Tag Archives: Dystopia

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

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The Blurb:

We were in the square, in the square where I’d run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her – But there weren’t no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men…

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…

“The Ask and the Answer” is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the “Chaos Walking” trilogy.

My Review:

As I suspected, I liked “The Ask and the Answer” by Patrick Ness more than the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy – and I came to like Todd Hewitt a good deal more in this novel.

When Todd carries a badly wounded Viola into Haven, they expect that their troubles will be over; that their questions will be answered; that Viola will be able to contact “her people” – colonists who are approaching the world of “Noise”. However, the young protagonists find something completely different to their expectations.

Todd and Viola are forced to separate and throughout the unfolding of this violent and often heartbreaking story, they rarely meet. However, the ties that bind them are extremely strong and their faith and trust in each other brings real life to this story. They meet many devious characters for whom power is the guiding light and Todd has to develop ways of dealing with awful situations and actions in which he had to participate.

In the first book of the trilogy, I was irritated by Todd, but the way his character developed in “The Ask and the Answer” provided much to like and admire. Although some of the things he had to do were despicable, he tried to show compassion. Viola continued to be a strong young woman, growing in strength even in the face of betrayal.

This book was written from the points of view of both Todd and Viola – I think this worked very well and helped to broaden the scope of the story. Their voices are quite different and there was no confusion for me, just added enjoyment. I have admired the work of Patrick Ness for a while now and have no reason to change my views. I think he is an extremely skillful, thoughtful writer and although the Chaos Walking trilogy is aimed at young adults, the questions that we are asked to ponder are applicable at any age.

Needless to say, I have now made a good start on the third book: “Monsters of Men”

Dystopian Literature

Today, I’m posting two reviews of books that can be classed as dystopian literature. This is a genre that I have only recently developed a liking for, having avoided it for years. However, once tasted I find that my appetite for it is growing!. The first review is about a short, recently written piece; the second is for a classic that had been on my bookshelves for many years……why did I leave it so long to read?

Myadar’s Snare by Sophie Martin

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” Myadar’s Snare” by Sophia Martin is the first part of a serial, deiselpunk novel named “The City Darkens”. In this instalment, we are introduced to several very interesting characters, including Myadar. She is the wife of Reister, an ambitious courtier, but her life is centred around running their country estate and bringing up their five year old son, Bersi. Soon after Myadar’s mother-in-law arrives to take her daughter-in-law and grandson back to the city, feelings of apprehension begin to arise. They have been summoned by Reister to attend the coronation of the new rulers, but there appear to be doubts about the suitability of Myadar’s appearance and also her attachment to her young child.

One becomes aware fairly quickly, that this is not a world that is altogether familiar to us. The 1920 style clothing worn by many of the women in the city is recognisable, as are the cars. However, this is a world where robots act as servants and the religious system is highly influential. Myadar finds herself having to navigate unknown, dangerous waters, without help from anyone.

This was an intriguing, beautifully written instalment. Sophia Martin has created a fascinating world, which she brings alive with vivid description. I felt empathy for Myadar from the beginning and was completely drawn into her story. So much so, in fact, that I intend to read the whole book as soon as I can. Excellent!