Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2) - a review

The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2) - Patrick Ness - 536 pages

I'm keeping this short so as to avoid spoilers.

Screw you, Patrick Ness. This was the last book I read before my birthday and I still don't feel as manly or as bad ass as Todd effing Hewitt. I'm still reeling over The Knife of Never Letting Go. I still can't get over Manchee. I still can't get over certain acts committed in the last half of the first book.

I'm not getting over this one any time soon either.

We join Todd and Viola exactly where we left off in the first book: in Haven with the mayor standing over them. Except it ain't Haven anymore. It's New Prentisstown and the Mayor has a plan. This time we see things from both Viola's perspective and Todd's. And they both have differing ideas as to what's going on.

This time things are different. It's more than an army marching towards world conquest. It's now an occupying force in the only city left on New World. It's now turned into... dare I use the words sectarian violence? I do. There are terrorists freedom fighters rebels dictators leaders opposing forces within New Prentisstown that are slugging it out for control. There are no good guys or bad guys here. There's just Todd and Viola stuck in the middle trying to determine the lesser of two evils.

There's Patrick Ness toying with our emotions every step of the way as we realize that he's in control; he doesn't mind killing characters. He keeps things real; he makes the violence and the evil believable. He doesn't split people into unrealistic factions based on personality types, he splits people up like how they already are: by ideology. He does all this and includes telepathic powers and keeps it real. That's talent.

There came a point in Ask when I realized New World wasn't a civilization anymore. It's when the former Mayor of New Prentisstown is about to be executed. I wanted him to die because he was a smug coward who surrendered; Todd wishes the same thing on him. That's when it hit me: justice on New World is getting killed for what you believe. If you don't stand up for your beliefs and die in the process then no one is going to like you very much. You're better off dead. That's a brigand. Not a civilization.

I'm half-inclined to hope that when Viola's people do arrive on the planet they wipeout everyone there. None of them are very much worth saving. But who am I to make that judgement call?

I've already got the next book lined up in my TBR pile. That's high praise from me as I never zip through trilogies this fast. I hope the next book ends with a silence and not a ka-BOOM, though. I can't take anymore "exploshuns".

Full Disclosure: I read this on my Kindle. I needed to read it right away. I could not wait a week.


  1. I'm so so happy that you like this series.
    The Mayor is - to me - just not redeemable but he's a hell of a villain.
    The Ask AND The Answer are both such brilliant concepts.
    And then there's Todd and Viola, just like you said, stuck right in the middle.

    I think Monsters of Men will shake you up quite a bit. But it is gooood.

    1. I'm holding off on the last one. I want to have time to read it all the way through without interruption. And since I return to work on Wednesday... it might be a month or so.

  2. Moral gray is the best - and hardest - to read about.

    1. Agreed. Halfway through I ended up changing my mind on Mistress Coyle.

    2. No way! THIS is why this needs to be a readalong. I can't stand not talking about this.

  3. *gulp*

    I've been meaning to return to where I left this before I moved, at page 20 I think, but...I keep putting it off. I mean, it's been 2 months and I'm still emotionally wreaked by the first book!

    However, your review (which I just skimmed, super paranoid of any hints of any more heartache in store for me...) has made me want to get this book on MY Kindle because I don't think I can wait until there is a convenient library...!!

  4. I plan on reading this series very soon! I've heard very good things about it, so I'm excited.


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