The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Title:  The Ask and the Answer
Author:  Patrick Ness
Release date:  September 8, 2009
Publisher:  Candlewick
Pages:  528
Genre:  Young adult fiction, science fiction, dystopia
Source:  Library

I don’t know how to even begin to review The Ask and the Answer.  I will direct you to my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go, which is the first book in this series, and which I loved.  But like the previous book, I don’t want to give away much of the plot because there’s just too much going on and too many spoilers for the first book to even think of telling you what happens in this one.

But I will say this:  I beyond loved this book.  I loved it more than the first one, even.  I’m not sure why that is the case, exactly, but I think it has something to do with the characters.  What I love about series books is that they allow you to get so involved with the characters, so entrenched in their lives, that you feel as though you know them.  That is certainly the case for me with The Ask and the Answer.  The Knife of Never Letting Go was an awesome book, and I loved it for sure, but it took a little bit of time for me to understand and love the characters.  With this one, I knew them from page one and got to learn even more about them, got to fall in love with them even more, throughout these 500+ pages.  I just LOVE that feeling of diving deeper and deeper into characters minds and personalities and everything.

I also loved how much we got to hear from Viola.  Because Viola is awesome.  In so many ways.  And I was SO HAPPY to see so much of her in this book.

There is crazy action in this book, too, of course.  Not quite to the degree as the first book, I must admit, but that’s okay.  There was a lot more information given to the reader in this one, a lot more build-up to the action than actual action.  But I was totally good with that, because the story itself was just so darn awesome.  I stopped waiting for action and just got immersed in the story.

These books raise a lot of important questions.  Questions about conformity, about war, about authority, about a lot of things.  There are some particularly poignant scenes in The Ask and the Answer, and passages that I’d love to share with you if I wasn’t so afraid of spoiling something for you.  So I’ll just encourage you – HIGHLY – to read these books.  They are nothing short of amazing and I’m so, SO anticipating book #3.  I hope Patrick Ness is writing furiously at this very moment so that we can find out what happens soon!

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Title:  The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author:  Patrick Ness
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Published:  September 2008
Pages:  479
Genre:  Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction
Source:  Library


The Knife of Never Letting Go follows Todd Hewitt, who is twelve years old and the youngest person in his entire town.  You see, several years ago a germ was inflicted upon the town, killing all of the women and most of the men.  And Todd is a boy now, but he’s going to become a man in just a few months.  This germ, called the Noise, also caused all of the surviving men to be able to hear every single one of each other’s thoughts.  One day, while playing in a part of the swamp that is forbidden to him, Todd stumbles across something that causes him to question everything he’s ever known about his life.  And what he finds forces him to be on the run from the mayor of his town.  Just him and his faithful dog Manchee, on the run from the most powerful people Todd has ever known.

The thing is that I don’t want to tell you anything more about this book than the above paragraph.  I actually would prefer to tell you nothing about it, but I think a short plot summary is in order so that you are intrigued enough to want to pick it up.  Because you definitely should pick it up.  This novel is gritty and intense and unlike anything I’ve read before.

The difficult thing is that I’m not able to point out what EXACTLY is so great about the book.  I will say that there is so much love in these pages, in the weirdest possible places.  Like a dog that talks, and therefore can tell his owner exactly how much he means to him with just one word.  Or a stranger who suddenly becomes Todd’s only friend in the entire world, to the point where he completely depends upon her and must trust her with his life.  And there’s a lot of pain in here too.  The one scene, if you’ve read it you know exactly what I’m talking about, oh my goodness did my heart get ripped out of my chest.  I can’t even tell you how much that part of the book broke me up inside.  But there’s so much faith and hope in these pages, too.  It’s a crazy contrast where you think all is lost one minute, and the next minute there’s a new development and things start to look up, but no wait more bad is happening and it can’t possibly get any better.  This novel is a thrill ride like no other.

And the ending.  WTF.  I’m in serious need of book 2 after that ending.

All I can say is that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with this book, in a good way.  It is a wonderful story with amazing characters that you will be completely unable to forget.  Highly recommended.

Here are some of the (many) more reviews of The Knife of Never Letting Go.