Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

I don't even know how to review this book and do it justice. I want to make this a spoiler free review and can't do that AND talk about the I won't talk about the plot. I'll just share with you my experience with reading it. The Ask and the Answer is the second book in Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy. The third book, Monsters of Men is due out later this year and I can't freaking WAIT for it!!!! I may just have to set up a small calendar in my room to count down the days. This is the best "young adult" I've read in ages. And I put young adult in quotes only because I hate to put this book into a classification like that. This book needs to be read by everyone and I don't think it's written only for young adults. I often wonder why publishing companies choose to put certain books into a certain section, but that's a whole different post. Ness writes with power and purpose and passion, and it's a delicate power that he holds. You're never safe with him. But you're never safe in life. That sounds depressing, I know, but it's the truth. You don't know what tomorrow brings. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Tomorrow could bring good news just as well as it could bring bad and that's what he gives us in these amazing books. Only more often than not, it's bad news because of the totalitarianism that he presents us with in this series. There are so many issues that Ness handles so perfectly in these books. Issues of right vs. wrong and how we judge what truly is right and wrong and how different variables can change their meanings. Issues of discrimination and race are constantly addressed throughout both books so far in the trilogy, even more so in The Ask and the Answer. And he addresses these issues in a way that is so heartwrenchingly just moves the reader to tears. Of course, there are the issues of power and the abuse of power that are addressed. I think that this is the most terrifying part of the whole book. The abuse of power acts as an umbrella that controls all of the other variables of discrimination and racism and right vs. wrong and decision making. But Ness stresses the point continually that the power of individual thinking CAN overcome the control of brainwashing and flooding by the majority. And it's a point that needs to be stressed more these days. That we as individuals don't have to be "ok" with going along with how things are. You know, I just don't know how Patrick Ness does it exactly, but he evokes an emotional reaction in me like no other author can. He has the ability to take characters that I once hated, could never imagine myself caring about unless they were impaled (maybe then I'd have an emotional reaction of pure joy), and making me cry tears of sorrow for them. I can't think of another author that has done that to me. His characters are just so real. The imagery he paints into my mind comes alive with the turn of each page. I'm going to be sad to see this series end. I was talking to Renay the other night about this book and I think I told her something like, "at the end of this book I was reminding myself to breathe, blowing my nose from crying, trying to stop screaming "holy shit", and trying not to pee on myself all at the same time." That's what Ness does to me. And you should let him do the same to you as well if you haven't already.

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