The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
The Ask and the Answer is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, and is a story featuring two teenagers named Todd and Viola, who were separated and held captive on different sides of an emerging war led by tyrants on both sides, one side seeking absolute power, while the other is willing to use any methods necessary, no matter how cruel, to win. Each of these leaders believe that the teen they captured could be the key to winning their side of the war. Although extremely difficult, Todd and Viola try to do everything in their power to reunite and end the conflict. However, this war takes place on a distant planet that humans began to occupy not very many years ago, where certain chemicals in the air made the thoughts of men and animals (but not women) audible to all. This concept puts a twist on the strategizing involved with ending the war, as taking just one prisoner can lead to the enemy knowing their every move. Although Todd and Viola do eventually reunite by the end of the book and take hostage the leader of the arguably crueler side of the war, they are too late to stop the already-begun conflict, which they accidentally escalate even further by angering the natives of the planet who start attacking cities.
This book does an excellent job at showing the harshness of war from both sides of the conflict, which is done by being written in a point of view that is different from most books, as each chapter alternates focus between the two teens and their struggles. This separation of these characters also does a great job at developing their characters individually, and shows how they would act without each other. One of the weaknesses of this book is its main antagonist who is although menacing, is unrealistically evil, and committing genocide without any strong motives. Another one of this book's greatest weaknesses is caused by one of its strengths, which is the separation of the two main characters. In the first book in this series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, many of its greatest moments were dialogue between them and the lessons they learned from each other. Although it has its faults, this book is overall a great read for high schoolers, and is worth being in the library. Lucas M.; Teen Reviewer