The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness – 528 pages
Todd and Viola are at Mayor Prentiss’ mercy. Forcibly separated, he dangles each one’s life and safety in front of the other to keep them in line, and their paths begin to diverge, one on each end of New Prentisstown’s political extremes. Trapped and tricked, they must each reconcile their own heinous actions and overcome the seeds of doubt that plague them. Can their trust and love for each other endure long enough to save themselves and New World?
You did it again. You’re like the king of the cliffhangers. I don’t know if I can take it. The Ask and the Answer was so desolate and horrifying and so nearly triumphant, but it’s the middle of a trilogy, and everybody knows that the middle of a trilogy is all about getting the protagonists into even worse trouble than they were in before. But really all that matters are Todd and Viola, and their faith, and their phoenix-like ability to rise again and again.
Once again, your ability to manipulate me was infuriating and masterful and brilliant. You push the envelope of YA in this book, exploring Todd’s weakness and letting him stray farther and farther away from the courage and human decency that made him so appealing in Book 1. It’s not often that the hero of a novel for teens swings so freely back and forth between righteous and monstrous–it was fascinating and awful at once. Set at counterpoint with Viola, who made a vicious effort to hold her moral ground in spite of what was going on around her, Todd’s narrative seemed all the more heartbreakingly brutal and their reunion even more intense. I wish I could hear your Noise, so I could find out what’s going to happen in Book 3. The wait will be excrutiating, but I look forward to it. Five stars once again.
Books this year: 98
Pages this year: 19,930