The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

I don’t even know how to review this book and do it justice. I want to make this a spoiler free review and can’t do that AND talk about the plot…so I won’t talk about the plot. I’ll just share with you my experience with reading it. The Ask and the Answer is the second book in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy. The third book, Monsters of Men is due out later this year and I can’t freaking WAIT for it!!!! I may just have to set up a small calendar in my room to count down the days.

This is the best “young adult” I’ve read in ages. And I put young adult in quotes only because I hate to put this book into a classification like that. This book needs to be read by everyone and I don’t think it’s written only for young adults. I often wonder why publishing companies choose to put certain books into a certain section, but that’s a whole different post. Ness writes with power and purpose and passion, and it’s a delicate power that he holds. You’re never safe with him. But you’re never safe in life. That sounds depressing, I know, but it’s the truth. You don’t know what tomorrow brings. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tomorrow could bring good news just as well as it could bring bad and that’s what he gives us in these amazing books. Only more often than not, it’s bad news because of the totalitarianism that he presents us with in this series.

There are so many issues that Ness handles so perfectly in these books. Issues of right vs. wrong and how we judge what truly is right and wrong and how different variables can change their meanings. Issues of discrimination and race are constantly addressed throughout both books so far in the trilogy, even more so in The Ask and the Answer. And he addresses these issues in a way that is so heartwrenchingly real…it just moves the reader to tears. Of course, there are the issues of power and the abuse of power that are addressed. I think that this is the most terrifying part of the whole book. The abuse of power acts as an umbrella that controls all of the other variables of discrimination and racism and right vs. wrong and decision making.Β  But Ness stresses the point continually that the power of individual thinking CAN overcome the control of brainwashing and flooding by the majority. And it’s a point that needs to be stressed more these days. That we as individuals don’t have to be “ok” with going along with how things are.

You know, I just don’t know how Patrick Ness does it exactly, but he evokes an emotional reaction in me like no other author can. He has the ability to take characters that I once hated, could never imagine myself caring about unless they were impaled (maybe then I’d have an emotional reaction of pure joy), and making me cry tears of sorrow for them. I can’t think of another author that has done that to me. His characters are just so real. The imagery he paints into my mind comes alive with the turn of each page. I’m going to be sad to see this series end.

I was talking to Renay the other night about this book and I think I told her something like, “at the end of this book I was reminding myself to breathe, blowing my nose from crying, trying to stop screaming “holy shit”, and trying not to pee on myself all at the same time.” That’s what Ness does to me. And you should let him do the same to you as well if you haven’t already.

14 Responses

  1. I gave my copy of Ask and Answer to my dad to read first, because I was so behind on review books. Now I’m caught up, and he’s not done with it- Argh!

  2. I really enjoy reviews that tell me how the books makes you feel rather than reading about the plot anyway! Between you And Ana I really need to read #1. My son, Marc, who is 15 wasn’t that crazy about book 1 but I’m going to give it a try for sure!

  3. I wish I liked the first book much, much better than I did. For some reason Ness just doesn’t grab me like the rest of you guys.

  4. I love your review. I didn’t review this one because I just didn’t know how to handle it.

  5. I’m so glad you reviewed this one! I just loved this one. It restored my faith in reading actually. I think it’s one of the most well-written, most amazing books ever πŸ™‚

  6. Darren, It is! It is!

    Carrie, Oh no!! You need to get it back from him, lol. Definitely before Monsters of Men comes out!!

    Staci, I do too! And Ness is so good at really making you feel his novels that that’s all you want to talk about. You definitely need to read them πŸ˜‰ Sorry to hear that your son wasn’t nuts about the first one 😦 I can’t imagine anyone not liking these books, but there are those who don’t…see Amanda πŸ˜‰

    Amanda, I just don’t get it :p But I know we all have different tastes in books!! This one just threw my emotions on a whirlwind and I love it when a book does that to me. Maybe that’s the difference between us as readers. Though I know that the two of us do agree on so many books as well. We’ll just agree to disagree on this series πŸ˜‰

    Lahni, Thanks! I really didn’t know how to handle this one either, so I just rambled about it, lol.

    Becky, Wasn’t it incredible? I totally get what you mean. Ness in general has restored my faith in reading. I just can’t wait to follow the rest of the man’s career. He’s a genius!!

  7. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first, but I did enjoy it. Does that make sense? It didn’t make me as breathless as the first, but the first one really overwhelmed me. I love your cover of it, the English version is quite boring.

  8. I haven’t read the first one or this one yet, which makes me a horrible good-book slacker. I intend to, though!

  9. “You know, I just don’t know how Patrick Ness does it exactly, but he evokes an emotional reaction in me like no other author can.”…Amen! I could not have said that better! In fact, I’m off to e-mail you right now so as not to spoil-er anything for others.

  10. It’s weird but I’ve just read The Knife of Never Letting Go and it affected me so much that I’m almost afraid to read The Ask and the Answer. It was brilliant and terrfying all at the same time, so I’ll probably wait a month or so and gird my loins before reading the sequel. Good to know its as good as the first book though.

  11. Vivienne, That totally makes sense. I enjoyed it as much, but in a very different way. I don’t think this one was as immediate as the first book was. I felt like I had settled in and was now continuing the ride. But damn he writes so well!!

    Andi, At least you have a really fantastic series still waiting for you πŸ˜‰

    Debs, I gots your email πŸ˜€ I’ll be emailing you back shortly!!

    Cath, I get that completely!!! It’s been about 3 months since I read TKONLG. I needed a break in between books. It was just so intense! I needed to catch my breath, lol. Such a brilliant series though. Can’t wait for the finale. You are in for a treat though when you read this one!!

  12. Your reaction to this book sounds so much like mine, when I first read it. I got through and I was stunned into silence. It’s amazing how he manages to create these appalling moral dilemmas without ever becoming overwrought. Cannot WAIT for Monsters of Men.

  13. […] and Reviews, There’s A Book, The Cheap Reader, an adventure in reading, Red House Books, Stuff As Dreams Are Made On, Bookish Blather, It’s All About Books, A Book Blog. Period., Becky’s Book Reviews, […]

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