The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

The Ask and0763644900.01._SX140_SY225_SCLZZZZZZZ_ The Answer

Chaos Walking: Book Two

by Patrick Ness

Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

I read the first book in this series, The Knife of Never Letting Go,  in January but did not feel competent enough to write a review.  Now I wish I had, I also wish I had read that book again before reading this one.  That said I think the second book of the series is even stronger that the first.


In first book we meet Todd and Viola who are running from and fighting against the forces of Prentisstown.  It is a fast and furious novel with a cliffhanger of an ending.  The Ask and The Answer takes up just were the first book leaves off.

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. From the  jacket flap.

I do not want to tell too much of the story, because to say anything other than the story continues with Mayor Prentiss, and that there is a force fighting against him,  would give too much away.  Just know that this novel touches on many timely issues.  It is a study of racism and prejudice.  It is a study of trust and love.  But, for me,  it is a mainly a study of war, from every side.  Ness touches on all the rationalizations of war, all the reasoning behind terrorism and torture,  in a way that is honest and extremely direct.  Bad things happen, good people do bad things, and every possible behavior is explained and excused by logical sounding arguments.  Except that it isn’t.

“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.  You accept things that would appall you at any other time  because life has temporarily lost all meaning.” From page 102.

That is one of the best thoughts about war I have ever read.  I highly recommend this book. I think young adults and adults should read this series. Then they should talk about it, together if possible.

Here is another thought.

War makes monsters of men.

There is more, the ending is another cliffhanger and has left me waiting excitedly for the third book in this series.  Patrick Ness has a fine web site.  It can be found here.

Other reviews:

Bart’s Bookshelf

books i done read

Jenny’s Books

Persnickety Snark

things mean a lot

Wands and Worlds


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11 Comments

Filed under SciFi, SciFi Challenge, Young Adult

11 responses to “The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

  1. Did you hear that Monsters of Men is actually the title of the third book? I love this series SO much. And I agree that this is even stronger than the first book.

    • Monsters of Men is the title mentioned on Ness’s website. He also says Amazon is offering pre-orders months in advance. I liked “Knife” alot but “The Aska and The Answer” floored me.

  2. I’ve seen the reviews around for this series, and it has grabbed my attention. Those passages you shared about war are amazing. It is so hard to summarize really great books, especially ones in a series. You’ve done an excellent job with this one!

  3. I keep saying that I’m going to read this series. I have a ton of books in my reading pile, so I may just wait until Christmas break. Glad you enjoyed book two.

  4. Brrr, I got chills reading this book – I’m glad you liked it as much as I did! I am hoping that my kindly sister, who will be in England in May, will bring me back a copy of the third book so I won’t have to wait for its US release.

    • Yes, this book gave me chills and a desire to tell many people to read it! I’m sure your sister will be glad to pick up a copy of the third Chaos Walking book, and there is always bribery. Cookies or chocolate, maybe?

  5. Thanks for linking to my review. This is such a great book, I’ve rarely read anything as powerful as it.

  6. Pingback: The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness | Iris on Books

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