Amy Reads Books

Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking)

The Ask and the Answer  - Patrick Ness SPOILERS if you haven't read the first part of this series Now, The Knife of Never Letting Go wasn’t exactly an easy read, but The Ask & The Answer is pretty much in its own league. I really liked it, but I can’t say that reading it was always an enjoyable experience.This second part of the Chaos Walking trilogy deals with life in New Prentisstown, which is what Haven-the place that Todd and Viola were convinced they would be safe living in-has become. President/Mayor Prentiss sets to work with his new plan for Haven pretty swiftly. Splitting men, women and Spackle up (apparently as punishment for not giving him a war). Restrictions continue, and eventually an opposing group (or terrorist cell, depending on how you look at it) is set up. The Answer. A wholly female group which wants to reclaim the town from the Mayor, as women suffer the most violence in this strange new order, run by (the fascinating) Mistress Coyle.This latter idea is what makes the whole novel so discomfiting. Ness really does seem to question what is right and wrong in times as desperate as the ones faced by the people in New Prentisstown. One of the ways he does this-and for necessity-is by having both Todd and Viola have a narrative voice. So you see events from both sides; which means that as the reader you generally have a bigger grasp of the truth than the characters-but not much.Speaking of characters, Todd and Viola are still really good protagonists. They’re human, they make mistakes but they’re care for one another is really remarkable. Mayor/President Prentiss is perhaps one of the most hideous characters I’ve come across in a novel, his creepy ability to control people and have them believe that what he’s doing is for their own good is a little frightening-because you can almost imagine it happening. Mistress Coyle, is equally fascinating. She seems to have a more defined sense of right and wrong; but there are times when as a reader you sit and think ‘What are you doing that for?!” and there are also times when you wonder if she is just as power-hungry and manipulative as Prentiss.Reading this book was a roller coaster, I even cried towards the end. If you’re a reader who thinks all Young Adult fiction is about sparkly vampires then I really, really recommend this series. It’s pretty astonishing. I’m just praying that Monsters of Men isn’t an anti-climax.