The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

6276045Yet another book I was all prepared to love. In fact, it was a total free choice book at the end of February. There was no obligation – just desire! Meant as a fabulous birthday present to myself. Because I loved – LOVED – The Knife of Never Letting Go which kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Heart attack central. But y’all, I found myself bored more often than not.

I’m not going to detail the plot since this is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. The series as a whole follows the human race after abandoning Earth and shacking up on a new planet. Lots of things have gone horribly wrong. Men’s thoughts are heard by all. Where are all the women? Alien races are being oppressed. And the leaders are complete dictatorial douches. You know, the usual. The story follows adolescent protagonist Todd Hewitt as he tries to navigate his enemies and usurp the political status quo.

TKoNLG was all about the chase. And it was epic. Page after page of Todd running, running, running. He met new people along the way and uncovered so many secrets. To be honest, the plot was almost too exciting. It required breaks for my sanity. The heartbreak was also staggering. I knew The Ask and the Answer was going to be an entirely other thing – a book about tyranny and oppression – but I didn’t expect to grow bored.

So what happened? The basic story was fine, even great. The number of pages it took to tell was unfortunate. As we switched back and forth between our narrators, I often found myself yawning and hoping somebody would finally make a decision or a revelation or something. I could simply blame this dullness on the back and forth narration. But that wouldn’t be telling the whole truth because both Todd and Viola annoyed me.

Did I enjoy anything? Of course! I still gave the book three stars, after all. I enjoyed seeing Mayor Prentiss charm and manipulate the town. The elaborate chess game the charismatic dictator plays is fascinating to watch. The gender commentary was also engrossing. I love that Ness’s books are never just one thing. He takes writing for young adults seriously and respects their intelligence. Love, love that. The novel’s conclusion was a force to be reckoned with and does a beautiful job urging one on to the final installment. I just wished all the character bits had lived up to all that.

But don’t take my word for it! Several readers cite this as their favorite in the trilogy. Some readers think the whole thing is trash. I’d suggest, however, that this is one YA series worth giving a go.


The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

3167229The amazing YA streak continues! I can’t believe how many wonderful young adult books I’ve read recently. TKoNLG had been on my shelf for close to a year so it was high time I picked it up. But all the HYPE had me mucho worried. Then Andi read it, loved it, and so I decided to jump on in.

Todd is a boy living in Prentisstown on New World. Not Earth. Future place of habitation after Earth has had all of the terrible problems. In Prentisstown, men can hear each other’s thoughts which is called ‘Noise’. Also, no women. Not a single one. Apparently, a disease carried by the local alien population killed them off. One day Todd and his trusty sidekick canine companion, Manchee, hear a void in all the ‘Noise’ and that gets them into a bunch of trouble with the townsmen. Que running for your life adventure quest.

So much action. I’m sort of amazed at Ness’s imagination and ability to keep writing near misses and heart-pumping emotional craziness. My word of warning to you is that once you start Knife you can’t stop. I suppose you might be able to take short potty breaks, but I don’t recommend. Todd and his travel companions are always one page away from total disaster which can sort of resemble whiplash after awhile. I’ll also admit this can make a reader rather weary. I wanted Todd to catch a break every so often. But no.

The characters are awesome. Todd, in particular, is well-written. Finally, a teenage male protagonist in YA that sounds exactly like he should. Which means that Todd can be a total ass and hard to like. Perfect. But Manchee (yes, a dog) really steals the show. Because did I mention animals can talk on New World? That little guy was so full of spunk and loyalty that I defy you dog-haters to hate.

The end equals major cliffhanger. I can’t believe I haven’t bought the second book and inhaled it yet. But I think a break between the emotional chaos Ness creates is a must. My heart could barely stand this book at times. Also, no real love story – WINNING.

My biggest issue was the predictability. But  not a deal breaker by any means. Recommended!