Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: The Ask & The Answer by Patrick Ness

The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, #2) The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Synopsis from Goodreads:
We were in the square, in the square where I'd run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her - But there weren't no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men...Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor's new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode..."The Ask and the Answer" is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had high hopes for this book, the second in Patrick Ness' trilogy. Unfortunately, I didn't love it. It was fine but it wasn't outstanding. In many ways, it read like a completely different book than the first which I found distracting given that this is a trilogy. Beyond the characters and the world they inhabit, there were very few similarities between the first and this one.

This book is really just a description of a civil war between Mayor Prentiss's army and a resistance group called the Answer. There are a lot of 'issues' brought out in this description such as war ethics, torture, genocide, and identity. Although those issues are interesting, the plot itself was less than compelling and ultimately left me feeling ehhh. The plot has many holes which are never filled and just left there for you to look at and wonder about. There were once again a number of secrets to be figured out but they ultimately end up unsatisfying when revealed. I just did not buy a lot of this book. And that made it difficult to get through for me. I kept asking myself why I was reading this ... I didn't find anything truly interesting. I really only stuck with it in case it paid off in the end. But, honestly, it did not. Which is a shame. The premise of this trilogy is fantastic but this book did nothing to accentuate the premise for me.

To his credit, I will say that Ness does a great job at creating a sense of urgency with his pacing of the novel. His ability to create an atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat is definitely incredible.

I think I will ultimately read the last book in the trilogy to see if Ness is able to bring it all together but if it were more than a trilogy, I think I'd be setting it aside for good. I'm willing to read another book in the series but I'm concerned it will not have a payoff in the end.

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