REVIEW: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Holy fucking shit. Why are these books so intense?
Don't read this review if you haven't read Chaos Walking #1 yet. (Or do, I'm not the boss of you. I just always avoid them for fear of seeing or not seeing names you did or didn't expect and thus possibly being spoiled.)
I always thought these were books for young readers. The protagonist is fourteen years old, like my brother. Books people read after Harry Potter introduced them to the world of reading. And I guess they are. But ho boy, they can be dark. There's so much grey in this story, so much moral ambiguity. It's a complex and captivating book, about pressure, finding and staying yourself, about choices and consequences, about good and bad where nothing is what you think, about monsters of men.
Todd is even more flawed here than in the last book. So much, even, that at times it was hard to still love him. But he was real, so real. Raw and honest and full of questions. In comparison, I felt like Viola was practically all good, but maybe my focus was always more on Todd. I loved the dual pov, and the comparisons to both of them being trained under questionable authorities. That part reminded me somewhat of Mockingjay, and how you can replace tyrants with tyrants if you don't pay close attention.
The relationships between the characters were really good. Viola and Corinne, Tod and Davy, the Mayor, Lee, Todd and Viola, all of them interesting and developing. I liked Lee as a character, he felt like a tiny ray of sunshine, which was a breath of fresh air. Davy... I have complicated, mixed feelings about Davy and I love it. His character arc was incredible, and I love how this gave another look, another possible answer to the question of redemption.
Again, the writing style is great. Todd and Viola sound like different people, with different voices in subtle and visible ways. It adds to their character.
The story is less fast paced, but I didn't have the feeling it was slow. I was completely engrossed from cover to cover. The book deals with interesting, important, and heavy topics in a very strong way. Redemption, terrorism, civil war, genocide, feminism, expectations, power hungriness, slavery and more. That, understandably, makes it heavy. There's not as much hope as in some other books I've read, but more than in book one, which was nice. It has an intense psychological aspect, which was handled brilliantly.
Definitely captivating. Again, I want to start the next one right away. Just a word of advice, if you're thinking of reading these books, find a chapter you feel hopeful enough to take a break because stopping when the book is finished will be a hard feat to accomplish.