book review: the ask and the answer

The Ask and the Answer is the second book in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series. I didn’t like it as much as The Knife of Never Letting Go, but it is definitely worth a read. (There will be spoilers ahead for TKoNLG ahead. Be warned.)

If the first book is about Todd becoming a man, this one is about the kinds of choices an adult has to make. Todd thinks that Mayor Prentiss is his enemy but through this book he has to work with him at the cost of most of his soul. Viola gets to be a viewpoint character through this story and she’s in with the rebel/terrorist organization trying to stop Mayor Prentiss using bombs. The two of them are stumbling separately through terrible morasses of gray moral areas, so the adventure of the first book, with its clear goals and antagonists is largely gone.

There’s a lot of torture in this book. At least it felt like a lot. It’s much bleaker than the first. There’s more distrust between Todd and Viola but it isn’t pushed to such extremes that you have to yell at the characters or anything. They’re the only ones they really can trust, but it’s hard. Viola is being used to ferry bombs around to blow shit up and Todd’s being used in concentration camp duty branding the aliens. Nothing really good happens in this book, which is mighty oppressive (and that’s from a person who enjoys Empire Strikes Back downer endings, especially in the middle book of a trilogy). Oh no, the interactions with the horses were a tiny bright spot.

Also, I hated the fact that the publisher used a different font for Todd and Viola’s narration, especially since they were also labelled [Todd] and [Viola]. It was redundant and Viola’s font bugged the hell out of me.

I’m looking forward to finishing the series to get a fuller perspective on it, but yeah, so far bing an adult on New World sucks.

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