Book Review: The Ask And The Answer (Chaos Walking #2) by Patrick Ness

“We are the choices we make.”

The second book in Patrick NessChaos Walking trilogy and originally published in 2009, The Ask And The Answer sees Todd and Viola separated after the events of the first book, as a wounded Viola finds herself in the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

Rating:

Taking a very different path than the one the first book led us down, The Ask And The Answer progresses in a very authentic manner, not focusing on relationships or speeding towards a resolution, but seeing Todd and Viola stuck in the middle of a Civil war as all of their free will is taken away from them.

It’s a brave route to take as having Todd and Viola separated for so much of the book means that it can’t rely on the chemistry that the first book built up. But as we see Todd and Viola in such very different positions, Ness gives a great insight into the opposing sides of this war, brilliantly exploring the grey area of what makes you a good or bad person.

Ness is such a fantastic writer and I think young adult readers will take away a lot from his characters, as he really knows how to engage with them and their mindset. Had I read this fifteen years ago, I definitely think that I would have found it more inspiring and action-packed, so a lot of my disengagement is due to my age. As it is, I felt too emotionally detached from the characters to engage with it more.

It’s not really a book that can be read as a standalone as it doesn’t explain the setting and situation well enough for new readers to really understand what’s going on, but getting used to the writing of the first book will mean that you can enjoy this one more easily.

I may not have really cared for this second instalment, but I’m definitely interested read the final book to see how it all ends.

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