Or maybe Ness is just messing with us. Here’s hoping.


This is a large book at just over 500 pages, but it felt like I breezed through it. And now I need to read the third and final book, Monsters of Men. Now.

I asked for a review copy and Candlewick Press answered by send one.


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