THE ASK AND THE ANSWER by Patrick Ness (#2 Chaos Walking)
Verdict: Tough to get into, killer cliff hanger.
Review of book 1
This book is like climbing a very steep cliff. It starts slow, building up new characters, a new world, a new system to climb through. When you're at the top, it's amazing. And then you slip right off it, your hand gripping the edge, hanging on for that sequel.
If I'm honest, the ramble style of voice isn't my type of thing. I can appreciate the feeling of really getting inside the character's head in the moment, and the way the action scenes unravel at a frighteningly fast pace, but it's the slower in-between sections which don't work as well for me in this style.
The general pacing of the story reminded me of book one. In my opinion, it lacked momentum until something tripped me up and then I couldn't put it down, and this book took longer to stick its foot out. Perhaps after book one being about running, escaping, scraping through one disaster to the next, book two felt claustrophobic in comparison.
So it picks up with Todd and Viola trapped, their lives in the balance, and the promise of a reunion. But their reunion scene is exchanged for events that just weren't as interesting. I felt forced into a story-line I didn't want, forced to follow what the Mistresses were up to. Forced to watch Todd be forced into acts of cruelty. I guess part of it is I didn't expect most of the book to be set in one place, because the last book was such an adventure.
I struggled the most with the motives of the leaders. What does the mayor want? Then why is he doing that? I don't think this book really answered those questions, only asked them. Maybe that's the point, but if so, I still feel like it's missing something.
Towards the middle-end of the book, I started to love it again. The pace picked up, and the pieces started to slot into place. I read the last third of the book ten times faster than the rest, and that's where the four stars comes from.
Then there's that cliffhanger. I know a lot of people don't like cliffhangers, but this is book two of a trilogy, and that ending makes me want to pick up book three right away. It took me by surprised yet it's painfully obvious - this is my absolute favourite thing about reading, and Ness does it so, so well.
Source: Bought it.