The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking Series #2)

The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking Series #2)

4.6 117
by Patrick Ness

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Part two of the literary sci-fi thriller follows a boy and a girl who are caught in a warring town where thoughts can be heard — and secrets are never safe.

Reaching the end of their tense and desperate flight in THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, Todd and Viola did not find healing and hope in Haven. They found instead their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss,


Part two of the literary sci-fi thriller follows a boy and a girl who are caught in a warring town where thoughts can be heard — and secrets are never safe.

Reaching the end of their tense and desperate flight in THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, Todd and Viola did not find healing and hope in Haven. They found instead their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss, waiting to welcome them to New Prentisstown. There they are forced into separate lives: Todd to prison, and Viola to a house of healing where her wounds are treated. Soon Viola is swept into the ruthless activities of the Answer, aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical government. Todd, meanwhile, faces impossible choices when forced to join the mayor’s oppressive new regime. In alternating narratives — Todd’s gritty and volatile; Viola’s calmer but equally stubborn — the two struggle to reconcile their own dubious actions with their deepest beliefs. Torn by confusion and compromise, suspicion and betrayal, can their trust in each other possibly survive?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This grim and beautifully written sequel to Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go picks up where its predecessor left off and will have readers racing to its painful conclusion. Having escaped from the dystopian, all-male Prentisstown, teenagers Todd and Viola have fled to the city of Haven, only to discover that Prentisstown's mayor, a powerful and charismatic sociopath, has gotten there first, intent on controlling the entire planet. Separated, the friends are caught up on opposite sides of a horrific, morally ambiguous civil war, with Todd coming close to madness. (Viola later reminds Todd, who has undertaken some shocking and cruel responsibilities while working with the mayor, “We all fall but that's not what matters. What matters is picking yourself up again.”) This superb novel, which ends with a gripping cliffhanger that sets up the third Chaos Walking book, uses a brilliant cast of well-developed characters and its singular setting and premise to present a provocative examination of the nature of evil and humanity. This is among the best YA science fiction novels of the year. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Anita Barnes Lowen
Todd and Viola have not found refuge in Haven. "It wasn't Haven at all. It was New Prentisstown" where Mayor Prentiss (now self-proclaimed President Prentiss) is in charge. Todd is thrown into a room at the top of the old bell tower and Viola is sent to a House of Healing to be cared for until her gunshot wound has healed. As the days pass, Todd is drawn into the machinations of Mayor Prentiss as he puts into place the Draconian measures designed to guarantee his control. Resistant at first, Viola reluctantly joins The Answer, a terrorist group lead by Mistress Coyle who will do anything possible to overthrow Prentiss and end his rule. Forced to compromise their beliefs, betrayed by those they come to trust, and suspicious of one another, is it possible for Viola and Todd to remain loyal to themselves and to each other? But Todd will soon discover, when he sees an army of Spackle marching for town, that the end is only the beginning. Read the first book in this trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go, before beginning the second. Knowing about the past is essential, such as the Spackle (the natives of the planet, New World) and the NOISE germ that killed all the women and infected the men so that all their thoughts and emotions are broadcast and heard by all. This is a stunning not-to-be-missed science fiction adventure set in an extraordinarily imagined world. Highly recommended. Reviewer: Anita Barnes Lowen
School Library Journal
Gr 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
Kirkus Reviews
Ness delivers a leaner, meaner narrative in the highly anticipated sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008). At the end of Book One, Todd and Viola found themselves at the mercy of Mayor Prentiss, with Viola near death. Now Todd is forced to join the Mayor's oppressive regime, while Viola is saved and then tutored by the female Healers, led by powerful Mistress Coyle. When the Mayor makes clear his distrust of women, who are impervious to the planet's Noise germ, Mistress Coyle resurrects The Answer, a former terrorist group, which attempts to bomb the Mayor's ruthless Askers into submission. Meanwhile, Todd and Viola are being turned against each other, as each leader tries to persuade the teens that his/her cause is just. Provocative questions about gender bias, racism, the meaning of war and the price of peace are thoughtfully threaded throughout a breathless, often violent plot peopled with heartbreakingly real characters. Newbies will need the first volume to understand this one, and fans are given only a momentary respite as the author continues his tradition of cliffhanger endings. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Chaos Walking Series, #2
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.67(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Patrick Ness is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, the prize-winning novel A Monster Calls, and More Than This. He has won numerous awards, including the Carnegie Medal (twice), the Galaxy National Book Award, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, the Red House Children’s Book Award, and the UKLA Book Award. He lives in London.

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The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking Series #2) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 119 reviews.
PlumPudding More than 1 year ago
Oh my . . . oh my god. I can't even form coherent thoughts right now. I probably should wait at least a day before I review this book just so I can actually think. Because the first book was driven, focused, a beautiful telling, but the second book is where Patrick Ness's genius absolutely leaps off the page and grabs you. All those plot twists, character arcs, the meticulous planning of events, they could only be thought up by a genius. I've decided. Ness is a genius. A masterful storyteller. He knows how leave readers dying for the next page, how to make his characters and relationships fester in one's mind until they have to pick the book back up again. He knows people, too. Real people, not just characters slapped on a page. These are real, breathing people with minds and personalities of their own as complex as people I know (heck, even more so). What would this character do in this situation? It seems as if most writers put down what THEY want the character to do to further the plot. What Ness does is listen to the character. These are all actions of the characters, not the writer. I rarely ever see this done well. Perfect, actually. I can't praise this book highly enough. It made me feel every emotion, and not just feel it, suffer it. This book is TERRIBLY traumatic. I might have been screaming as I was reading it and freaking out those around me. The manipulation, the thought processes, they were all so traumatic because they were so believable and well-written. I'd also like to point out the absolute flawlessness of Viola and Todd's relationship. It's not even something easily explained, because it, like the characters themselves, is complex and so, so very genuine. Again, this man is a genius. A storytelling genius. I know I'm gushing, but I can't seem to stop. This trilogy gets inside my head and I can't think of anything else. One of my favorite books, hands down. I don't think I'll ever get over it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in two days, and loved every single page of it. There are plenty of twists, and the plot never gets boring. If you read the first book, there is absolutely no reason not to read this one.
Kaylene Kilbarger More than 1 year ago
As always i was blown away..perfect story from a perfect author..wat else could you ask for?great ending..wouldnt change a thing..well maybe having an epilouge?haha
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
100% AMAZING. I just can't keep up with Ness' mind games! And those are the BEST kinds of books, the kinds that keep you guessing and actively engaged. So excited to see how this series ends!
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JessicaCoffee More than 1 year ago
Just when you think you know where he's going to go with the plot, he changes things up on you. Patrick Ness has dreamed up an amazing and twisted world. Love it, well worth the read. Oh, and have book #3 (Monsters of Men) handy. I'm just saying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever. I love tjis series. I promise you youre not wasteing your monkey if you buy this.
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ReviewerMar More than 1 year ago
The Ask and the Answer was in one word: SURPRISE! Seriously, so many plot turns in one novel is epic! (Although it also was quite confusing at some points...) The story continues with Todd and Viola, seperated, in New Prentisstown. It is like hell there, or at least it is like that for Todd, who is locked up inside a church tower. He has got to work together with his biggest enemy and has to let the 'spackle' do horrible things. Numb by his inside emotional pain he abides. First of all I must say I really missed Manchee. I really came to love that dog, and when he died in part one my heart was broken! The other characters changed so much between book 1 and 2 I was unable to believe it at the first. Viola has become all Katniss-like kick-ass, while Todd has become an emotional wreck, numb from the inside. Some parts from Todd's point of View literally broke my heart, just because they were so depressing. Paper towels are needed while reading this! Also, Davy really impressed me while reading this book. I was really confused when I was halfway through the book. I had come to like him, even though he was kind of evil... Why do I always like the evil guys?! The plot of this novel was full of suspense. I can describe it as The Hunger Games' Mockingjay from both Katniss' and Peeta's point of view. It pretty much describes the first part. Only I liked this book better than Mockingjay! Some parts of it just blew my mind, and I had to read them multiple times just to believe them. I adore the way Ness describes everything that happens around his characters, I am in love with the way the parts from Todd's Point of View are written, with grammar errors that were meant to be there (infection-infectshun etc.), and I really like it how of the 519 pages of this novel 0 bored me! An amazing sequel full of suspense for anyone who likes dystopia and doesn't mind a big book, whatever age or gender you are! Please keep in mind that there are extremely touching moments, paper towels needed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A breathtaking novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Even better than the first book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A stunning sequel.
GracieGT2 More than 1 year ago
The Ask and the Answer picks up right where The Knife of Never Letting Go left off and doesn't hesitate to dive right into the mystery and intrigue surrounding Mayor Prentiss as the leader of New Prentisstown. Todd and Viola are separated: Viola is sent to a healing house to be looked after while Todd is forced to cooperate with the tyrannical Mayor. Not far into the story, the Mayor begins to reveal his twisted, more calculating cold side. Meanwhile, Viola has found herself in the hands of a new villain, Mistress Coyle, who leads an all-women's terrorist movement against the Mayor called the Answer. But for there to be and Answer, someone has to Ask... Soon enough, Todd and Viola find themselves on opposite sides of a brewing war: the Ask and the Answer. Throughout the entire novel, the pair struggles to reunite, but when they finally do, the tensions between them threaten to tear them apart. This book is even darker and more political than Knife, with more mature themes about morals and ethics. Instead of the standard "do the right thing" message, the book blurs the lines between right and wrong and forces the characters to make difficult decisions and painful sacrifices; giving instead the message "what IS the right thing?". It all leads up to an electrifying climax that is one of the best I have ever read. You might want to buy Monsters of Men along with this book; you'll want to jump right to it after finishing this.