**Warning! If you haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go which is the first book in The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and it is a doozy. The story picks up right where it left off in The Knife of Never Letting Go with Todd and Viola arriving in Haven. The characters undergo some serious development in this installment and Patrick Ness blurs the lines between villains and heroes. Seriously, this book will make you question everything and there will be so many feelings. It’s taken me a while to even get into the mental headspace to write this review because of all of the mind games Ness has played with everyone in this book so I hope I can articulate everything as best as possible!
One of the aspects I enjoyed the most by far in this book is the dual narratives between Todd and Viola. In The Knife of Never Letting Go, Viola is a supporting character and we do not get to experience her inner thoughts and motivations firsthand. All of this changed in the second book and the result added so much more to the story. When Todd and Viola arrive in Haven, the Mayor is already in control and he has named himself President. He separates the males from the females so our two main characters have unique experiences on their own which provides a major contribution to the shaping of their characters. It also leaves the characters with nothing but their faith in each other while they’r ebeing manipulated by major players in the civil war they’ve found themselves involved in. Throughout the entire story I found myself really missing Manchee. Angharrad was pretty okay but that horse did not fill the void.
I am still amazed at how many issues Patrick Ness was able to cover in what for me was such a quick read. The Ask and the Answer touches upon war, terrorism, genocide, racism and feminism. The most intriguing topic which is what hooks the reader is the ongoing war because it leaves you with so many conflicting feelings and so many questions. Whenever there is a war it involves at least two sides who each believe that what they’re fighting for and the casualties they sustain during their pursuit is in the name of what’s right. But how can characters determine what’s right when both sides have done wrong? In this case, we have Todd working for the Mayor turned self-declared President and Viola aligning herself with the resistance, all the while attempting to maintain their loyalty to each other. There are so many life altering events that occur in this second installment that I’m eager to pick up the last book.
Final Thoughts: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness is a very emotionally heavy read. While the story is fast paced and the characters are compelling, the mind games that come along with war can be tiring, but I assure you it’s worth it. This second installment is high intensity and it tackles many important issues. Each of the main characters shine as they relay their experience on the opposing sides of the war. Lines will be blurred and feelings will be felt!
We were in the square, in the square where I’d run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her – But there weren’t no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men…
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. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…
“The Ask and the Answer” is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the “Chaos Walking” trilogy. (via Goodreads)