Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: The Ask and the Answer

The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, book 2)
By Patrick Ness, read by Angela Dawe and Nick Podehl
Published 2010 by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

WARNING: There may be spoilers for book one this review. If you'd like to read my review of the first title, go here.

Todd and Viola have made it out of the forest, but they don't find the safe town they imagined. Instead, it seems the danger has followed them and soon, they find themselves torn apart by Mayor Prentiss. Soon, Viola's other ships will land, and this fact launches the start of a war between The Ask and The Answer. Can Todd and Viola save each other again?

OMG, these books. These are DIFFICULT books. I just want to say that again. There are a lot of horrible/trigger-y things going on and these books are intense and unrelenting. However, I wouldn't change them at all. Much of my praise for the first book is carried over to this second entry, though I will admit I had a hard time getting into it at first. I almost think these books need to be all read together, in a binge weekend so that one can stay completely absorbed in this incredible and disturbing landscape. I should have started the third as soon as I finished the second, but I didn't, so it will probably be the same slow start for me as this was. But I digress. In this second entry, Ness tears our two main characters apart, forcing us to watch them struggle independently while trying desperately to be reunited. I really liked the chance to hear Viola's own voice this time around - she obviously has a very different perspective on things than Todd and provides an excellent contrast to him. Additionally, Ness continues to provide greater background information in this book, now relating the story of the Answer, a resistance movement mostly composed of women. I liked the parallel storylines that develop between the re-emergence of the Answer and Mayor Prentiss' response, the Ask. Additionally, Ness continues to develop his characters in complex ways - both Todd and Viola spend a good deal of the novel in angst, torn on what decisions to make and how best to survive with as much of themselves in tact. This book is easily as complicated and twisting as the first and I think this is one of the strongest series I've read recently. Once again, the audio version was incredibly well-done, both narrators easily able to populate the strange and horrible world that Ness has created. I absolutely cannot wait to read (well, listen to) the final book in the series; I think Ness is an incredibly gifted author and I look forward to future books from him.

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