Book Hoot #31 The Ask And The Answer

The second in the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Ask And The Answer is a story of dictatorship and rebellion. It picks up moments after The Knife Of Never Letting Go left off. Viola and Todd are being kept apart by the Mayor of New Prentisstown, formally Haven.

For a lot of the story, each believes that they are fighting on the right side of the conflict. Todd is a part of The Ask and Viola The Answer. And this is one of the book's main themes; in war, is there a 'right side'? I imagine this would quite a challenging idea for some readers. But there are other themes here that show Patrick Ness is certainly not talking down to his readers.

The Spackle, an alien race who make a small appearance in Chaos #1, are more central to the plot in this book. The Mayor puts his son, Davy, and Todd in charge of using the Spackle as slave labour. They even brand them in an eerily similar way to the Jewish race being tattooed in the Holocaust. There are also moments of torture and ethnic cleansing in this story line. And as Todd struggles with his conscience; the old excuse of 'just doing my job' works for a while.

Meanwhile Viola finds herself in a group of terrorists. Just as The Ask is primarily made up of men, The Answer is primarily women and so there are themes of female emancipation in her sections. Mistress Coyle the leader of The Answer carries out a series of bombings and the book asks the reader to consider 'collateral damage'. Viola struggles with the actions of the rebels, but like Todd is blinded by the charisma of her leader and what seems at first to be their just cause.

I would highly recommend this series. I'm about to start Monsters of Men and can't wait to see how the series is concluded.

Five out of five Hoots!

Happy Tales,
Barking Owl

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