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The Ask and the Answer
OverDrive Inc.  Ebook
2010
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  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Ness brings the frantic chase of The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008) to a screeching halt at the beginning of this second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. Todd and Viola have finally arrived in the town of Haven, only to find that their pursuers, an army led by the zealot Mayor Prentiss, have beat them there and set up a harsh new regime. Alternating chapters from both Todd's and Viola's points of view follow the two as they are separated and implicated into the schemes of both the oppressors and the resistance, both sides defined by the atrocities they perpetrateto achieve their goals. What results is an amalgamation of society's most brutal facets fascism, terrorism, torture, ethnic cleansing with all kinds of relevance to our world, even if the story is set on a made-up planet warring for identity as it awaits an influx of new settlers. While this book suffers from some of the same frustrating plot holes found in the first, Ness more than makes up for it with a relentless flurry of heavy-hitting issues, hinging on appeasement, complicity, and maintaining one's morality in the face of impossible choices. And the concept of Noise, so brilliantly conceived and executed in the first novel, is given even more depth as it becomes both a tool and a weapon. A notch less exhilirating than the first, this book is far weightier and no less stunning to read. If Knife provided the cut, this follow-up provides the fester.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2009 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Ness delivers a leaner, meaner narrative in the highly anticipated sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008). At the end of Book One, Todd and Viola found themselves at the mercy of Mayor Prentiss, with Viola near death. Now Todd is forced to join the Mayor's oppressive regime, while Viola is saved and then tutored by the female Healers, led by powerful Mistress Coyle. When the Mayor makes clear his distrust of women, who are impervious to the planet's Noise germ, Mistress Coyle resurrects The Answer, a former terrorist group, which attempts to bomb the Mayor's ruthless Askers into submission. Meanwhile, Todd and Viola are being turned against each other, as each leader tries to persuade the teens that his/her cause is just. Provocative questions about gender bias, racism, the meaning of war and the price of peace are thoughtfully threaded throughout a breathless, often violent plot peopled with heartbreakingly real characters. Newbies will need the first volume to understand this one, and fans are given only a momentary respite as the author continues his tradition of cliffhanger endings. (Science fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
<p> 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. </p> <p>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?</p>
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