Book Review, Young Adult

BOOK REVIEW: The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness

– Short Review –

This book is a whirlwind – fast paced, gripping and building on the world that Ness so delicately nurtured in the first book ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’ also reviewed here by STORGY KIDS.

Todd’s world is changed forever when he makes a deal with the Devil Mayor Prentiss (President Prentiss) to save his friends life, he’s sent to work as a slave, manipulated into being a tool for his tyrannical reign – but something is stirring in the town…what will happen and who will be saved!

Other books you may like that share a common theme – The Extinction Trials (S.M.Wilson), The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne CollinsThe Maze Runner Series (James Dashner)

 

– Long Review –

Patrick Ness delivers a fabulous follow up to his ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go‘ ramping up the tension in a world where everyone knows what you are thinking and our main protagonists are still struggling to survive. The tension created within this book is palpable, it turns this book into a rampant, unrelenting adventure that takes the reader on a journey they will never forget with consequences that lead our beloved characters to the brink of death and back again…but what is going to be left of this world, the town and of our brave souls Todd and Viola.

The Ask and the Answer starts off where we left Todd; coming face to face with the mayor and Viola clinging to life after a gunshot wound inflicted by Davy the Mayors son. The Mayor is now called the President and with this name change comes a tyrannical reign of terror, deception and fear. The townsfolk of Haven rolled over in surrender of the approaching army from Prentisstown and are now ruled with an iron fist, submitting to his invasion and coming to terms with his demands on the city. The townsfolk are unhappy at being pawns in the Presidents ongoing takeover but don’t have the strength to fight, becoming pawns in his devilish scheme. But something is rising that will change everything forever.

The President appears to be playing Todd off against his love and desire of Viola, ensnaring Todd in his masterplan that Ness does well to keep a tight lid on throughout the book, with us only finding out his reasoning in the cliffhanger left at the end of the book.

Todd is sent to work with Davy (the Presidents son) the man who shot Viola. Todd fights every urge he has to destroy Davy for his part in this whole sorry affair, sometimes this urge spilling over into acts of violence, but will his rage get the better of him? Ness delicately weaves this story into an unrelenting assault on your senses – splicing in elements of Stockholm Syndrome (feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor) effortlessly, creating a deception that lingers on every page. The mind games the President plays with both Viola and Todd are a joy to behold and take this whole series to a new unprecedented level for a young adult book.

‘It’s not that you should never love something so much it can control you.
It’s that you need to love something that much so you can never be controlled.’

Ness delves deeper into this rich world creating a tapestry of delight that keeps on giving, forging a world that the reader is fully immersed and committed to journeying in and we are led like a bull with a ring through its nose wherever Ness would lead us.

The Ask and the Answer delves deeper into the lives of the Spackle, giving the reader more information about the Spackle War which ravaged the planet many moons before. The Spackle were the planets indigenous species, hunted and killed during the war, their population dwindled and sightings became sparse, that is until Todd finds out one of his jobs is looking after the enslaved Spackle population, a secret that Haven have kept hidden but is now out in the open. After the war, the townsfolk forced these captive indervidules to build Haven up from the ashes left behind, but now the town is fixed they are being kept as servants and slaves…in their hundreds.

I could go on more but I don’t want to ruin this for those out there wanting to take this journey, the book is frantic and wonderful, twists and turns, deceit and intrigue with set pieces that are incredible. There is something for everyone in this series and it’s no surprise these books are getting the Hollywood makeover.

The Chaos Walking Trilogy is a series of books I would highly recommend, especially these stunning new editions from Walker books. The themes, writing and story are otherworldly, I haven’t felt this excited about a trilogy of Young Adults books for a long time…trust me, you need these in your life. The magic of the books are that they transcend the genre of YA and are extremely enjoyable for all you adults out there who like a damn good story!

The Ask and the Answer left me with many unanswered questions, but Ness masterfully brings the book to a dramatic cliff hanger, that leaves you longing to reach out and start the next instalment, where we will hopefully find the answers!

The Ask and the Answer (the second book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy) is published by Walker Books and the new anniversary edition is available to purchase here.

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Patrick Ness

Patrick-Ness

I’m Patrick Ness. I claim three states in America as my home (as Americans are wont to do): I was born in Virginia, my first memories are Hawaiian, and I went to junior high and high school in Washington. Then I lived in California for college (at USC) and moved to the United Kingdom in 1999, where I’ve lived (mostly in London) ever since.

I’ve written nine books: 2 novels for adults (The Crash of Hennington and The Crane Wife), 1 short story collection for adults (Topics About Which I Know Nothing) and 6 novels for young adults (The Knife of Never Letting GoThe Ask and the AnswerMonsters of MenA Monster CallsMore Than This and The Rest of Us Just Live Here).

For these books, I’ve won the Carnegie Medal twice, the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Red House Book Award, the Jugendliteratur Preis, the UKLA Award, the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the fabulous, fabulous, fabulous Jim Kay also won the Greenaway for his illustrations in A Monster Calls (so buy that version, would you?).

I write screenplays as well, including for the movie version of A Monster Calls starring Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones, out January 2017.

I love the Decemberists, Peter Carey and A&W Cream Soda. I dislike onions. Intensely.
(From Patrick Ness Website – view here)

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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