Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Mean, Seriously, Could Patrick Ness Get Any More Brilliant?

(Image from Indiebound)

(Note: While this review will not contain spoilers for The Ask and The Answer, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from The Knife of Never Letting Go. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

"'But that makes you powerful, Todd Hewitt. In this world of numbness and information overload, the ability to feel, my boy, is a rare gift indeed'" (459).

The Ask and The Answer, the second book in Patrick Ness' brilliant Chaos Walking trilogy, begins right where the first one left off. Well, not right where it left off, but pretty close. After walking for miles, killing a fanatic preacher, battling a Spackle, and outrunning the sadistic mayor of Prentisstown, Todd and Viola finally stumble into Haven. Where the Mayor has taken the city. Todd vows to do anything - anything - to save the dying Viola, and the Mayor holds him to that promise. Before he knows it, he's doing manual labor beside hundreds of Spackle, with Davy Prentiss' gun pointed right at him. He can handle it, knowing that Viola's safe. Except, how does he know the Mayor's keeping his end of the bargain? How can he trust the most manipulative man on the planet? Especially when the Mayor's purposely keeping Viola away from him?

Viola's taken to a healing center, where her wounds are treated by the skillfull Mistress Coyle. The healer treats her well, but it's obvious she has ulterior motives. When she's slipped a secret note, Viola finally understands: Mistress Coyle leads a resistance group called The Answer. If Viola joins, she can help convince the people on her ship to join the fight against the tyrannical Mayor Prentiss. While Viola would never help the Mayor, the man does have one thing she wants - Todd. She won't do anything that would cause him harm. Besides, Mistress Coyle might be just as conniving as the man she's warring against.

With two powerful factions fighting for control of the town that was once Haven, Todd and Viola are stuck in the middle. All they want is peace, safety, but who can wrestle harmony out of the chaos around them? Mayor Prentiss, whose army has killed hundreds? Or Mistress Coyle, who's so power-hungry she'll use anyone to get what she wants? With all the violence and bloodshed, Viola can hear something changing in Todd's Noise - can she still trust him? Can he depend on her? How can they decide which side they're on when the world makes even less sense than usual?

Turns out, I was right to take a breather between The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer because, whoa, the latter starts intense and just never, ever lets up. Ness takes the world he introduced in the first book, adds about a million twists, complicating everything, then leaves us hanging. I tried, I really, really tried, to pick up another book before diving into the last book of the trilogy, but I couldn't. The second I put down The Ask and the Answer, I snatched up the final chapter (*sniff*) of the series. If I had any self-control at all, I'd wait a little so I can savor the finale. Yeah, so much for that. A hundred pages from now, I'll know exactly how it all turns out. I did mention I have no self-control ...

(Readalikes: The Knife of Never Letting Go and Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness)

Grade: A-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), violence, and some sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if I've been hiding under a rock and just peeped out because until last week I hadn't heard of Patrick Ness and now am seeing him everywhere! Just read the prequel short story The New World which has tempted me to take a look at the full series, so I skimmed your review to avoid any spoilers!

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