The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness [Review]

“That was an effing brilliant read.  Only I don’t say ‘effing’ do I?”

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick NessSorry you’re not going to get a synopsis with this one, no way, no how. The only way to go into this one is blind, folks. So I’m just going to talk about the experience of reading it.

…Not that I could sum up the plot anyway!

The book starts right from the cliff-hanger ending of the previous novel, with Todd and Viola in the clutches of the former Mayor of Prentisstown (now calling himself the President of New World)

The pace is less frantic than in The Knife of Never Letting Go, but that does not mean less happens. If anything the plot is even more frantic in this one with even more twists and turns. If reading TKONLG was akin to riding a rollercoaster. Then, The Ask and the Answer is like riding the same rollercoaster, at a slower speed, backwards, blindfolded with all the harnesses removed. All you can do is cling on and hope.

It grabs hold, screws with every emotion you have, chews you up, guts out your insides, and spits you out the other end. Leaving you an empty gibbering husk of a reader. And you know what? You eagerly go back for more!

Reading this book is a harrowing experience, you don’t want to put the thing down, but when you do (and there are many times you have to, just so you don’t sling it against the wall!) there is a fear about picking it back up again, and what you might find.

It is far more frightening a book than any horror book you’ll ever read. There is true evil at work here, evil that is not simple black and white, nor even just a singular evil. Characters you love are forced to do horrible, horrible things. Things that are both easy and impossible to see yourself doing if you were ever forced into a similar position. Characters you hate with a passion, you are forced to reassess and identify (if not agree) with their motives.

The wars you’ve seen happen, the more you are aware of what goes on “on the ground” in war time, the war crimes, the things people will do and suffer through just to survive, the more you can hear phrases, such as, “If not us, then who? At least we will do it with some level of humanity…” and only be shocked at what is being done, not that someone had to say it,  then the more harrowing this book gets.

And I’m telling you this not because I want to scare you off from reading it, which is what it might look like, but because you really need to read it. This is one of those books (inc the first one) you can shove at people that demean books as something lesser than TV, film or computer games.

This does everything that a book should do, grip you, burn itself into your imagination and effect you for days after reading it.

I really thought that, Terry Pratchett’s Nation, could not be topped as my favourite read this year, it’s held on for nigh on ten months, despite challenges from addictiveness of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and the shear joy of My Most Excellent Year, to name but a few, but now, I’m really not sure, it’s going to be a bloody close thing.

Sheer brilliance.

Buy, The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness from The Book Depository

Other Reviews to Consider

Things Mean a Lot, Karin’s Book Nook, Guys Lit Wire, Jenny’s Books, Persnickety Snark, Kids Lit, YA Reads, Becky’s Book Reviews, My Fluttering Heart, Urban Bachelorette, The Book Smugglers.

Further Info

The final book in the Chao Walking trilogy, Monsters of Men is due out in 2010 (and I can’t wait!)

Patrick Ness has also written a short prequel to the series, following Viola as she and her family head to the New World, you can find it on line at the booktrust website.

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Darren

Bart, is a fully signed up member of Book Addicts Anonymous ;) Despite, constantly fighting a losing battle against his T.B.R pile, he is never happier than when he manages to sneak a new book in to the house! Darren can be found on Twitter & Google+ amongst other places!

42 thoughts on “The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness [Review]

  • October 17 at 7:43 pm
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    “If reading TKONLG was akin to riding a rollercoaster. Then, The Ask and the Answer is like riding the same rollercoaster, at a slower speed, backwards, blindfolded with all the harnesses removed.”

    Ha, YES! That’s a perfect description. And you know, I’m glad I read Nation last year and that it’s number one spot was thus secured 😉
    .-= Nymeth´s last blog ..The Turn of the Screw by Henry James =-.

    • October 18 at 9:50 am
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      ‘snot fair! Too many good books! :p

  • October 18 at 3:23 am
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    You did such a great review with this one! It’s a tough one to review because the less you know the better. But I think you did the book justice!!! I think it is one of the best, best books I’ve read this year–if not every other year too. It really restored my faith in reading.
    .-= Becky´s last blog ..The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had (MG) =-.

    • October 18 at 9:48 am
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      Thank you, glad you liked my review, it really was a great book. 😀

  • October 18 at 6:31 am
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    I went ahead and read this review, though I was scared to death there would be spoilers! I should’ve known I could trust you 😉 Ok…now I’m dying to just pull it off the shelf and read!!!!! The problem is, I’m reading 3 books already and trying to finish them before the readathon. Why do you do this to me Darren, why!!! LOL.
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..The Sunday Salon – Sunday Reading Journal =-.

    • October 18 at 9:28 am
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      As if I’d spoil you!

      It would be impossible to talk about the plot without spoilers anyway, which is why I didn’t. You may want to pad the walls in your new house though, if you through your the last one against the wall… :p

      I wouldn’t read it for the readathon though, you wont be capable of reading anything else afterwards!

  • October 18 at 2:58 pm
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    First, thank you for this: “Sorry you’re not going to get a synopsis with this one, no way, no how. The only way to go into this one is blind, folks. So I’m just going to talk about the experience of reading it.” Okay, now I’ll go back and read the post….

    I’m back: Ok, I’ll go buy the Knife of Never Letting Go and then TAATA (or whatever that hashtag was).

    Sigh. Book blogging is the death of me . . . no retirement because I can’t save any money.
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Awarded Three Times Over =-.

    • October 19 at 9:38 pm
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      Yay! Peer pressure works for good as well sometimes! 😀

  • October 18 at 4:04 pm
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    I’m glad you enjoyed it so much – now the long agonizing wait for the third book. Though I can’t imagine things are going to end well…
    .-= Jenny´s last blog ..This week on BTT =-.

    • October 19 at 9:36 pm
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      Oh god, don’t. It doesn’t look good for them does it?

  • October 18 at 4:44 pm
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    I didn’t read the review or the comments, because I have just ordered this book and am looking forward to read it. The first one was brillant and I will come back here and see what you said about this one once I’ve read it myself.
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..Can you see them? The widgets? =-.

    • October 19 at 9:32 pm
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      You’re safe reading the review you know, kept it spoiler free and everything! (Although I was fairly honest about the potential state of your emotions at the end of reading the book!)

  • October 18 at 10:14 pm
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    I’ve got The Knife of Never Letting Go. I’ve just got to get it to the top of my TBR pile! That book is a big example of how following book bloggers introduced me to a book. Never heard of it before then!

    • October 19 at 9:28 pm
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      It really has gone viral throughout the blogosphere recently hasn’t it? And deservedly so, as well. I just know you’ll enjoy it once it makes it way to the top of your TBR pile!

  • October 19 at 12:41 am
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    Okay, I didn’t allow myself to read this review, because I just started the book. But I must say your first line is the most utterly brilliant beginning to a review I’ve EVER seen! 😀
    .-= Debi´s last blog ..Dangerous Angels…random thoughts =-.

    • October 19 at 9:19 pm
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      Thanks! I was quite proud (read: smug!) about it myself. 😀

  • October 19 at 3:00 am
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    I considered reading this book earlier today, but I have too many other commitments at the moment…

    • October 19 at 9:18 pm
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      It’s well worth your time once you get around to it! 😀

  • October 22 at 4:06 am
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    Thanks for not revealing the plot; I appreciate it when reviewers recognize that it’s best to go into a book blind. And I’ll add it to my list, ’cause I’m really curious. Thanks!
    .-= Jena´s last blog ..Revised Read-a-Thon List =-.

    • October 22 at 9:11 pm
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      Both the books have been ones which are much better not knowing what happens ahead of time. I’m sure you’ll enjoy both of them.

  • October 23 at 7:29 pm
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    Sold! I’ve been making a list of YA fiction for myself, and I’ve just added four titles to my list, just from reading this post. I love books that force me to reassess everything, and from your review it sounds like the Ness books will do that.
    .-= Priscilla´s last blog ..Booking Through Thursday: One Question =-.

  • October 25 at 2:08 am
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    I have always wanted to comment on your blog, and now I can as a cheerleader! CLEARLY I need to get a copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go and get going with this series since everyone loves it! It’s on the wish list and hopefully I get my hands on it soon…

    Good luck reading!

  • October 25 at 9:34 am
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    Oh man. I finished The Knife of Never Letting Go last week. It almost killed me. And yet, that didn’t stop me from requesting this one from the library!! I just picked it up!! I may wait a week or so to start, but I have a feeling I’ll have the same love/hate I had for the first one. I loved it….and yet it tore at my heart.

  • October 27 at 11:51 pm
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    “It grabs hold, screws with every emotion you have, chews you up, guts out your insides, and spits you out the other end. Leaving you an empty gibbering husk of a reader. And you know what? You eagerly go back for more!”

    so true! I was holding my breath all the time. If it had been a movie I would have watched it through my hands, trying to hide from the horrible bits. But no matter how heart-wrenching, it was impossible to move away from it…it’s probably going to be my favourite read of the year, even more than Knife…

    • October 29 at 9:57 pm
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      It’s certainly an exhausting experience to read! (But one I wouldn’t miss!)

      I’m trying not to think about how long until book 3!

  • November 3 at 5:02 am
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    I loved your line at the end of the review, “this does everything that a book should do, grip you, burn itself into your imagination…” That’s so perfect. I haven’t read this one, but it’s waiting. I just finished The Knife of Never Letting Go, and I feel like I need a bit of down time before I go on to the next. Ness’ writing is so flipping intense…a lot to stomach at once.
    Wonderful review! (and thanks for going spoiler-free!)

    • November 3 at 9:21 pm
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      Intense is probably an understatement! 😉

  • November 17 at 9:23 pm
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    I just finished it and had to check your review. My own will be up in a day or two, and I’ll post the link here. But much as I LOVED the TKONLG, I was much less thrilled with TAATA…but definitely still going to read # 3.

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  • January 29 at 12:20 pm
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    Wow, that was a beautifully written review. I am 100 pages from finishing this darn book and agree with everything you wrote, and you clarified it in such an amazing way.

    • January 30 at 12:19 am
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      Thanks! 100 pages from the end, eh? I’ll listen for the scream then!

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