The Ask and the Answer (The Chaos Walking Trilogy, Book #2) by Patrick Ness
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…
This is going to get spoilery y’all, so if you haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go, consider yourself warned (and seriously, you’re missing out on an amazing book. It tore me up, but it was such a good journey).
When we last left Todd and Viola, they’d arrived in Haven, the town they’d hoped would protect them from Mayor Prentiss and his army. What they find in those last painful pages of the book, is that the Mayor and his men have taken the town. Oh and he isn’t just Mayor anymore. No, you can call him Mr. President thankyouverymuch. Todd and Viola are separated and thus, it all ended in a shizzstorm of WHHHHATTT? So, all in all, it was a shocking turn in an already painfully good story.
As The Ask and The Answer opens, Todd and Voila have had no contact for ages. Viola has been sent to a house of healing to nurse her gunshot wound (though she is clearly being kept against her will) and Todd is imprisoned. The Mayor uses them against each other, promising to protect each if they cooperate and appease him. In his smooth, swarmy way, he seems almost kind (oh, but there’s such an evil undercurrent. Don’t trust him). His motives and his means are cruel, but it’s clear that he sees in both Todd and Viola a strength he appreciates and hopes to harness.
In the house of healing, Viola is exposed to a group of women who are part of an underground group called The Answer. They begin to attack the town in an effort to weaken the Mayor and his forces. They attempt to get into Viola’s head, to convince her that Todd is on the Mayor’s side now and that the best way to save him is to help them save the town. It makes sense, except that Viola isn’t really sure she can trust them.
And poor Todd. He’s put to work with Davy Prentiss, you know, the guy who shot Voila. Davy is one screwed up guy, battling his hatred for Todd, his desire to please his father and his overall void of human emotion. The two oversee a group of Spackle who are treated horribly—herded, branded and forced to work to further more of the Mayor’s evil plans.
The Mayor’s influence wears on Todd. And it only gets worse when Voila disappears with The Answer, abandoning Todd. As a battle rages between The Answer and New Prentisstown (that’s the new name of Haven), the Mayor adds Todd to his highest ranks, adding a faction called The Ask. So basically, Todd and Viola are on totally opposite sides now (but not really). Viola wants to rescue him, and Todd is lost in his anguish over Viola, shutting himself down emotionally to survive the Mayor and his plans. It’s total insanity.
Of course I loved it. Of course! It was a tougher start than the last one. It took a while to get going, but once it did the story was absolutely fantastic. I still have so much love for Todd and Viola, two such strong characters, driven by their devotion to one another. It makes them go to such lengths, sacrifice so much of themselves, just to ensure the well-being of the other. Their bond is one that I can’t even label. It’s not romantic, but it’s something deeper than mere friendship. Though they don’t know exactly who they can trust, even when separated they know that they’ll do anything for the other.
As with The Knife of Never Letting Go, this book ends with a cliffhanger, setting it up perfectly for the third and final book. My only apprehension in reading the next book is that I know I won’t be ready to let go of these two. They are such phenomenal characters. It will absolutely break my heart to say goodbye.
Crush Intensity: 4.75/5 Read this series. Do it!