Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Ask and the Answer

Warning: This review doesn't have any spoilers for The Ask and The Answer, but it basically gives away the surprise ending of The Knife of Never Letting Go.

If you've never read either of the books in the Chaos Walking Trilogy, here's something that should whet your whistle, so to speak, and if you're in the same boat as me and think you might explode before the last book in the trilogy is published, hopefully this will hold you over for a while: "New World." This short story was published between The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer, but it's really Viola's backstory, so everyone can read it.

Ness, Patrick. The Ask and the Answer. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2009. Print. Chaos Walking 2.
[Book cover credit:]

Who needs a booktalk? As if "Welcome to New Prentisstown" from the last page of The Knife of Never Letting Go wasn't enough.

And that's exactly where The Ask and the Answer picks up. No recap, no explanations, nothing. Todd wakes up after carrying Viola right to Mayor Prentiss' feet and she's not there. He spends the rest of the book trying to find her.

Meanwhile, the Mayor, now President, is making sure that New Prentisstown in no way resembles the Haven it once was, and he tells Todd that if he helps, he'll get Viola back.

And Viola? The Mayor has plopped her down into a House of Healing full of women whose thoughts, unheard like those of all women on New World, still scream of how they'll regain control of their city.

Oh.My.Gosh. I finished this book a week ago, and I still feel like I haven't had enough time to really process it in order to write a review. There is just so much going on with Todd, with Viola, with Wilf(!), with the people of what used-to-be Haven, with Davy Prentiss (who you'll actually CARE about by the end), just so much going on.

It was practically impossible to put down.

Character development did not waste away in the face of SO MUCH plot either. Viola and Todd both have to really grow up in order to survive in New Prentisstown. Both of them are faced with decisions that they don't want to make, where neither option seems like the right one. You will forget, long before the really bad stuff happens, that this is a book about 13yr olds.

Todd especially, who has been told that his compliance will buy Viola's safety, does a lot of things he wouldn't normally do. The point that people do unthinkable things in the name of war is really driven home. However, Ness does not leave the reader under the impression that what one does while at war does not stay with you. Though Todd takes part in some pretty gruesome acts for a really noble reason, there are CONSEQUENCES. Otherwise known as Book 3, Monsters of Men.

Long story short, I had mixed feelings about The Knife of Never Letting Go, I became obsessed while reading The Ask and The Answer, and I might die waiting for Monsters of Men to finally be released in the US. In September 2010.

Oh, and for those of you who may be worried about reading The Ask and The Answer after crying uncontrollably while reading The Knife of Never Letting Go (I know I can't be the only one that did this...), don't be! While some important characters do die (they are at WAR people) none of their deaths turned me into a sobbing mess. Your mileage may vary.

Book One: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Book Source: I bought it because my library STILL doesn't have a copy and I just couldn't wait anymore.

1 comment:

Teresa Kravtin said...

I'm a big fan of this series, too. If you're on FaceBook, consider joining our discussion group. We'd love to have you. I try to keep up to date with series reviews, author events, and publication news. Excellent blog review.