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The Ask and the Answer: Chaos Walking: Book Two Hardcover – September 8, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Todd Hewitt, 13, is locked in a tower in New Prentisstown, a space colony, and separated from Viola, after the dramatic cliff-hanger in The Knife of Never Letting Go (Candlewick, 2008). Tracked down by the manipulative mayor of the all-male community he escaped, he is unaware that Viola is also under guard and recouping nearby. The noise that clatters through men's minds makes it difficult for Todd to keep any secrets about his intentions to find Viola and accompany her on a mission to contact her people, who are on their way to colonize this unsettled and fractured new world. The previous war, which killed most of the women and made slaves of the aboriginal alien Spackles, has pitted the survivors against one another. The "Answer," comprised of women and a few men who lost daughters and mothers in the war, come to blows with the "Ask," the mayor's group of fundamentalist men and their Spackle slaves. The story breaks into alternating narratives, in different fonts, as Todd is forcefully commissioned into the "Ask" and Viola into the "Answer." Their quest to reunite will keep readers focused on their relationship and moral motivation in this graphically violent and dystopian world. Lacking in this episode are lighter moments shared by Todd and his dog, who has been replaced by a less personable horse. Science fiction lovers will be looking for the next installment in this fast-paced and imaginative series.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
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I think you'll just have to trust me when I say that this book is worth reading. It's grim, yes, but so well written that it's acceptable. I would recommend this to all teenagers. I don't care about your book preferences. This is worth a read, I promise. Five stars - I couldn't give it less. * The Guardian Online * --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
I had a great time reading this. On to the finale!
“Faith with proof is no faith at all.”
This second installment, I'll admit- does lag towards the end. But for the most part- Patrick Ness's gift for pacing shines here. In the beginning of the novel (minor spoiler) Todd and Viola are separated upon arriving to Haven- now New Prentisstown. From that point- Viola and Todd embark on two separate journeys. Their character's develop seamlessly. Todd struggles with controlling his noise and committing atrocities to keep Viola alive- and Viola struggles with working for terrorists.
The Ask and the Answer is a heavy, graphic book-at times its hard to get trough- but it's an important book. Though it is a dystopian- I don't feel like the issues that our characters deal with are all that far away. And perhaps, that's what makes this book so good. It gets underneath your skin.
I can't wait to start the final volume
I know this says very little about the content, but it's an incredibly powerful story. I'm not a sci-fi fan usually, but I would beg you not to let that be a deterrent. I would recommend you start with book one, but if you don't want to, I think that's OK too. It's not exactly a page turner, but if you want a good story; if you want great literary skill... just read this book.
Through Todd we learn Haven surrendered to Mayor Prentiss, who then changed Haven's name to New Prentisstown and declared himself President of the New World. Mayor Prentiss is a sick twist, no doubt about it, and he didn't waste time learning that the best way to keep Todd in line is by holding Viola hostage. Todd is sent to work, under Davy Prentiss Jr's supervision, as a slave-driver, keeping the Spackle prisoners clearing the land.
Through Viola, we meet the healers, and a new character by the name of Mistress Coyle. Mistress Coyle tries to develop a relationship with Viola, asking her questions about the new settlers coming in, and pumping for information about the invading army, and trying to get Viola to understand that the decision to surrender was not a unanimous one. Unfortunately for Viola, it takes her too long to figure out Mistress Coyle isn't the beacon of hope she promises to be.
As a cold war turns red hot, Chaos Walking dives deeper into darker themes. Men and Women are separated by thought in book 1, but in book 2 they're separated by opinion, by walls, by curfews. And as President Prentiss's dictatorship thrives, he takes the Spackle servants of Haven and turns them into chattel. As President Prentiss begins to settle into his new role, revolutionaries flee, organize, and fight back; people get caught in the cross fire and terror spreads... Bringing the thin line that separates terrorism and revolution under stress.
I loved getting a closer look at Davy Prentiss Jr,. In book 1, he depicted as being as awful as his father and in book 2 we get to see why that is. First he's raised by a sociopath, then he's cast in the role of forever trying and failing to achieve his father's love... And as the new president tries to keep his new government together, the more it becomes blatantly obvious that blood's got little to do with family.
Todd and Viola are put under increasing pressure to conform and behave, so the other may live, so they might someday reunite... Even as they hold their survival first, they begin to recognize the cost of choosing sides in a war... The cost of lives of those stuck in the middle.
And just as the story is becomes overloaded with moral and emotional dilemmas, just as a full scale war for possession of the New World begins-- Another cliffhanger ending.
The only reason this story missed out on another five star rating: I felt the author became inconsistent with Todd's narration. he only remembered once in awhile that Todd couldn't spell big words...Although that may have been an attempt at removing the last of the humor and evolving the story into more serious material... I was also a little peeved at another cliffhanger.