The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

38805386Lynn: We left Todd Hewitt and Viola Eade in a breathless cliff-hanger at the end of The Knife of Never Letting Go. It has been a long year of waiting! The second volume, The Ask and the Answer (Candlewick, Sept. 2009), picks right up from that point. Todd and Viola have run right into the arms of their enemy. Mayor Prentice has taken Haven with nary a shot being fired and the sanctuary the teens sought has turned into brutal captivity. I’ve been trying to figure out how to summarize the plot of book two without spoiling any of the surprises and I’ve decided it isn’t really possible. I’ll just say this book is every bit as suspenseful as the first. At a hefty 519 pages, it still reads fast, partly because the pace is utterly break-neck and partly because once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down! The GPC rating (gasps per chapter) is as high in this book as it was in the first and a lot of the fun is falling into those plot ambushes.

Ness does more interesting things with the Noise and explores some intriguing themes amidst all the action. Is surrender to tyrants the “practical” thing to do? Should you compromise your principals for a greater good? Is it right to sacrifice a few lives in order to save many? As much as I enjoyed the first book, I think I liked this one even better. Twists and turns abound, the political and battlefield maneuvers were fascinating and the introduction of more complex personalities added a lot of interest for me. And yes, there is another cliff-hanger ending – one that is even more suspenseful than the first. ACK! I am ready to start a petition to Candlewick to move up publication on the third volume as I don’t think I can wait another year!

Cindy: “I have two maxims that I believe, dear girl,” the Mayor says…”One, if you can control yourself, you can control others. Two, if you can control information, you can control others.” All of the characters heed these maxims at one point or another. And unlike most good vs. evil stories, in this one it is hard to decide which side fits many of the characters. This was one of the sequels I awaited most eagerly this year, and I agree with Lynn that it is even better than the first one and will be fun to discuss with other readers.

The Ask and the Answer will be published on September 8th–mark you calendar. But the second most important thing you will need to know about this book is when its sequel will be released! I am hanging by my fingernails from this cliffhanger! I just saw a press release that announced the Fall 2010 publication of Monsters of Men, book three in the Chaos Walking trilogy. Of the finale, Patrick Ness says,

“Todd and Viola find themselves swept up in a war with the entire fate of humanity at stake.

But how do you know who to fight when the “right” side is so ambiguous? And how much more dangerous is war if you make it personal…?”

I can’t wait.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Hi Guys,

    I’m on a tour bus heading to Wasilla for lunch, but wanted to let fans of this series know there is a great little prequel of sorts available. I’m pretty sure I’ve a post about it. About Viola.

Post a Comment