Todd Hewitt

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The Ask And The Answer (Chaos Walking #2) – Patrick Ness

Published November 28, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

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.

What did I think?:

Patrick Ness is, without a doubt, one of my new favourite authors and after the fantastic Knife Of Never Letting Go which I read a little while ago, it was high time that I read this, the second in the series. Ness leaves us at the end of the first book with an unbelievable cliff-hanger and I’m going to try and make this review as spoiler free as possible but if you’ve not read the first book, I highly recommend you do and then come back and read this review! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to reveal that Todd and Viola have walked right into terrible danger, in the form of Mayor Prentiss, a terrific fanatical villain who has plans for a new world order, one in which he is the President and rules by manipulating the “noise,” of his citizens.

Almost immediately, Todd and Viola are separated and for most of this novel, we see the story from both of their points of view as Viola is placed in the care of a group of healers with all the women and Todd is left with the Mayor (sorry, PRESIDENT) and the men. He is forced to take charge of the Spackle, strange and mute alien beings who were actually the native species of this planet before the humans arrived and, as is often the case, took over everything. President Prentiss has plans for the Spackles – not nice ones I’m afraid to say and by using an eerie form of mind control, torture, threats and his son Davey, he forces Todd to do things he is not proud of which brings back bad memories of what he has done in the past. He becomes desperate to find Viola and make everything right again, even if this means war and over-throwing Prentiss.

Meanwhile, Viola is adapting to life amongst the healers where tensions and bad feeling against Prentiss are slowly beginning to rise, master-minded by the lead healer, Mistress Coyle. Eventually, she heads up a group of women known as “The Answer,” to stand against the President in a war that makes Viola question everything she believes in. These are dangerous times, especially when another group also rises to fight which could mean the end of the world as they know it. Who is right and who is wrong? Which side should Todd and Viola choose? Is war ever justified? These questions and so many more are just begging to be answered as we head towards the final book in this thought-provoking and action packed trilogy. There’s one thing I know for sure, it’s going to be one hell of a finale.

For me, the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy was even better than the first and I didn’t think that was going to be possible. I absolutely love Todd and Viola as characters (although I did miss a certain dog…) and it was great to see our heroine’s point of view a little more in this novel. What makes them so great? It’s a mixture of things, Todd’s unique voice and the way he uses grammar is a real bonus for me and I love the way he’s so imperfect. Yes, he makes mistakes, he struggles, he doesn’t always make the right decisions but he’s still a young lad trying to find his feet in a dangerous world facing things we can only imagine – he’s allowed to mess up! Viola is a perfect compliment to his character, providing peace and inner strength, allowing him to make his own way and then helping him to be a better person. Then we have Prentiss, a phenomenal villain who could definitely benefit from some psychiatric help but truly believes he is doing the right thing for the world. Well, they do say psychopaths believe their own hype, right?

This story is so jam packed full of action, just when I thought it couldn’t get any more frenetic, Ness ramped it up just one more notch. This is certainly a book I couldn’t put down and one that stayed with me for a while as I considered exactly what the author was trying to say about war, violence, friendship, fascism and indeed, racism. Throughout the novel I was moved, angered, repelled and excited (sometimes all at the same time) and it has paved the way for an extraordinary series ending. If you haven’t started or finished the series yet, please do yourself a favour and DO IT! You won’t be disappointed.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Image from http://www.ohthebooks.com/bookish-reunion-the-ask-and-the-answer-by-patrick-ness/

 

The Knife Of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) – Patrick Ness

Published July 3, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

What did I think?:

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book I have read by multi award winning author Patrick Ness. I have only one criticism – why did it take me so long to read one? The story is set in the future, where both the history, the present and the days to come look pretty bleak. The settlers in Prentisstown are all men, as something referred to as the “Noise germ” has killed off all the women in the community. This germ also had the unsettling effect of amplifying all thoughts, so everyone can hear what the other thinks. Our main character is a thirteen year old boy called Todd Hewitt, who is a month away from when he is officially recognised as a man. Todd is the last person in the town to become a man (as there are no women left, there are also no children) and something crucial will happen on this momentous occasion where he may finally learn the town secrets.

However, whilst out walking his dog Manchee (who talks, as all the animals do), Todd learns something that both terrifies him and causes him to flee the town, unsure of where to go, but trusting in the men that raised him who say it is imperative that he leaves. Armed with a large hunting knife, a journal that belonged to his mother that he has been told will help him on his travels, and the ever-faithful Manchee he hurries away before the leaders of the town hear his thoughts/plans and try to stop him. After a short while, he comes across the most incredible discovery of his life – a young girl. But weren’t all the females eliminated from the Noise germ? Apparently not. The girl, whose name is Viola becomes a handy side-kick for Todd as they continue to flee from Prentisstown and the angry leaders of the town, including one of the creepiest characters I have met in the literary world, Aaron the preacher, who means to silence Todd for good. His interest in Viola though is a bit more suspicious and leads to the two children racing for their lives. Along the epic journey, there is immense danger, violence and heartbreak for the two friends. Todd must also deal with the new truths that are revealed which not only lead him to disregard his previous beliefs, but force him into becoming a man well ahead of his time.

This is an absolutely incredible book that I loved every minute of. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t really like the character of Todd to begin with, but as the story continues, it is hard not to change your opinion as the whole world that he has known flips upside down. Now, a talking animal always gets the thumbs up from me, but Manchee has to be up there with the best animal characters of all time. (Another one for me is Wilbur the pig but anyway…) He’s quite a dopey personality really, with a fairly limited vocabulary that mainly consists of “Poo, Todd! Poo!” when he needs to do his business, but he is fiercely loyal, protective, amusing and so loveable, I challenge anybody not to have a little fuzzy feeling for him. I honestly believe that this story has something for everyone, we have adventure and action, emotion and suspense. Patrick Ness blends all these elements with real finesse and so flawlessly that it produced a story of epic proportions which really stands out from the crowd in the YA genre at the moment. The author used an interesting and clever technique of  mis-spelling words/using incorrect grammar when Todd’s thoughts are expressed, as a teenager with little literary skills may “see” these words. He also wasn’t afraid to get a bit gruesome at times, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought made for a thrilling and for one event in particular, slightly upsetting and jaw-dropping story. So, after all my gushing, all I can say is if you haven’t started the Chaos Walking series yet, what in the world are you waiting for?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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