“The Ask and the Answer” by Patrick Ness


“We are the choices we make. And have to make. We aren’t anything else.”

The Ask and the Answer is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy.

As soon as I finished The Knife of Never Letting Go, I ran to buy The Ask and the Answer. I just had to get it, because everyone told me it was even better than the first. On some points, it was actually better. It was even more intense and frustrating and smart than the first one.

Warning : there will be spoilers of the previous book in this review.

In this novel, we find Todd and Viola again a bit after where we left them, Viola dying in Todd’s arms and him begging the Mayor to save her. Now they’re separated. Todd is being kept prisoner, away from her, not knowing if she still lives, while the Mayor is slowly taking his place as the tyrant he is, killing, torturing and scaring the people. Controlling them.

As I said earlier, this novel was as smart and gripping as the first one, only with less mystery, but even more intense, and so much more frustrating. It actually made me think of Prodigy, the second novel in the Legend series, because of how much Todd and Viola being apart frustrated me, the same way Day and June frustrated me.

The story is told with both Viola’s and Todd’s points of view, and unlike in many YA books I’ve read, the multiple point of view was a success : Todd and Viola are two different characters with two different ways of thinking and I could easily tell them apart. Having them separated through most of the book showed the reader how much they love each other, how much they need each other, because they only have each other at the end. I was really touched by their relationship and even though there’s still nothing more than the suggestion of romance, I feel like this one of the strongest couples I have ever read about in YA.

“You notice that he does not ask, Where am I?” says the Mayor’s voice, moving out there, somewhere. “His first words are, Where is she? And his Noise says the same. Interesting.”

This sequel is more focused on politics : a war is preparing. It’s coming, one way or another. I thought the way Patrick Ness presented things felt… real. I know there’s a limit to realism in fantasy/science-fiction, but I liked that there was no real good decision. There were two camps forming, anyone could see that, but it was not clear who was right or wrong. Everything is complicated for Todd and Viola, there’s no right decision to make, and their confusion is very understandable.

(Doesn’t all this sound a lot like “Prodigy”?)

“If you ever see a war,” she says, not looking up from her clipboard, “you’ll learn that war only destroys. No one escapes from a war. No one. Not even the survivors.”

There were crazy character developments in this one. Some I expected, some I didn’t. I, to my surprise, got attached to Davy Prentiss, and felt deeply poor Todd’s miseries. Todd becomes more and more interesting during the series; he’s the typical feeling hero you read about in children’s books, but not arrogant or even sure of himself at all. He’s got weaknesses all too clear and makes bad decisions he comes to regret pretty quickly. I missed those kinds of heroes, you don’t see much of them in YA.

“In this world of numbness and information overload, the ability to feel, my boy, is a rare gift indeed.”

There were some crazy plot twists I’ll admit I didn’t see coming. The storyline lacked the mystery it had in The Knife Of Never Letting Go, though, and maybe that’s why I didn’t like it as much as I liked the first one.

To sum up, if you liked the first book, you shouldn’t hesitate before picking this one up, because it’s almost as good. The characters became worth reading about, and even though there were some repetitions, I couldn’t put the book down.

Rating : 18.5/20


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