by Patrick Ness
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"The Ask and the Answer" is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy.
What would you choose if you had the faith of someone you love in your hands?
Would you betray your beliefs?
I must confess that the only honest answer I can give you is :
Of course I’d be so proud if I was able to say that I’d do the right thing whatever it takes, and I want to think I’d do it. Really. Of course there are situations where what to do is obvious because one of the possibilities is utterly bad. But sometimes – sometimes there’s no such thing as a right choice.
The Ask and the Answer is supposed to be a children’s book. Yes, for sure it is. I mean, that seems crystal clear, huh? The main characters are young, aren’t they?
Yes… But still. Is it enough to tell? Really?
Because this book?! It actually made me think more than most of those I’ve read for years. And I read a lot. The Ask and the Answer gives rise to ethical reflection and disturbs us.
What is it that makes you a good person? Is there a boundary line? Where is it, I’m asking, where is it? Is it what you do? What you think? What you allow others to do?
– Blur –
“And they seem to unnerstand. That’s the thing. They unnerstand way more than a sheep would.”
Make no mistakes, I hated Mayor Prentiss – President – Prentiss something fierce. I really did, from the beginning. Then, I never liked a lot this Mistress Coyle either. But these choices our characters must face? They’re difficult. Harsh.
*blush* Can I say it? I only wanted for Todd and Viola to be safe. To be together. To be happy. Yes, I can be idealist that way.
And maybe it makes me a coward, maybe it makes me weak, but –
There was a moment I was just thinking one damn thing : “Run!” Fuck ’em all, and run! (shut up) But of course it’d be selfish. Of course life isn’t so simple. And of course the story would be over, and way less interesting. I may be a romantic but not that dumb. I know that. But still. I’m just saying I thought about it. Fortunately for us, readers who want to be moved but oh my god that’s so harsh – Fortunately for us, Todd and Viola are amazing characters and oh so more stronger than me.
I’ll let you know something : This book is a gem, a real one, but that was painful.
“Cuz she’s out there somewhere. (please be out there somewhere) (please be okay) (please)”
I’ve said my heart ached for Todd in The Knife of Never Letting Go? Scratch that : It just broke in this one. All over again. I sure can’t say that I agreed with all the choices he made. It’d be far from the true – some of his actions are really unforgivable (view spoiler)[one word : 1017 (hide spoiler)]. But, you know, Patrick Ness is such a genius – yes, because I know that the talent (or the lack of) of a writer plays a large part in our feelings towards the characters – that even if I hated Todd sometimes, I couldn’t help but love him. Something fierce. Whatever it takes.
That’s the all point, huh?
You could think that this sentence, “Love is stronger than anything” is a pious platitude. You’d be right. I mean, we all know how this sentence is often used in romance novels to, you know, try to hide the lack of plot?
And yet you’d be so wrong. This book is not a romance. So then? Where does it lead us?
To a wonderful book about choices. The choices we make and why we make them and how can we be sure that we’re right?
We just can’t.
Let it be known that I will forever be destroyed by this quote. FOREVER –
“And someone calls, “Murderer!” from across the square.
But of course it can’t be her –
But at least there’s someone. At least there’s someone.”
… Because what are we hoping but for someone to speak up? I want to be that person, and even if I’m not gonna lie, it scares me to death, I sure hope I would be, because what’s the point of life if we can witness atrocities and just stand there?
I am in awe of Patrick Ness. His books are brilliant, and I’m already looking forward to reading the next. Because of course there’s a cliffhanger. Again.
Edit 05/29 : I’ve started editing this review, but nothing could express my confusion and emotion more than the few words I wrote straight away. Perhaps it’s for the best that my obsessional perfectionism can’t influence everything. Perhaps sometimes, beautiful sentences and neat organization would be nothing else but a lie.