Review: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Thursday, January 10, 2013 9:00 AM
Title: The Ask and the Answer
Author: Patrick Ness
Published: May 4, 2009
Publisher: Candlewick
Series: Chaos Walking #2
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian, Science Fiction
Pages: 519
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for The Knife of Never Letting Go*
“To live is to fight, to preserve life is to fight everything that man stands for.”
― Patrick Ness, The Ask and the Answer

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor's new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode...(Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Patrick Ness, you are a genius. I'm indebted to you for writing such a fantastic series, one of my new favorites. After reading The Knife of Never Letting Go, I thought it would be near to impossible for Ness to top that. I was wrong. The Ask and the Answer was just as phenomenal as the first book, if not better. I was on the edge of my seat the entire book, rip roaring through the pages in order to find out what happened next. The Chaos Walking series is action packed, but it also carries a lot of emotion. As I was reading this, I often felt like there was a hand gripping my heart, wringing it dry. It was that heartrending and emotional.

The Ask and the Answer was written in an experimental style just like the first. But once again, I barely noticed any grammatical errors. Fragmented sentences and incomplete thoughts were not going to decrease my enjoyment of such a wonderful read. If anything, it made the story more authentic, seeing as Todd is illiterate. And in a society where Noise is ever present, formulating a complete thought is going to be difficult, if not impossible. Ness's writing style is so unique and refreshingly different. I love how he expertly throws in twists and turns. Just when you think things can't get any worse, shit hits the fan, and you're caught in a downward, crazy spiral of events.

As for the characters in The Ask and the Answer, I loved/hated them. They make you cry, laugh, hurl expletives at them, hoping they'll listen even though they're fictional. Ness's character development is so persuasive, so unexpected, you find yourself with mixed feelings for every character. That's the beauty of Ness's writing. There is no clear villain and no clear hero. Todd may seem like the chosen hero, but he is just as flawed and messed up as his enemies. With the Chaos Walking series, nothing is simple, even if it seems to be. Values aren't neatly categorized as black and white. There are so many shades of gray that are constantly in flux, always changing. I found this very realistic. In war, both sides are going to believe they are in the right, but how do you know the difference between right and wrong? What if you're just trading one tyrant for another? The Ask and the Answer brings up some core issues, and it forces you to think.

As usual, Ness included some darker parts. He absolutely kills me with some of his scenes. But I love books that make me feel, and The Ask and the Answer does just that. Even after I finished this book, I carried those emotions with me for awhile, and I'm sure I will never forget this book. It's definitely a memorable read and I cannot wait to finish the series with Monsters of Men.


  1. I read The Knife of Never Letting Go a few weeks ago, and instantly bought the rest of the trilogy on my kindle(which was easy since they were on sale), but I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. I really liked all the things you mentioned about character development and the writing in The Knife of Never Letting Go, so I'm glad that they're still prominent in the sequel.

    1. Yes, I was so happy that the sequel lived up to the standards of the first book. That doesn't happen often in series. I can't wait to read the final book! Thanks for stopping by! :D

  2. Is it weird to start getting teary reading your review and remembering everything that happened? Yes? Thought so. Really, though, Patrick Ness manages to evoke so much feeling that I don't think I'll ever NOT get emotional. Chaos Walking is definitely one of my favorite series and I'll look forward to your review of Monsters of Men.

    1. Not weird at all, Steph! Ness is just that awesome of a writer that he can make us feel so much emotion while reading his books! I am definitely going to be super emotional after finishing this series. I will be both happy and devastated. :D


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