On My Bookshelf: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

December 19, 2016

In The Ask and the Answer, the second book in the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, Todd and Violet's adventures continue. But as Mayor Prentiss's power grows, they can't even be sure if they can trust each other. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: 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? Includes “The Wide, Wide Sea,” a short story by Patrick Ness.

Why I liked it: The Ask and the Answer was quick paced and action packed. Twists in the plot left me never quite sure who and what could be trusted. The alternating narration of Todd and Violet heightened the suspense. However it had been a while since I read the first book in the series and I found it hard to pick up on some things. I wish there had been some review of events at the beginning and the "rules" of this dystopian world.
In The Ask and the Answer, the second book in the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, Todd and Violet's adventures continue. But as Mayor Prentiss's power grows, they can't even be sure if they can trust each other. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

The ending of the novel is a complete surprise, as was the ending of the first book in the series, and leaves you hanging. It's a move few writers are able to do well, especially in young adult literature.

Classroom application: The themes of equality through out the novel could easily be connected to the abolitionist movement, civil rights movement or similar causes. The Spackle are strange, almost alien-like creatures, who are treated like slaves. Women were so feared that they didn't exist in Prentisstown, and in Haven they are not allowed to be doctors, only healers.

The mayor of Haven's actions to try to satisfy Mayor Prentiss could also be compared to the appeasement of Hitler in the 1940's.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Ask and the Answer for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:



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2 comments

  1. I loved this series! I just ordered is standalone book called A Monster Calls and will be reading that soon.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
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