Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Ask and the Answer

Patrick Ness
The Ask and the Answer

Walker Books, 2009

The first volume of the trilogy ended very unexpected and darkly (and of course, on the most interesting part): Todd and Viola finally reached what they thought saving city of Haven, but there was no rescue, as was the mayor of Prentiss, one, without an army. Haven surrendered without a fight.

The second book starts with the fact that Todd and Viola are separated. Todd now works for mayor, and Viola, recovering after being seriously wounded, remains in a house of healing. House of healing is headed by Mistress Coyle, and she is dissatisfied with the new regime. Earlier mayor and now president, Prentiss again, as once in Prentisstown, separates women from men. Once it has already led to bloodshed, so that Coyle is confident that history may repeat itself again. President Prentiss also speaks to the people, declaring that the war is over and that soon Eden will be implemented, and they only need to wait for arrival of the ship with the new settlers.

If «The Knife of Never Letting Go» is a "horizontal" novel (the characters in it just ran and ran, encountering enemies on the way), then this book is rather a "vertical" novel: there is also quite running, but not on straight and vertical there is related to the power, the novel is primarily about it. Another difference between the two books: «The Ask and the Answer» is much more violent book (because there are almost no jokes), there are far more killings, and if not killings, so cruelly tortures. If in «The Knife» Todd could not kill, in «The Ask» he couldn’t, too, but he is well enough in torture of people: President Prentiss left him no choice.

In the new conditions Todd Hewitt is changing, and Ness is very good shows his evolution. Todd is no longer a boy, he broke down (not for nothing that he himself said: «Inside, I'm dead dead dead»), but he also feels that some force in it matures; and Viola and Prentiss see that power in him.

«The Ask and the Answer» is a like-children book about not quite children things: terror, war, betrayal, cruelty and meanness. The Ask and The Answer in the title are the names of two organizations, Answer - female terrorist, Ask - men's torture. Ness shows here: what is the ask, so is the answer, during the war (for which it has quite a woman's face), there is no good and bad, everything is mixed.
This novel is not a blank filler between the beginning and end, as is usually the case in the trilogy. Bright, stinging, dynamic, very original.

Ask: Is it worth reading? Answer: Well, yes, certainly.

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