Hello Humans! After quite a few books in between (I got excited about both library books and new releases), I’m here with my readalong for The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness. I read The Knife of Never Letting Go way back in June of 2018 and the sequels have been sat on my TBR since then so it’s great to be getting back into this series. I have had the warning from my spouse that this series gets dark so I’m a little dubious but still excited going in.
Fair warning, this review may contain spoilers for the first book in the series, but I’ll do my best to keep it spoiler free for this book.
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…
Beginning – Chapter Nine
I intended to read this and check in every time I finished a part, but then I read past the end of part one while on the bus into work this morning and I didn’t want to stop so you’re getting part one and then a little bit more.
Oof if this is just the beginning then I’m in for a dark read, aren’t I? Just a couple of pages in and you’re already launched into quite a gnarly torture scene. Since this is just the build-up, I’m a little bit scared about what’s to come.
I had forgotten how interesting Todd’s ‘voice’ was, since he’s written as a somewhat uneducated individual (at one point they call him a ‘hick’) and Ness decides to put that into the writing, with deliberate misspellings and such. Unlike other books, I could mention (Satellite) this doesn’t bother me, I actually think it’s a great way of getting inside a character’s head.
The other thing that’s interesting to me is the lack of ‘noise’ in comparison to the first book. Of course, it’s still there in its nifty fonts, but far less than there was at the start of book one. Obviously, there was a greater need to have it set up as being ingrained in the world in book one, but I am missing it somewhat in this story, I imagine there will be more as the book goes on.
Part Two (mostly)
Managed to stop myself at the end of part two for a quick check-in – but not much plot has happened (or rather, a lot has happened but at this stage, it hasn’t exactly progressed the plot), I’d say it’s still setting building.
This continues to be incredibly dark, with slavery and manipulation and I know I’m supposed to be uncomfortable and it’s working. I have to get in a car to Manchester in an hour and I’m going to be all shaken up!
PLOT! OODLES OF PLOT!
This book isn’t lightening up, I didn’t expect it to. What I’m finding interesting from my own perspective is that I often get very fed up in books as dark as these, wanting something good to happen to the characters in order to create some contrast with the bad. In this case, I don’t think I can argue anything good has happened but I’m not getting annoyed. Thinking about it, I think it’s because there is still contrast, but in this case, it’s contrasting all the terrible stuff with hope. There’s a good deal of hope in this book and every time it gets utterly dashed it feels a little bit more cutting. It’s not exactly a pleasurable reading experience but it sure is good writing.
Part four looks kind of long…am I going to have time to read it before I have to hop in the car? Possibly not – my next update may be coming from Manchester.
Part Four – End
I did go to Manchester I swear! However, I didn’t have time to write this readalong while I was there so I’m finishing it off from the comfort of Oxford just in time to share with you! So I think it’s probably more effective to skip right on to the final verdict rather then have me struggle to remember which bit happened in which part!
This book is GOOD. It read more ‘teen’ than I think I had built it up in my head. There’s a lot of ‘we love each other and that fixes everything’ and I’m not as on board with that as I was when I was a teen reader myself, but I can see how that’s the target audience showing through, as well as the original publication date. But no, I genuinely think this was a great follow on to The Knife of Never Letting Go. I really hope it isn’t another year before I get to read the third book – but the TBR jar (more on that later) is fickle and who knows?
I think this book deals with some incredibly heavy theme in a way that is simultaneously hugely extreme and also vastly believable. It willingly brings out the darkest parts of humanity and I don’t think you can confidently say that anyone in this book is a hero – and I find that so refreshing in a genre full of chosen ones.
I’d reccomend this if you’re looking for something thought-provoking and unfriendly – I know I’m late to the party and everyone’s read this already but those are my two cents!
My rating: 4/5 stars
I bought this book myself, all opinions are my own.
What will the TBR Jar choose next?
YES! I should say, I replaced the TBR tea-cup with a lovely glass jar I picked up in Hobbycraft. I’m not at home while writing this – but I’ll try to get a photo for the next readalong post because it is LOVELY.
YAY! I bought The Cerulean in Foyles on our trip to the Melinda Salisbury book launch in London and I’m excited to get to read it so soon! I’ve been wanting this book purely for the cover since I saw it on some blog post (something about YA books to look out for in 2019…I forget). I honestly don’t think I’ll care if this book is terrible – I’m so obsessed with the cover.
But stay tuned to see how it is! I’ll be back with another readalong in a few days!
What say you? Have you read The Ask and the Answer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!