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Feel Free To Ask, But The Answer Might Kill You!

A review of The Ask and the Answer, the second book in Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy, which will probably kill Posh because she love it so much (or at the very least, ruin her fingernails).

Feel Free To Ask, But The Answer Might Kill You!

BOOK REPORT for The Ask And The Answer (Chaos Walking Book 2) by Patrick Ness

Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Wild West
Bonus Factors: District 9, Under the Dome, Rosie the Riveter
Relationship Status: Engaged

Just like my review of The Knife Of Never Letting Go, I must begin this post with a warning: DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES. I realize this will minimize the number of comments on this entry, but THAT'S how much I care about yr well-being as a YA reader. Now, thank me by PICKING UP THE FIRST BOOK IMMEDIATELY. And for those of you who have read The Knife, please know that this review for the second book will refrain from spoilers beyond, say, page 30. Cos I have incredible self-restraint.

The Deal:

Well, shit, you guys. And you know I usually prefer "shizz" but for this book, that's just not gonna cut it. So, the last time we saw Todd and Viola, they had finally reached Haven, only to be captured by the villainous Mayor Prentiss. Plus Viola got shot ARE YOU KIDDING ME? ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME. Seriously, this was one of the most painful cliffhangers I've ever endured, so Patrick Ness, please keep an eye on your mail for a bill FROM MY THERAPIST. GAH. Anyway, as the book begins, Todd is tortured then imprisoned by order of the mayor, who has elected himself president of Haven and renamed it New Prentisstown, because he is not v. creative. Viola wakes up to a much better reality (then again, she did get shot. THANKS AGAIN PATRICK)-- she's the newest resident at a house of healing, which is basically the pioneer version of a hospital, run by Mistress Coyle, a wise and intimidating woman. She begins to mentor Viola in the ways of healing and, um, wait, revolutionary warfare?! See, not everyone is super stoked about the new president (i thought about making a G.W. reference here but, eh, très passé), and Viola and Todd quickly become entangled in the rising tensions between the president's men and the female townspeople. And you know the worst part? Amidst all of this insanity, Todd and Viola have no idea what happened to each other. It's HORRIBLE, because as the reader, you know almost immediately that they're both alive, and you want to be all, "TODD! SHE'S ALIVE!! CAN YOU HEAR ME? VIOLA IS ALIVE!!" and then you bang yr fist on the pages of the book until you get a paper cut and yr boyfriend makes fun of you for "not understanding what fiction means."


As you can see, a simple "Yay!" doesn't suffice for me when it comes to Viola and Todd. THEY ARE SO AMAZING!!! They're brave and resourceful and smart and, most of all, their hearts remain pure in spite of all of the horribleness surrounding them. And since I already gave them my bff charm at the end of the first book, we're now in the stage of friendship where we can tell each other anything and get, like, matching tattoos and shizz. I didn't think it was possible, but I love them even more after reading this second novel. Todd has grown so much, and Viola-- well, now we actually get to hear her perspective instead of having to rely on Todd to guess what's in her head. And surprise, HER BRAIN IS AWESOME. Plus, these two are the kind of friends that can say, "Dude, I got yr back!" and like, they really, really mean it.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

The deepening connection between Viola and Todd definitely kicked this score up a notch, but the power of these books remains more invested in the twisting plot line and less in the smoochies. Obvs I am more than fine with that, because the story is already way too riveting for me to handle, and if Ness threw in more romance, I'd be writing this review from inside a lovely, padded INSANE ASYLUM.

Talky Talk: Wild West

I have to admit, I'm thankful that the scope of the story has widened to include more educated and articulate characters. No offense, Todd, but yr atrocious spelling KILLS ME. (I know you can't help it, you poor thing.) In this second book, we see more of a balance between the Puritan voices of Haven residents like Mistress Coyle and the rough and tumble drawl of the Prentisstown invaders. Most importantly, Ness manages to keep the action moving at the same break neck speed that almost gave me heart palpitations in the first book while deftly handling the two distinct voices of Todd and Viola.

Bonus Factor: District 9

I don't wanna give too much away here, but you best believe the Spackle are involved.

Bonus Factor: Under the Dome

All I can say is, if you've read Under the Dome, then you know that lots of Bad Things happen when someone like Mayor Prentiss (you may know him as Big Jim) take over a town, and that those Bad Things make for a totally thrilling read.

Bonus Factor: Rosie the Riveter

The women of Haven know how to GET. ER. DONE. But unlike Rosie, they don't just build the weapons... they use them. Y'all there is some serious feminist fist pumping in this book, and I totally call dibs on Mistress Coyle for my YA Oceans 11 team cos woman is FIERCE.

Casting Call:

I had a supremely easy time casting Todd in my last review (LANDRY!) but Viola was a much trickier matter. She needs to be girlie and introspective, but she also has, like, a will of steel. I couldn't think of anyone actually teen-aged, so I went with an FYA standby:

Alexis Bledel as Viola

Does she have, like, a younger sister? Maybe? Come on!

As for the Big Bad, I think Brad Leland could take Buddy Garrity, increase the evil by 1000%, and the result would be a spot-on Mayor/President Prentiss.

Brad Leland as Mayor Prentiss

As for the totally badass mastermind known as Mistress Coyle, you KNOW there was only one choice.

Meryl Streep as Mistress Coyle

Relationship Status: Engaged

The Knife and I were totally going steady, and now that I've had the chance to get to know this series on an even deeper level thanks to The Ask And The Answer, WE ARE SO GOING TO THE CHAPEL. I mean, in a while. Ours isn't the kind of relationship you can rush, esp. when I consider all of the counseling sessions we'll need to overcome the shizzload of massive trauma we've endured together. Cos if you thought Ness was a harsh master in the first book, just wait until you see what he does to the characters this time around. It makes the Hunger Games look like an elementary school field day. But you know what they say-- what doesn't kill you (literally!) only makes you stronger, and I am absolutely committed to this series, no matter what disaster may lay ahead (even the one indicated at the end of this book, which is even MORE excruciating in its cliffhangerness than the first novel. BECAUSE PATRICK NESS IS A SADIST). And OMG get this: we've already set the date: September 28th, 2010! As for a wedding gift, I humbly request... THAT NONE OF US DIE. KTHX!

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).