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 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

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Overview

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 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, while Todd faces impossible choices when forced to join the mayor’s oppressive new regime. In alternating narratives 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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763648374
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
08/10/2010
Series:
Chaos Walking Series, #2
Pages:
528
Product dimensions:
8.72(w) x 11.18(h) x 1.43(d)
Lexile:
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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