The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Cover via irisonbooks.com.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

“Oh my gosh,” I sighed in frustration,” why can’t he just shoot him already? Just shoot him!”

My younger cousin, who had never heard a pacifist like me say such a violent thing, looked up from her Etch-a-Sketch. I remember thinking – dang, if only all sequels were this good.

The Ask and the Answer is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, and continues from the last line of The Knife of Never Letting Go. I won’t post a plot synopsis in fear of spoiling it for people who haven’t read the first book – if interested (which I hope you will be by the end of this review), here’s the link to the Goodreads page.

Let’s just say that the plot is crazy. It’s all over the place, in the best possible way. The first book dealt with the right to kill and oppression. This book expanded upon that, including topics like dehumanization, rebellion, trust, and the politics of warfare. Some authors may not possess the ability to handle all of that, but Patrick Ness accomplished it almost perfectly.

The characters are even better. Though Todd and Viola are separated, their bond grows stronger. Their relationship exemplifies what YA relationships should be about – overcoming gargantuan obstacles, fighting for freedom, and staying alive as a superordinate goal. They both develop beautifully. Todd’s struggle to silence his Noise and rein in his unruly emotions hurt him, and it hurt me as well. Viola’s need to do the right thing and her vendetta for vengeance gripped me. The side characters, such as Davy, showed impressive dimensions too.

I highly recommend this series to fans of Neal Shusterman and other young-adult action/adventure/science-fiction authors. A tale of touching sensitivity and heart-pounding twists and turns, there are few that The Ask and the Answer will not please.

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