Part two of the literary sci-fi thriller follows a boy and a girl who are caught in a warring town where thoughts can be heard — and secrets are never safe.
Reaching the end of their flight in THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, Todd and Viola did not find healing and hope in Haven. They found instead their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss, waiting to welcome them to New Prentisstown. There they are forced into separate lives: Todd to prison, and Viola to a house of healing where her wounds are treated. Soon Viola is swept into the ruthless activities of the Answer, while Todd faces impossible choices when forced to join the mayor’s oppressive new regime. In alternating narratives the two struggle to reconcile their own dubious actions with their deepest beliefs. Torn by confusion and compromise, suspicion and betrayal, can their trust in each other possibly survive?
Reading The Ask and the Answer was a big, long and painful suffering. I can’t believe it myself that I say it considering how much I liked the first volume.
The Story (Spoiler Degrees: 1)
The weakest part of the story is that there’s no real plot. It was true for The Knife of Never Letting Go too, but it’s even more true for this volume. The characters make no progress; they just kill each other if they need to, or even if they don’t. The point is to make blood flowing.
The most infuriating part of the whole book is that you can’t know whom to believe and whom not to. I was really annoyed because of all the lies. Obviously, the intention of the author is exactly creating uncertainty. And apparently it isn’t a coincidence either that the two main characters are so young. They are very impressionable. And the two leaders absolutely take advantage of this.
But at least there are some interesting twists and turns in The Ask and the Answer. I mean Davy Prentiss, or the Spackles (especially of 1017). And there are very harsh events in the book, many kinds of torment. It was horrible to read about these things.
All in all it was a very depressing volume. Mayor… oh, pardon… President Prentiss gives me the shivers. “I am the circle and the circle is me.” I get the jitters whenever I read it.
Characters (Spoiler Degrees: 3)
As I’ve already mentioned above, Todd and Viola are too young. I forget it sometimes, and I wish they’d do things in a different way. But then their ages come to mind and I know that this is all that they are capable of. And it’s frustrating.
Devy Prentiss is a huge surprise in this volume. Initially I hated him, because he did horrible things in the first part of the book (not to mention what he did in The Knife of Never Letting Go). But he has changed. And now I only feel sorry for him.
So the second book wasn’t very good, especially compared to The Knife of Never Letting Go. I’m very disappointed. That’s why I give lower points to this volume.
It is not bad, actually. It fits the story of The Ask and the Answer, but I prefer the cover of the first book.
The Story: 3/5
The Characters: 2/5