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The Ask and the Answer – by Patrick Ness

November 22, 2011

The Ask and the AnswerOh dear. I have about six more books I’ve told myself I have to get through before I can read the third book in this trilogy, but it is going to be tough. At first, I was just relieved to finally be reading this one, and then about halfway through, I realized it would probably end with another cliffhanger and I’d be in the same position I was before. This is the sort of problem you love to have, you know? At least I do. The Ask and the Answer is the second book in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy, so if you haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go, stop here and go check out my review of that. This review will contain spoilers for the first book. There’s really no way around it. You have been warned.

This book starts out just about where the last book left off, with Todd and Viola being captured by Mayor Prentiss. They are immediately separated and the Mayor does his best to use them against each other as he takes over control of Haven. Todd is forced to work for the Mayor, and Viola is put under the care of a healer named Mistress Coyle, who is developing plans to combat the new regime.

For the first time, we get chapters from Viola’s point of view as well as Todd’s, which is necessary for the narrative and also gives us a better sense of her character. There is constant tension in this story, as Todd and Viola struggle to figure out what’s right and who they can trust, and as they desperately try to find each other again. The strength of their need for each other is so clear and heart-wrenching, and it feels entirely natural. The Ask and the Answer is just as brilliant and powerful as the first book. It is surprising, heartbreaking, and beautiful and the third volume is sure to be even more so.

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