Audio Review: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

“Intense, thought-provoking and beautifully read. The Ask and the Answer was made for audio.”

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Title:The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2)
Author:Ness, Patrick
Publisher:Brilliance Audio
Pages:11 discs, 13 hours.

From Hicklebee’s Part two of the literary sci-fi thriller follows a boy and a girl who are caught in a warring town where thoughts can be heard — and secrets are never safe.

Reaching the end of their flight in THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, Todd and Viola did not find healing and hope in Haven. They found instead their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss, waiting to welcome them to New Prentisstown. There they are forced into separate lives: Todd to prison, and Viola to a house of healing where her wounds are treated. Soon Viola is swept into the ruthless activities of the Answer, while Todd faces impossible choices when forced to join the mayor’s oppressive new regime. In alternating narratives the two struggle to reconcile their own dubious actions with their deepest beliefs. Torn by confusion and compromise, suspicion and betrayal, can their trust in each other possibly survive?

I had a lot of trouble reading book one in this series, The Knife of Never Letting Go. I could see it was beautifully written, that the story was crazy imaginative, but being a Southerner I felt peeved with the blatant misspellings to make the population of Todd’s village seem backwoods. I was ready to abandon the series. Then Brilliance Audio sent me The Ask and the Answer for review on disc. Oh, how I wish I had listened to the first instead of reading it. I was able to enjoy the story without feeling Southern = Stupid.

Todd and Viola have made it to Haven, but they arrive a little bit too late. Mayor Prentiss beat them to the city and has already taken over. Todd and Viola are separated and Prentiss has a plan, a very dastardly and ingenius plan.

Read by Angela Dawe and Nick Podehl The Ask and the Answer is addicting to listen to. The narrators build a sense of urgency through-out the novel, leading to the conclusion -and oh, what a conclusion- that keeps you switching disk for disk to hear more.

The story is told in multiple PoV and each narrator does a fine job of emulating the voices of side characters when their PoV is on display. I cried tears during this book. Ness is swiftly on his way to becoming a favorite of mine and I can’t wait to listen to the conclusion of this series.

The plot is meaty and the side plots full of thick gravy, its hard for me to comprehend how Ness came up with every small nuance of this world. Masterfully written and brilliant voice acting make this book my favorite audio of the year.

You can pick the series up on the cheap or listen to a sample at

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9 Responses so far

  1. Gravatar

    Good to know about the audio vs. print. I’m not a southerner by birth but am one now by marriage. I think the misspellings would drive me crazy…

  2. Gravatar

    This is my favorite series. I think Patrick Ness is absolutely brilliant and it shows through this series, and each book is better than the previous one. I haven’t yet listened (I’ve only read.) but I completely plan to, hopefully soon.

    I’m so glad you didn’t abandon after The Knife of Never Letting Go. Todd and Viola’s story is still amazing, and I hope you will continue thru Monsters of Men because it is so, so gripping.

    Also, about the audio version…I have heard that there are two versions of audio for this series. One is read by one person and the other (apparently the one you have) is read by multiple people. I have heard the single-narrator version has turned people off to the series because it fails to capture…something…which makes me so, so sad. When I am ready to go the audio route, I will remember the version you have.

    Thanks for you thoughts!!

  3. Gravatar

    Love these books!

    The dialect used in the books never struck me as an attempt at representing uneducated Southerners. I’ve met plenty of people from very small towns in Northern states who speak in a similar fashion. In fact, not long ago I met someone whom I was sure was from a small town in the Deep South. Turned out they were from a very small town in Indiana!

    I am a Southerner myself and spent part of my childhood living in podunk Southern towns (part of that time being in a not-so-nice trailer park – if you could have heard how some of our neighbors spoke!) and just can’t argue the fact that there are plenty of people out there who speak worse than Todd and the other villagers. Granted, we do not all speak that way, but it is certainly a truth that people do.

    Whatever the case, I didn’t take it as an offense toward Southerners. I just saw it as a device used in the books.

    Okay, okay. I will be quiet now because I think I’m beginning to not make any sense.

  4. Gravatar

    You didn’t like TKoNLG…really? REALLY? Oh, Pam, this makes me sad (but I still love you very much).

    I’m having the opposite reaction with TA&TA, though. Loved the first book, several months later, picked up TA&TA. It’s…slow-going. I’ve picked it up and put it down several times, starting other books in between. Perhaps I should try the audiobook instead…

  5. Gravatar

    I listened to the Knife of Never letting go with Nick Poehdel as the narrator and I have to say, it was one of the most intense audio books I’ve ever listened to. – Highly recommended – Since its being read you never notice what might be a misspelled word in print.
    I’m gearing up to go back into Todd and VIola’s world and can’t wait to listen to the Ask and the Answer

    I’ve also had great success in listening to Finnikan of the Rock and Blood red road where the written dialect might have pulled me out of the story.

  6. Gravatar

    Oh, so glad that the audio improved your experience of this series. I still haven’t gotten to it, but maybe I’ll stick with audio when I do.

  7. Gravatar

    This is a series I have always been interested in, I don’t read/listen to a lot of YA (About 5 this year) but the [remise sort of reminds me of Ellison’s A Boy and his Dog, which is one of my all time favorite short stories.

    I love nick Podehl’s narration in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller series, so I may just give this one a try. My library has the whole series available on Overdrive, and I can always afford free.

  8. Gravatar

    Hmm I never read the dialogue as trying to be Southern. I just read it that Todd is somewhat uneducated and this planet/world speaks and pronounces their words differently to us.

    I love the way it is written – I thought it really brought Todd to life. But then I have nothing bad to say about this series at all. I have never read anything as good before or since.

  9. Gravatar

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