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The Ask and the Answer
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About the Author

Patrick Ness is the author of The Knife of Never Letting Go, Book One of the Chaos Walking trilogy, which won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Bootrust Teenage Prize. He has written two other books for adults and is a literary critic for the Guardian. He lives in London.

Reviews

Gr 9 Up-Todd Hewitt, 13, is locked in a tower in New Prentisstown, a space colony, and separated from Viola, after the dramatic cliff-hanger in The Knife of Never Letting Go (Candlewick, 2008). Tracked down by the manipulative mayor of the all-male community he escaped, he is unaware that Viola is also under guard and recouping nearby. The noise that clatters through men's minds makes it difficult for Todd to keep any secrets about his intentions to find Viola and accompany her on a mission to contact her people, who are on their way to colonize this unsettled and fractured new world. The previous war, which killed most of the women and made slaves of the aboriginal alien Spackles, has pitted the survivors against one another. The "Answer," comprised of women and a few men who lost daughters and mothers in the war, come to blows with the "Ask," the mayor's group of fundamentalist men and their Spackle slaves. The story breaks into alternating narratives, in different fonts, as Todd is forcefully commissioned into the "Ask" and Viola into the "Answer." Their quest to reunite will keep readers focused on their relationship and moral motivation in this graphically violent and dystopian world. Lacking in this episode are lighter moments shared by Todd and his dog, who has been replaced by a less personable horse. Science fiction lovers will be looking for the next installment in this fast-paced and imaginative series.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

This grim and beautifully written sequel to Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go picks up where its predecessor left off and will have readers racing to its painful conclusion. Having escaped from the dystopian, all-male Prentisstown, teenagers Todd and Viola have fled to the city of Haven, only to discover that Prentisstown's mayor, a powerful and charismatic sociopath, has gotten there first, intent on controlling the entire planet. Separated, the friends are caught up on opposite sides of a horrific, morally ambiguous civil war, with Todd coming close to madness. (Viola later reminds Todd, who has undertaken some shocking and cruel responsibilities while working with the mayor, "We all fall but that's not what matters. What matters is picking yourself up again.") This superb novel, which ends with a gripping cliffhanger that sets up the third Chaos Walking book, uses a brilliant cast of well-developed characters and its singular setting and premise to present a provocative examination of the nature of evil and humanity. This is among the best YA science fiction novels of the year. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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