Home       About Me       Review Archive

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #2 and #3) by Patrick Ness



Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published: September 8, 2009/September 28, 2010
Pages: 519/603
Source: Bought
Rating: 6 STARS


The Ask and the Answer:
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...

Monsters of Men:
"War," says the Mayor. "At last." Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on destroying the others. Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no chance of escape. As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the fighting? How can there ever be peace when they're so hopelessly outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices await? But then a third voice breaks into the battle, one bent on revenge.


In short: The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness are emotionally taxing reads, but the payoff is so worth it - beautifully written, tremendously complex in plot, and powerfully inspiring in message.
I've decided to combine my reviews for the second and third book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy (The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men) because I realized there was so little I could tell you without revealing some major aspects of the plot. If that isn't a testament to how dynamic and surprising the plot of these final two books is, than I don't know what is.

One of the most fascinating aspects of The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men is the introduction of some very complex politics and character dynamics. A Mockingjay-esque situation is introduced in which there are two power-hungry leaders on opposing sides, one of them acting under the guise of the "good guy". The character complexities are so well done that in the span of chapters, I would change my mind about the alleged goodness and badness of these characters and then back again. Who is the relative good guy in this situation? Who is really telling the truth? Who should Todd trust?

The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men take a decidedly darker turn in the story (and anyone who's read The Knife of Never Letting Go knows that it wasn't exactly a light read either). War, genocide, and torture are major themes in these last two books making for a heavy, emotional read. It took me quite a long to make it through them - not only because of the mammoth page numbers - but also because of the depth of the subject matter.

Ultimately though, despite the seemingly helpless situation, there is one thing that is always present in The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men that keeps you reading - hope. It would've been difficult to make it through these books without the promise of a happy ending. There was hope that peace would win out in the end. There was hope in one of the most inspiring and powerful romances I have ever read. And there was hope that Todd would never completely compromise his morality in situations when almost every other character did. He is, after all, The Boy Who Can't Kill.

Read this series.

Previously, my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Other Reviews:
All of Everything
Tahleen's Mixed Up Files
Teen Readers' Diary

Author Links:
Website
Twitter

22 comments :

  1. Your reading prowess never ceases to amazing me, Aylee. You always tackle the hard-hitting stories that would make others (points to self) cower.

    Your review of the first book was enough to convince me, but then you let me know that even in a gritty world such as Todd's there is still a powerful romance, and that did me in. Yes, I'll read it. And I'll make sure to have my security blanket nearby. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I tackle them because I like them! I also like easy, light reads, but I can honestly say that I like this type of thing, that is heavy and that makes you think, a whole lot more. I feel challenged, you know?

      Haha, I knew at some point in my review of this trilogy I should mention that there is some romance (if a little MG rated) because I know that's important to the enjoyment of a novel for a lot of people. Definitely one of my favourite of all time, but I know some people might find it not as prominent as they would like it (there isn't even a kiss until the last quarter of the last book).

      Delete
  2. I'm so excited to read these two!! I just got The Ask and the Answer. I'm interested to see this series get even darker! Amazing review, thanks for that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good, glad to hear that you're looking forward to the series getting a bt darker instead of entirely scared away!

      Delete
  3. Hope for me when reading the darker and more intense stories is vital, I have to believe that things will turn out okay for the characters or I just can't make it through. So glad that hope plays a big part in these books, giving a little light in the middle of all the darkness. Awesome reviews Aylee, I really need to read these!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that really is critical. It's very important for me to know that despite all the depressing story, there is an indication that a happy ending is still possible to make it worth a read. Or else it's entirely too sad for me too, I'm afraid.

      Delete
  4. Ahhhhh! You're finished! Which book was your favorite??? Wasn't the character of the Mayor just incredible???? Patrick Ness is a writing genius!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! I think The Knife of Never Letting Go was probably my favourite though they're all pretty close. The Mayor has got to be one of the best villains ever. Half the time, I didn't even think he was all that bad... he seemed so genuine! And especially with the way it ended, I'm still not convinced that he was the great evil that he was made out to be.

      Delete
  5. awesome review! I'm glad you enjoyed the rest of this series. I think I saw the first book available for E-readers on Overdrive so I think I'll finally request it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent! I'm so excited to hear what you think of it!

      Delete
  6. You know, you're very good at tempting me with series I wouldn't try otherwise.
    I already have the Knife of Never Letting Go on my list!And I'm going to have to add these ones!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh, thanks :) I would say give The Knife a go, and if you liked that one and also take into consideration that the next two are darker and you're okay with that, then continue with the next two. Warning though: it might be hard to NOT continue because of the major cliffhanger The Knife ends with.

      Delete
  7. I don't know if I would really enjoy these books, but at the same time, I am intrigued by the idea of an emotional challenge. And it's nice to read something dark when so much of what I read feels a little flimsy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will admit that these books are certainly not for everyone... but I do strongly urge people to go outside their comfort zone to try it out at least. You may be surprised!

      Delete
  8. Wow! These books always sound so fascinating, and seem like they have great characters/storylines. I'll have to check out the first book,

    Thanks for the wonderful review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are fascinating! Truly unique. I hope you enjoy it!!

      Delete
  9. I'm in love with this series, and your review was perfect. You really nailed how tough it is to figure out who to trust, and that feeling of hope that still remains :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you so much! That means a lot to hear that. So glad you felt the same way!

      Delete