Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

Title:  The Ask and The Answer
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre:Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: December 2009
Book Length: 519
Stand alone or Series: Series (2nd Book in Chaos Walking Trilogy)
Favourite Quote:  "We are the choices we make.  And have to make.  We aren't anything else."
           
Possible Spoilers in Synopsis & My Thoughts if you have not read The Knife of Never Letting Go (book 1)


Synopsis (from the back of the book)
Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a deperately wounded Viola right into the hansd 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 alive?
And who are the mysterious Answer?
And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode...

My Thoughts
The Knife of Never Letting Go left us on a pretty huge cliffhanger!  What happens to Todd and Viola?  Well I grabbed the next book and it picks up where the first book left off in Haven.  President Prentiss, formerly known as Mayor Prentiss and his army take the surrendered town Haven and rename it New Prentisstown.

Todd and Viola are separated straight away.  Todd is imprisoned and made to work with Davy Prentiss, the President's son, guarding over a group of Spackle.  Viola is whisked away to a Healing house until her wounds mend.  The only assurance that Todd has about Viola being okay (and vice versa) is the word of President Prentiss, who is using his position to it's absolute advantage. 

This is again told in first person present tense but this time we have a chance to get to know Viola better as it jumps back and forth between Todd and her views.  From both POV it gives you the whole situation at hand.  The struggles Todd has to endure, as well as the forced path Viola takes to help both Todd and the town, will have them heading in opposite directions.  The question is, will they both still be able to trust and rely on eachother, with the choices that go against what they believe in?  Can they live with those decisions??

Todd has done a lot of maturing in this novel and it's hard to believe he is still only 13.  He is a strong and sympathetic character who I've really grown to love.  Viola has done a lot growing up too.  From the previous book to this one, she has gone from the seemingly vulnerable, untrusting girl to a courageous yet compassionate character.

The Ask and The Answer has many topics it covers, betrayal, courage, manipulation, power of knowledge, leadership and the side effects of so much control.  It also shows when those we love are threatened, we'll do whatever we're asked to ensure their safety.

While The Knife of Never Letting Go was mostly a physical struggle for the characters throughout the story, The Ask and The Answer is more of an emotional and psychological read.  Fantastic book.

Patrick Ness has written a short story set before The Knife of Never Letting Go.  The New World tells the story of Viola's arrival on Todd's home planet.  You can read it on Booktrust's website here, or open in PDF here.

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