NaBloPoMo # 19: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

SPOILER ALERT. Do not read this review if you haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go – the first book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy – since there will be spoilers.


I simply loved The Knife of Never Letting Go which left me rather breathless and which was a truly unputdownable book. I loved the speed with which it moved and I was looking much forward to read the sequel. The difficult Book Two. And sadly I was rather disappointed.

We begin the story exactly where Book One ended. Viola has been shot and is carried away by Mayor Prentiss’ men, and Todd is brought to an office of the Mayor where he is interrogated and beaten up. Only thing on Todd’s mind is where is Viola, is she dead or alive? He does not receive any answers and is instead being locked up in the cathedral tower. Mayor Prentiss of Todd’s old town which he ran from in Book One, has taken over all of New World and has proclaimed himself President. Peaceful times are over, and while it all looks good on the surface, not all are happy with the new self-proclaimed President and his new rules and regulations. Anxiety and anger is brewing beneath the surface.

Todd is kept a prisoner, but is also being sent to work on different projects with the President’s son Davy, while Viola is being hospitalized in a so called healing house, where only women work. This particular house is being run by the strict Mistress Coyle, who takes a special interest in Viola. Viola’s only thought is where is Todd, is he dead or alive.

Side by side the story unfolds told in part by Todd, part by Viola. Days become weeks, weeks become months, and Todd and Viola move in very different directions, both not really knowing what the other is doing. One thing they know though is, that they somehow need each other. But as the days, weeks and months go, it becomes harder and harder for them to re-connect.

I didn’t feel the fast pace of the first book in this book at all and Todd and Viola’s stories simply did not grab me. I found the dialogues to be very long and long parts of the book bored me. The character development of all characters is well done though, and the friendships developing between unlike parties were also very well thought out. There is discussion material enough in this book for any YA reader (and adult reader as well) to last many hours (father/son relationships, friendship, love, war, segregation because of sex or color of skin and much more) and in the back of my mind it might have been laid on too thick in places. But then again, I am an adult reader and this book is aimed at a younger targetgroup. I am happy I read this book. It wasn’t THAT bad. And the end holds promise of a great Book Three, which I am certain I will read.

The Ask and the Answer cannot really be read as a stand alone book. You need to read The Knife of Never Letting Go first. Otherwise this book will not make much sense.

This book is read as a part of the YA Dystopian Reading Challenge hosted by Bart’s Bookshelf.

This is the 19th post in the NaBloPoMo-challenge. See my page here.