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Chaos Walking #2

The Ask and the Answer

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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...

"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.

536 pages, Hardcover

First published May 4, 2009

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About the author

Patrick Ness

42 books18.2k followers
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for Radio 4 and The Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

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5 stars
41,412 (44%)
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3 stars
13,935 (14%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,224 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
July 7, 2018
okay, so i loved the knife of never letting go but this one was somehow even better.

oh, jeez, i am afraid i am just going to write a gushing fangirl review here. does anyone mind?

i will try to avoid saying anything too specific, because this book is such a gem, i want everyone to sort of discover its folds and depths for themselves.

because there is a great deal of depth up in here.

the action of this book takes place after a colossal thing happens which separates viola and todd. and this book is a split-narrative between the two of them, as they are pursuing their individual paths to selfhood under extreme duress and uncertainty.

vague, right?

but it is so well-handled. ness can actually write! viola and todd sound like two different characters! and fully developed characters with insights and psychologies all their own, at that! and i love them both so much. fangirl squeee!

the scope of the book has widened. the first book starts out as a sort of smalltown pastoral with creepy-dark religious/cultish overtones, while this one expands to re-emphasize the earlier themes of colonialism and clannishness but to build upon those themes with the politics of war and love and betrayal and sacrifice (oh, the sacrifices...) and helplessness and growth and trust and - just all of it, all leading up to the most amazing cliffhanger of tolkien-esque proportions.

it made my head go "aaaahhhhhh!!!"

the best moments in these books are the small revelations, the tiny realizations. not even the big game-changing events, although those are phenomenal. but as viola and todd are separately coached under questionable authority figures, which are shaping their character, but still managing to retain their individual sparks that make them such strong characters, and while trying so hard just to get back to each other - the tiny reveals that pepper this story as they bildungs their roman are genuinely surprising and so devastating. shivery.

because they spend most of this novel apart, this becomes a novel about faith. faith in the beloved other. because while technically not a YA romance, because there isn't any kissing, it has the perfect shape to become one: the first book is spent fighting together towards a common goal, learning each others' strengths and weaknesses, making sacrifices (sob) to protect the Other, comforting each other and never letting the other lose hope or give up.it is a perfect foundation.

this chapter has them apart, developing their own personal codes in the middle of this new situation and creating a sort of armor around themselves to protect themselves from outside influence, to keep the faith in the other safe until they can be together again. which adds the layer of independence so fundamental to a successful romance. none of this twilight self-sacrifice twaddle.

it's just gorgeous. i hate the things that happen to todd throughout, as he struggles to balance his humanity while giving up portions of it just to stay alive. and although viola's situation seems less dangerous on the surface, it is only more adroitly manipulated, and so her ultimate realization/betrayal is even more powerful for it.


there is too much in this book and it is all in my heart.

i am trying to read the third book really slowly so i never have to leave this world.

there are probably more useful reviews out there. this is just be babbling. don't let me slow you down on your path to this book - go now!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
January 27, 2019
This stunning sequel to The Knife Of Never Letting Go manages to measure up to its predecessor in a way I never thought possible. After reading the first book, I felt sure that Ness would be incapable of delivering something equally brilliant. But he did.

This is an even more important book than part one, though admittedly not quite as fast-paced. It deals with feminism, terrorism, war and genocide. The alternating narrative works well and develops the reader's bond with the character of Viola. For me, it was an even darker novel than the first book, with Ness sparing no details on the violence and torture undergone by those suspected of being members of the Answer.

It's a very shocking story and it questions what makes a person 'good' and whether an individual is solely responsible for their actions or if society and social factors can be blamed. Ness openly tackles the possibility of redemption in the most dire cases and he carefully blurs the lines between hero and villain.

Is it okay to sacrifice one innocent person for the greater good? How about a thousand? Is terrorism a crime or a fight for freedom? The answers you think you have now may not be so easily applied when reading the book. It may make you question all that you've ever believed in.

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Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,118 followers
April 17, 2018
"So, who are you then, Todd Hewitt?" He says. "What makes you so special?" Now that, I think, is a very good asking."

What a crazy ending!
I enjoyed this one a lot more than the first. I was more invested in Todd and Viola's characters, and accustomed to the writing style so I could fully focus on the story. Yay for second books!

So Todd and Viola found their way to Haven only to discover it was not the safe land they were hoping for. Pitted back against Todd's old nemesis Mayor Prentiss, Todd and Viola become separated - each on either side of an ongoing war. One between the people of Haven, calling themselves the Ask and those having escaped Haven and fighting against those in power - The Answer.

This book was full of chilling scenes, including the torture of civilians, namely women. Some of the themes were extremely powerful, sexism, violence, terrorism, to name a few.
The Noise is still rife in this book - yet Mayor Prentiss has chosen to provide 'the cure' to some of his chosen favourites. I'm intrigued to see where Ness will go with the final book. This series seems to redefine genre - with elements of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Dystopia and maybe even horror.

The ending was mad! I've ordered the third book immediately - I need to know what happens!

"We are the choices we make"
Profile Image for Caz (littlebookowl).
302 reviews40.2k followers
March 4, 2015
This was an alright sequel, I didn't love the plot but the ending has left me very curious to see how the trilogy ends! I hope there is lots more action and intensity in the final installment :)
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
852 reviews3,882 followers
February 15, 2021

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 . 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 whole 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.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Claudia Lomelí.
Author 8 books76.8k followers
July 1, 2017
It's 4.5 stars. Not perfect 5 stars because the first part was a little slow and boring for me, but THEN the final chapters were so awesome and full of twists and turns and UGHHH Patrick Ness just loves to kill the characters I like!

Anyway, this book was so much better than the first one! I think that's because we get to know (not really, though) mayor Prentiss. He's one of the best villains EVER.

Also, I ship Todd and Viola so much.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
December 21, 2009
I won't lie, I am really disappointed in and exhausted by this novel. "The Ask and the Answer" is very little like the first book in the trilogy "The Knife of Never Letting Go."

If the first one is a fast-paced chase kind of story, which keeps you hooked by gradual revelation of the New World's mysteries of Noise, Haven, Viola's origin, etc., this book is basically an account of a civil war between Mayor Prentiss's army and the resistance called here the Answer. The book raises various issues of genocide, war ethics, torture, and holding onto one's identity under pressure.

All issues are interesting, but I find myself surprisingly uninterested in them, mainly because in this book I am strangely detached from Todd and Viola. In these tough circumstances they are nothing more than naive petulant children used as pawns in various evil plans. They are described as so strongly attached that they are willing to do almost anything for one another and yet they are so easily led to mistrust each other.This mistrust constantly gets them and people around them in trouble, it's painful to read. I think pretty much in this book you simply can't find even one likable person. Todd is the one I dislike the most at this point. No matter how hard the author tries to make us believe that Todd still holds on to his innocence and thus is better than everybody else, it's pretty hard to swallow when you know what Todd has done for no good reason other than his dear girlfriend left him.

In addition, there are the same plot holes as in the first book. I still don't understand the "specialness" of Todd, there is still a lot of build-up and allusions to various secrets that end up being not that interesting or important.

I have to give Ness some credit for skillfully creating an atmosphere of urgency in his books and showing that nobody is truly innocent in war, but unfortunately, this just isn't enough for me. Gray shades are great in theory, but I would like to see some clearer morality in my books, especially in the books written for young adults. I find that at this point the only side I would want to succeed in the story is Spackle. Not sure if Ness meant it this way though...

Reading challenge: #1 - N.
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
410 reviews918 followers
July 17, 2017
Objectively, this whole series so far has been fabulously written. Really, really skilled author.
Objectively, the book deserves five stars.

But... I'm only human, and subjectively I wanted to rip this book apart and then burn the shreds because it both makes me furious and scares me to death. Chaos Walking is the kind of story where every character is evil and corrupted in their own way and you're at a loss for someone to like/support. To make things worse, the main characters are children thrust into and twisted by a cruel world, driven to horrible acts by horrible circumstances. Through Ness' unique writing style, the reader can follow along right in Todd's head, and it all feels a little to close and real for comfort.

This series really shook me, and I think I need a little time before I can finish the last installment.
Profile Image for Regan.
457 reviews110k followers
June 9, 2023
Patrick Ness's writing is a thing of magic. He aptly portrayed the horrors of civil war on both sides, and how war has no clear "good guy" and "bad guy". The psychological aspect of this book is intense, being in the minds of both Viola and Todd as they try to pave a path for themselves in the hell that surronds them is both riveting and humbling.
Profile Image for Sylvie .
686 reviews962 followers
February 23, 2019
One taught me love, one taught me patience, one taught me pain.
These books are only teaching me PAIN and STRESS
Profile Image for Amanda.
282 reviews313 followers
July 7, 2013
**Some spoilers for those who have not read the first book**

I just wrote an exhausting review of this novel, but Goodreads screwed me and lost the entire thing. Pissed does not even begin to cover what I feel right now. All of that brilliance, now lost to the cyberspace void forever.

I didn't so much read the first book in this series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, as inhaled it. Original and disturbing, Ness is not afraid to take some risks as he tells the story of Todd Hewitt, a boy about to become a man in Prentisstown--a town inhabited only by men. As we read, we find out that Todd lives on a colony planet so distant from Earth that it takes decades to get there. Upon arrival, the first colonists went to war with the indigenous inhabitants, the Spackle. In a desperate effort to defeat the invaders, the Spackle release a germ that kills all of the women. The men survive, but with a strange side-effect: they can hear each other's internal monologue. At least this is the story Todd was always told, but when he discovers a real girl in the swamp Todd is forced to flee for his life and learns that everything he thought was true is a lie.

The Ask and the Answer picks up where The Knife of Never Letting Go left off. Todd and Viola, whose uneasy truce forged a devoted friendship, are separated when Mayor Prentiss (the antagonist from the first novel) names himself President, quarantines the women from the men, and establishes martial law in New Prentisstown. As Mayor Prentiss exerts his power, a female rebel force known as the Answer rises against him, and Viola finds herself swept up by their cause. Meanwhile, Todd is forced to do President Prentiss's bidding in order to keep Viola safe. He's put in charge of managing the enslaved Spackle workforce being used to build the New Prentisstown envisioned by the President.

What is so fascinating about the novel is how Ness explores the brainwashing and mind games employed by each side as they use Viola and Todd as expendable pawns in their quest for victory. Viola struggles with the terroristic tactics used by the Answer against innocent civilians in the name of their cause, while Todd is forced to face his shame in killing a Spackle in the first novel as he witnesses the dehumanizing treatment of the thinking and feeling alien race. As Viola and Todd try to navigate the labyrinthine truths, loyalties, and beliefs that are relics from a war that occurred before either of them were born, they begin to question themselves and their trust in each other. This psychological complexity is heightened by the fact that the reader still isn’t sure who the bad guys and who the good guys are—if, in fact, there are any good guys. There are no easy answers and Ness forces readers to think through the complex issues of war, justifiable violence, and racism.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,383 followers
October 25, 2018
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“In this world of numbness and information overload, the ability to feel, my boy, is a rare gift indeed.”

🌟 Yay, I was exactly the 60,000th thousand person to rate this!!

I guess you know the drill by this point, I usually compare the second book in a series with the first and see what improved and what didn’t.

🌟 I didn’t know what to expect after the ending of book 1 so my Ask was if I will enjoy this as much and the Answer is apparently yes, it was a very good book.

🌟 The writing is as good as book 1. These books are large (500-650 Pages) but the good news is that they feel like 300-400 pages instead. Patrick’s writing is easy to follow, full of suspense and can be poetic at the same time.

“We are the choices we make. And have to make. We aren’t anything else.”

🌟 The Pacing in book 1 was faster which is always a plus for me, the pace here is slower but not too slow so it is still enjoyable.

🌟 There weren’t many new characters but the characters we know developed and I expected the change in some characters which was awesome and devil!

🌟 Every one were talking about the plot twists in this book, I saw most of them before they happened and specially at the ending I was like what if this and that happened, that would be terrific and guess what? It did happen 😀
I liked how this was much darker than book 1 and some of the scenes were graphic so beware, I don’t think it is a suitable book for younger children. I discovered lately that I really love darker reads just because they are more realistic, the real world is not sunshine and flowers!

🌟 The world also expanded and I think we are getting more of it in the next book.

🌟 Summary: The Ask and the Answer was as almost as good as book 1, if you liked book 1 then the series is definitely worth continuing. It was slower paced, darker and more twisted. The story is balanced and I can’t wait to know how it ends.
Profile Image for Heather.
295 reviews13.9k followers
December 20, 2016
Ugh, I just can't do it. This book is contrived and ridiculous. The characters of Todd and Viola have reached a level of stupidity that I didn’t think was possible. I was put off by the first chapter, but continued to read for another 50 pages before I finally chucked it. Enough is enough. I had already ignored my instincts by picking this book up in the first place. Having read and been let down by book one, I was hoping that Ness would redeem himself. But alas, no such luck. Not only has Ness failed to create likable characters, he has massacred any redeeming quality in Todd or Viola in order to create a plot for his series. He should have left well enough alone, and ended this story in The Knife of Letting Go. I detest authors who rely on character idiocy to move their plot forward almost as much as I loath this book. If you aren't looking for any type of rhyme or reason, just itching for someone to get beat or killed, then by all means, read on, otherwise, read at your own peril.

Profile Image for Izzy.
139 reviews33 followers
February 22, 2012
“So who are you then, Todd Hewitt? What makes you so special?”
Where to start, where to start? In that first chapter, I was just so proud of you Todd. I feel like we’ve come a long way and it just never stops for you does it?

But seriously, where to start? I thought the last book was good. This one is better. Like, sell your aunt and your soul to the devil kind of good. It's just so full of stuff.

First off, despite my many attempts, I could never guess what would happen. When I gave up trying and just went with it, it was still like running into a brick wall with your eyes closed. You knew it was somewhere but you didn't know where. In fact it was like running into MULTIPLE brick walls.

The characters were even better than before. Not only do we get to hear from Viola's point of view (who is better than I could've hoped for) but all the characters are well developed and waaaay too realistic. I also developed some weird emotions for Davy Prentiss- seriously, right from the start. I just wanted to hug him though he was such an ass. But most of all, Todd. Sweet Todd. You scared me Todd. I got wrinkles from you Todd. DON'T DO THAT TO ME AGAIN TODD!

I'm sort of speechless. And still, after everything... I miss Manchee. Angharrad was sweet but if anything it made me miss Manchee even more. Poo? Todd? Poo? Manchee would've stopped this from happening. He was a bloody good dog.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,065 reviews1,476 followers
May 10, 2021
This is the second book in the Chaos Walking series.

This delivered everything I hoped it would and a million things more. I felt genuine sorrow for all those individuals who read the first book as it was released and had to wait a whole year until this was published. Ness is the king of the cliffhanger! Honestly, he is as sublime a writer as he is a cruel one, and the pain, anxiety, and anguish I felt whilst reading this was only offset by the beauty and grace of the penmanship. I am so glad I had all three books to hand, as I waited approximately one nanosecond between finishing the first book and taking a sneap peek at chapter one of the second.

This book was completely and utterly unputdownable and, if possible, I loved it even more than the first. Ness gave the reader everything - every breadth of emotion, beautifully crafted writing, extensive and original world building, corporeal characterization, legions of plot, and action, action, action for days! He has already proven himself such a brilliant story-teller that I expected nothing less but was still blown away!

The book opened in the midst of the action of the end of the first book, plunging you straight back into the depths of the plot. Without skipping a beat I was there, living and grieving and loving alongside my beloved main characters, Todd and Viola.

If anything, this book had a more poignant edge to it. I felt heartbreak one hundred times over in The Knife of Never Letting Go but here it was intensified. I could previously isolate Todd and Viola's stories and remove myself from their plight when I got too involved but, with the addition of the Spackle (the indigenous species to the New World that the humans raged war with and later enslaved) it all just felt too real. The colonization of the planet and the hateful treatment and enslavement of the native Spackles felt so horribly, historically accurate that I couldn't switch my emotions off. I felt somewhat responsible whilst reading this and almost ashamed to belong to the hate-fuelled, discriminatory and domineering human species. It was heartbreaking to read, yet accurate. In short, reading this made my heart hurt. And by that I mean that the writer did a good job.

The explored themes of colonization, war, gender divides, power, coming-of-age and the good/bad binary, which all ensured this a book where you got to learn whilst you read and where you got to know yourself and your stance on these issues, too.

There wasn't a pain-free moment as the lines between good and bad were continually blurred, erased, and altered, which made my empathy and the pain I felt equal for all. I am still not sure there even is a definite good and bad side. There are just sides. Both sides have a cause. Both sides have experienced pain and anger and heartbreak. Both sides have inflicted pain and anger and heartbreak. Both side is justified. Yet, neither side is justified. How is the reader supposed to know who to fight for if the characters don't know their own hearts? I guess I am just going to have to continue with book three and find out.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
943 reviews14k followers
August 3, 2017
This series is just turning out to be rather "meh" for me, and that's totally not a bad thing, I just can't describe it better. It's not bad. I really have no problems with the characters or writing or plot, but at the same time, it isn't the absolutely coolest and best thing i've read. It's fast and unique and the writing is cool, but I don't necessarily find myself connected to the story or the people. It's fun to read when you're doing it, but I wouldn't consider this series one of my favorites. It's very hard to describe my feelings for this book because right now i'm just feelin meh about it. And now i'm in the mood to grab something more exciting lol.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,597 followers
July 13, 2017
*** 2.75 ***

A buddy with my friends at the MacHalos, because we obviously hate ourselves...

I am not going to write a real review for this one, because if it continues in the same vain, I will have to repeat myself when I finish the third and last book in the series. I am just frustrated...

Usually, when I read dystopian YA of substance, I am full of emotions which propel me to inspiration, and I have no problems putting them down in a review. Usually most of those feelings are positive. And just as always, I try to balance my personal feelings with objective overview of the qualities of writing, plot, storytelling and so on... But sometimes, like right now, my emotions let me down and my objectivity starts failing...

I feel like with the exception of couple of books, in the last couple of weeks I have fallen into a well of depression, dispair, and unlikable characters, and there is no one to throw me a line to drag myself out of it... I am becoming convinced that there is a wave of writers who have decided that having a great style and flawless control of their craft, they are going to use it to depress their readers. The do that by barraging them with slightly veiled truths of historical and contemporary human mistakes and failures, putting them in made up worlds, dressing them up as fables, and condensing them into powerful concentrates, serving them usually as trilogies, every one of them chipping away at our faith in humanity... All are good but also bad, all are apathetic, all are easily thrown out of balance, and everything goes as long as survival is guaranteed, to hell with higher values, dignity and beliefs! Those are the first victims of the battle for survival...

Once again an obviously talented author is putting his talent to work at convincing us that personal feelings of love, selfish desire to be with the one you love no matter how many people would be sacrificed for it, come before the lives of others. As long as you get what you want, the world can burn... I wonder, is that what those authors see when they look into the world around them? Do their work give the readers a justification for their sense of entitlement? Or is it an attempt at a cautionary tale gone wrong? I am not sure anymore, and honestly, I am to tired of negativity with no true promise of redemption to care. ...

I am so saddened that we had to witness the complete deconstruction and degradation of couple of promising characters... At the moment I feel contempt​ for the two "protagonists", hatred for most of the adults, and dejection with the human character. Weaknesses, gullibility, stupidity, willing complicity, enslavement, greed, strive for power... Kill less you get killed, never leave an enemy alive or they will come back to haunt you... Never mind that the label of "enemy" could be put on anyone who happens to disagree with you... I get it! We are all horrible people and we do bad things despite wanting to be good, although obviously we have no idea what being good means! I hear it loud and clear! You guys have pounded it over and over into our brains. Now, WHAT SHOULD ALL OF US DO ABOUT IT? What do YOU want us to come away with after reading your work. What is the point? It is not entertaining, so we can say we spend some fun times with the book, it is not "enjoyable", since there is not an ounce of joy in the whole series, at least not for now. Should we feel good for coming out of it disillusioned and depressed, angry and frustrated??? If that is the goal, congratulations! You have succeeded! Has it become impossible to write something dystopian but still convey a sense of honor and a spark of hope? I know that is not true and this is why I reach for the next book in the series. Because I have hope that there will be some light in the end of the tunnel and a gifted storyteller like Mr. P. Ness will not waste his and our time with books aimed at bringing us down. Reality does a good enough job at doing just that, and this is why we look for inspiration and emotional guidance in books....

I am disappointed with this book, but I am invested enough to want to read the finale. I hope it is as good as all those great reviews make it out to be!

Now I wish you all to find a book that makes you feel HAPPY! We all need it🙂🙂🙂...
Profile Image for Rachel Hartman.
Author 15 books3,839 followers
February 26, 2012
Most of the things I had issues with in the first book aren't a factor here, except for one. And it's kind of a big one. I'm going to have to meditate upon this for a time before I can write a proper review. Over all, though, I liked this one much better. Ness does relentlessly horrible like nobody else, and I say that with all the love and respect in the world.


AVAST, YE SCURVY DOGS, THAR WILL BE SPOILERS! Yaaarrr! I don't know why I hate the Global Spoiler Warning, I just do. If we had the option to dance a spoiler hornpipe instead, I would take it. I encourage you to imagine me leaping about piratically for a few moments. SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, yo HO!

If that didn't scare you off, there's really nothing I can do for you.


I loved this book. Loved it really hard. If you will recall my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go, I loved that book a lot, too. I also hated it, and the result was the most passionate three stars I've ever given a book.

Many of my problems with the first book do not occur here. No dogs are killed (BOOHOOHOO! MANCHEE!)(I will never get over that! Never!). The narrative is in first person present tense again, but there are two narrators. Viola's voice is a bit more articulate, which is kind of a relief, but more importantly, they're not keeping secrets from the reader. That was my very biggest beef before, that Todd was learning things in real time and magically having the ability to conceal that from the reader. That struck me as cheating.

I was irritated with the crazy, indestructible Aaron before. One could argue that Mayor Prentiss is both of those things - his ability to wriggle out of tight places is a bit uncanny, and yes, he's not what most of us would consider entirely sane. Even so, I found him much more subtle and sophisticated than Aaron and understandable to a degree Aaron simply was not.

Best of all, however, is the fact that the Mayor isn't the only evil. There are others, and every single one is ambiguous. Every single one of them raises interesting philosophical questions. Does fighting against an evil necessarily mean you're good? Are there necessary evils? Where is the line between freedom fighting and terrorism? Why show mercy to the oppressed if they're not grateful? To what extent is any individual expendable? To what extent is caring a weakness? How can you control people through manipulation of information, and how can an individual fight back against that?

That's the part of the book I loved, this exploration of war and what it was doing to everyone. I don't think I've ever read a book that dug into both sides in quite this way, showing the psychic cost, how things escalate, how war takes on a life of its own that nobody can control. It was brilliant and horrifying.

It was the end that knocked off a star, for me. Because there it was again, staring me right in the face, this notion of Todd as somehow "innocent" and "not a killer".

HE KILLED A SPACKLE IN THE FIRST BOOK. I had a problem with it in THAT book, and here it is again. Todd can't kill! Um, gee, yes he DID.

That, to me, sent the ending completely off the rails. I thought Viola forgave him too easily. I thought the psychology and explanation of him retaining his ability to feel things all through the horrors (when he turned his emotions OFF? I couldn't wrap my brain around that contradiction), the assertion that this somehow made him "innocent" where the others were monsters... that just didn't add up to me.

Here's where I wish I had the book in front of me, and where I'm just going to have to come back later and explain things better. There were two quotes that really stood out as thesis statements, as if the whole book were some kind of geometric proof, a+b+c ergo CONCLUSION. And it didn't add up for me. The thesis statements were great -- one about love being a strength instead of a weakness, one about living in a world of information overload and how do you decide what's important. They were beautiful. They just weren't the answer to the equation I felt had been set up in the text.

I think Todd and Viola would both have come out of this a lot more damaged than they seem to be. I get that they love each other; I get that he's trying to say something about how powerful love is (I suspect Davy Prentiss is able to do good in the end because he loves Todd, even though it's never spelled out exactly). Yes, love is powerful. But hurt is also powerful, and I can't quite accept that they're able to forgive each other and be quite that unshakeably bonded after all that they've been through.

I'm still going to read the next one, though. And again: there was a lot to love in this. A lot of horrible, painful, well-done stuff to love. Whether you find the ending completely psychologically believable or not, there's a lot to think about in this book, and that's really what I'm in it for.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews707 followers
December 4, 2010
I imagine Viola, reluctant healer, the worst in fact, bumbling around; Todd working, slaving away. And I imagine their growing closeness despite everything that’s going on around them; despite the forced physical distance between them.

This book is a such a visceral experience. And it's more. I read it and I see everything in my mind’s eye. Not stills; I have a movie playing in my head. I sort of gag when I think of the stench from the Spackles’ corner in the morning. I can almost catch a whiff of smoke after all those bombs go off. I can imagine how sticky the blood must be when Viola’s mends someone’s wounds. I tear up when I think of how they both feel: betrayed, abandoned, alone… And I try to wrap my mind around what the Noise must be like, or what the President’s scarier, controlled Noise must be like.

But I am not imagining how upset I am at the turn of events. I really do choke up a bit at where the two end up. And I’m left feeling so many, many things: angry, sad, confused, a bit more sad, and whole lot more angry. No sophomore slump here. None.

As Todd would say, it is effing amazing (and I didn't really say effing either.)

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,108 followers
February 10, 2017
Stockholm Syndrome, anyone?

The Mayor has the upper hand and a stronger mind than anyone. I feel sorry for Tod and Viola for the most part, and the telepathy angle is growing a bit more interesting, but it's really the descent into evil that captures most of my imagination.

As it should, I'm sure. This dystopian SF was designed for the YA crowd and while it is very decent for what it is, the plot is not quite as strong as the characterizations and the world building is kinda lacking.

If you're looking for answers, look elsewhere. The Answer is just the rebels made up of mostly women. The question, at least in my mind, is what causes men to turn into cattle, whether it's the mayor turning otherwise intelligent people into subservients or what really happened to all the others that are literally being kept in pens.

Lots of emotions flying about everywhere and I feel like I should be feeling a lot of pathos for the MC's, but unfortunately, I'm either in the wrong place to enjoy this or it just kinda feels a bit average. Perhaps I'm just getting tired of reading the same kinds of stories in certain markets. Maybe it's just a little too simple for my tastes. This is kind of a disappointment from the previous book in the series. *sigh*
Profile Image for Denisse.
499 reviews289 followers
March 14, 2016
4.5 The writing style is so powerful, something about those half sentences just give me the chills. The ask and the answer is a very complete sequel, with more layers and feelings than its predecessor if that’s possible. It is. Not as fast paced or action packed like The Knife but with way more material and exposition to what is the main plot line in this book; war and sides; society and decisions; love and friendship; good and evil…and everything in between. With excellent character development and self-trust in the story. A YA like the ones we don’t see anymore this days. The Ask and the Answer is a complete success and the perfect door to the big finale.

"I was only following orders"....The refuge of scoundrels since the dawn of time.

Si eres fan del YA que esperas para leer esta trilogía? No, enserio, a que esperas? Porque déjenme les digo que un YA que trate con tanto respeto, fuerza e inteligencia a sus lectores jóvenes no lo encuentras en cada esquina de GR.

Esta trilogía tiene mucha profundidad pero esta escrita con truco, asi que seria muy fácil leerla por encimita. Les recomiendo que se tomen su tiempo a procesar lo que tienen en frente, ya que el autor no se toma la molestia en sobre-explicar las situaciones delicadas.

Patrick Ness expone tan bien la guerra y como reaccionan a ella los hombres en conflicto, que llega a parecerte un libro adulto en ciertos momentos. Y asi como Todd, terminas dándote cuenta que muchas cosas no son como creías y conforme el va madurando tu vas abriendo mas los ojos ante el mundo que lo rodea.

Otra gran cuestión es la división de sexos. Es algo que ya teníamos desde el otro libro pero aquí se refuerza bastante, lo fácil que es dividirnos por el simple hecho de ser hombres o mujeres. Y como nuestras diferencias la gran mayoría del tiempo si juegan en nuestra contra.

Las acciones de nuestros protagonistas, Todd y Viola, se ven influenciadas no solo por sus propias convicciones si no por la situación en general, dándonos cuenta que realmente no puedes describir a alguien con las palabras “buena persona” o “mala persona” y que el resto de la gente y el ambiente en el que vivimos toman gran parte en nuestra toma de decisiones y nos llevan a traicionarnos a nosotros mismo la gran mayoría de las veces.

Un libro que te grita su trama, te grita a sus personajes y te grita su final. Y no podrás evitar hacerle caso.
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
871 reviews361 followers
March 21, 2021
2 STARS★★✩✩✩
This book is for you if… you tend to listen to the majority of reviews instead of a distinguished few.

Honestly, Patrick was browsing through a selection of books with second book syndrome to find inspiration for this. UGH. Waste of time.

The whole plot seemed rather exaggerated and abstract. Some concepts (the ask and the answer) were too vague for me to be a source of excitement rather than detached confusion. I get that you need to set yourself apart from all the other dystopian novels out there. It's hard to create something that's still gonna hit it home for your target group if they've been overstimulated for years. Going bat shit crazy on a plot is not going to help with that, though.

It's also questionable whether the book couldn't have been cut in half instead of making it unnecessarily long. (To be fair, ever since I started working full time I've been questioning the purpose of long books on a regular basis.)

To conclude, it's probably a it's not you it's me sorta thing. Patrick did create quite a special world with Chaos Walking and maybe that's just not my vibe. I finished this book 1.5 months ago and I'm still mad I wasted time on this. So It's not me. It's you, Patrick. Just you.>
2 STARS. Definitely a disappointment. It might not even have been worth finishing for a variety of reasons.
Profile Image for Ayesha {Heir of Bookdom}.
237 reviews310 followers
September 18, 2018
“Faith with proof is no faith at all.”

Oh God, this book. Where do I even begin?

Well firstly, this book was not as fast-paced as its prequel. At least the first three quarters were slow, and concentrated on world building and character development. But was it just as amazing? HELL YEAH. This book was realistic and heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

This book ingrained the love I had for The Knife of Never Letting Go. It made me even more invested in the plot line and the characters. The way this author writes is addictive and almost inhumanly brutal and beautiful. Undoubtedly one of my favorite books of all time.

Chaos Walking is the perfect name for this series, as its just one tragedy after the next. I was afraid that after such a stunning first novel, the author may not be able to keep it up. But boy did Patrick Ness, prove me wrong. With just one book to go, I have no clue how this will end, but I can't wait to find out!
Profile Image for Bea.
196 reviews108 followers
May 26, 2019
(re-read - May 2019)

I forgot just how shocking this book is and how many plot twists Ness manages to fit in a single book. Usually the second book in a series suffers from the second book syndrome where it's the worst in the series but by far, this one is absolutely the best. If you haven't read this series yet please try it!


(1st read - June 2017)

Favourite book in this series!
After reading Patrick Ness' More than this, (my favourite book of his) The rest of us just live here, and a monster calls (least favourite) I decided that it was time for Chaos Walking as I had mixed feelings about this authors books. (however still being one of my most enjoyable authors to read of all time.) I am writing this after finishing the whole series and it just blew me away how attached you get to a character and how much you hate others. (Love it in a book, you're not meant to like everyone.)
After Davy's death killed by his own sadistic father I knew this was going places I couldn't imagine. Davy, I think, will always be my favourite character in this series with the reader most likely hating him at first (including me) but then actually crying when he is killed off just because his father wanted to prove a point. The character development is great, storyline is engaging, plot twists AWESOME and the cliffhanger at the end of each book makes you wish instantly for more.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Priscilla.
146 reviews9,677 followers
May 27, 2011
Seriously. One of THE best series I've read...and I'm not even done reading it yet. Why are you so awesome Patrick Ness?

First thoughts:

1) Love Todd.
2) Love Viola.
3) Love Todd and Viola.
4) The writing style is AMAZING.
5) Fully developed characters, plot, and concepts.

Check out my full video review here!
Profile Image for PopiTonja.
97 reviews11 followers
February 7, 2017
Na prvih nekoliko strana zavrsava se zapoceta akcija iz prvog dela i onda dolazi do blagog zamora u radnji. Neko vreme skoro da se nista i ne desava.
Druga polovina je ponovo odlicna. Sve se ponovo zahuhtava, vraca se tempo iz prve knjige.
Da imam Buku u njoj bi se samo provlacilo:
Ma daj! Ne verujem! O neee! Kako, zasto? Smrc...
Onaj gubitak na kraju mi je bas tesko pao.
Druga polovina knjige je toliko dobra da oduva onaj utisak dosade sa pocetka.
Ne mogu ni da pretpostavim sta me ceka u trecem delu. Neko ludilo je sigurno.
Profile Image for Ivan.
436 reviews284 followers
May 18, 2017
Even better than first book but lot darker one with more twists and turns.

Ask and answer deals with more mature issues like slavery, terrorism and feminism as line between good and bad side blurs. But this isn't philosophical book and morality questions aren't showed in your face, instead they are knitted organically into story and setting of this incredible YA adventure. Maybe after intense book my brain short circuited but premise reminds me of first Black company book where we know who are good and bad side from start but in their methods they come dangerously close each other (sadly Black company loses part of it's moral ambiguity with each book).

We see growth in every character. During first book I couldn't help but to think of Viola and Tod as single entity but here we get to see them separated and Viola gets her PoV so we see them develop as characters individually. Mayor (now president) Prentiss evolve from plain bad guy in first book into more subtle manipulator. Davy Prentiss is also no longer Joffrey under different name, we get to see him as person. Not particularly good person but real person nonetheless.

Since among YA writers Ness is king of small and subtle things we again have one of highlight of the book in background. Tod's (however limited) relationship with 1017 and other Spackles as it evolves through book is one of high points.
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews945 followers
May 12, 2020

You have been warned.

Initial Final Page Thoughts.

High Point.
THE RETURN OF TODD. Seriously, I missed him in like the two days between finished the first one and starting this one. Mayor ....President Prentiss. VIOLA! The Answer. Sympathy for the devil. Welcome to the dark side. Mmm, I love the smell of a love triangle in dystopia. The Holy Trinity- Oppression, Betrayal and Friendship. I am the Circle and the Circle is Me. CREEPY. Also.. the ending… Holy moly.

Low Point.
OK, it’s no secret how much I love this series, so I’m not even going to pretend these low points are actually serious. These books just seem to be getting better and better and I am soooo excited for the final one. So, I’m scraping at the bottom of the barrel here… STOP WITH THE CLIFF HANGER, YOU’RE KILLING ME, NESS! And yeah ok, Angharrad was kind of cute… but she’s no Manchee *sniff* so, don't even try. See, clutching at straws here.

Hero/Heroine/Best Friend annnnnd LOVE INTEREST.
One of the things I loved the most about this book was the dual narrative because we finally got to see things from Viola’s perspective. Her chapters are articulate, educated, compassionate and they confirmed my suspicions from the first book… she really is as cute as a button.
I loved that Ness chose to show us Viola because her story and development into main character allowed her to come out of Todd’s shadow and I felt her thoughts and, most importantly, actions really added to the whole message of the book.
It’s so difficult to write about this series without spoiling it and I really don’t want to do that because if you haven’t read it before- it’s amazing reading it and being permanently on edge because you really don’t know what is coming when Ness is behind the wheel. But Viola’s perspective was brilliant and I’m glad she no longer had to be supporting role.
Which leads me nicely to my main man.
I’m so glad that Ness kept him as he was in the first book, because it would have been so easy to turn him into this huge, unrealistic macho guy. I love that Todd is real, he’s just a kid, he’s in a world that he doesn’t understand, he’s at a loss as to what to do… but he never complains. And I’m glad Ness kept this kind of… innocence about him, but also developed him and allowed him to grow as a character.
This book added a lot of depth to Todd without being too overwhelming and I think the situations Todd is placed in (in true Nessian form… CRAZY ONES) allow Ness to blur the lines of what actually is evil, which is one of the major themes of this series. And it is this whole study of moral ambiguity that I find so fascinating about this series and that makes it stand so far apart from a lot of YA series that I have read for a while.
OK, now to the love… my suspicions from the first one are still very much there… if not more. Even though Viola and Todd spend half the book apart you can tell they are still in friends-against-all-odds mode and it’s a great place to be. Especially because they are so young… but I still think something could change.
Unless LEE gets involved. Argh. My loyalties were stretched with this one because Viola turns into such a girl when she’s with him (“I laughed, too hard.”)
But hot damn, I was a fan of Lee.
I JUST DON’T KNOW. I hope MoM will go back to this because… arrrgh. I’ll say no more.
Except...holy moly, unexpected friendships (one of the best parts of this books… so beautiful and nearly moved me, no-soul-Jo, to tears) and unlikely alliances!

ARGH I can’t even begin to fathom this subject. But… Ness is the master at making you question everything you’ve ever believed in. EVER. OK, maybe not. But…. The lines are blurred, man. They are blurred.

Theme Tunes.

The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash
I am loving the jaunty juxtaposition between deep lyrics and the upbeat tempo when it comes to Ness, aren’t I?
But Johnny Cash’s masterpiece really captures the tone of the book, the issues that are touched upon and THE ENDING. Creepycreepyapocalypsenow….butminusthefatmentalmarlonbrandoanddancinglawrencefishburne.

And now for something that has never been done before..
I have chosen another song for this book. Because I couldn’t choose between the two of them. This song doesn’t actually have anything to do with the book… except the last couple of chapters… and THE ENDING. (I feel it needs capitals, OK?!)

Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones.

Angst Scale.
9/10. I kind of wanted this to be higher than The Knife of Never Letting Go, which I also gave a 9, because Ness really pumped up his game (that’s not even an expression… see what this book does to me?!) with this one and it is a lot more complex and deeper than the first book. With the perspective of Viola, the subject matter, the ambiguous baddies, the journey of Todd, the unexpected friendships (which was soo heartbreaking) and THE ENDING, this book has a higher angst factor than the first. But it never goes into whiny mode, which is strange because I think Viola and Todd are the only two characters in YA fiction I would be OK with if they just had a whole chapter that they just whinged… because, seriously, they deserve it. I don’t want to give it a 10… because I’m guessing (and secretly hoping) that Monsters of Men will steal that title and rip out my heart. Don’t let me down, Ness.

Recommended For.

People who have read the first one, obviously… it would not make ANY sense if you haven’t read the first one. This is really difficult… because I don’t want to spoil anything. So I’ll give you two: People who love it when sisters do it for themselves. People who were thinking that it was being a bit quiet and were on tenderhooks because they just knew that something horrifying was about to happen. AND, BOY, DOES IT.

I’M SO EXCITED FOR THE FINAL BOOK. I really hope Ness doesn’t pull a Mockingjay and ruin my life*.

*slight exaggeration. **

**Actually no, a part of my soul did die with that book.

Profile Image for Gus .
84 reviews1,656 followers
August 7, 2017
Llegará el día en que Patrick Ness me decepcione?
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