The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

The basics

Title: The Ask and the Answer


Series: Chaos Walking #2

- The Knife of Never Letting Go (May 2008)
- The Ask and the Answer (May 2009)
- Monsters of Men (May 2010)

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Goodreads Summary:

We were in the square, in the square where I'd run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her - But there weren't no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men...

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor's new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode...

Read a full summary of The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Ask and the Answer and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

what happened in The Ask and the Answer?

  • President Prentiss, having captured Todd in the previous book, interrogates Todd to make him give him Viola’s name. Due to the torture he has to endure, Todd gives Viola’s name up.
  • Todd gets thrown into the bell tower along with the previous mayor, Ledger.
  • Ledger tells Todd there’s a cure for the Noise that people can take.
  • The army arrives in New Prentisstown. President Prentiss gives a speech, and pretends he’s going to execute Ledger. Instead, he sets Ledger free as a show for the people.
  • He won’t let anyone have the cure to the Noise though, of course.
  • Prentiss separates the men and the women, and confines the women to their homes.
  • Todd is made to work under the supervision of Davy Prentiss, the President’s son. Todd and the others have to monitor the Spackle who were enslaved in Haven and are now working the fields.
  • Todd, being adorable, worries about the Spackle’s quality of life.
  • Viola is being held by Prentiss and is staying in Coyle’s house of healing.
  • Prentiss asks Viola about the settler ships, where Viola is from. Coyle knocks Viola out though before she shares too much information. Does this mean Coyle isn’t working for Prentiss?
  • Viola shares what she knows about the settler ships with Mistress Coyle. Viola gives the number of those on board, which is a lot. Coyle wants Viola to spy for her but Viola is hesitant to do so.
  • Maddy, Coyle’s apprentice, starts training Viola to be a healer. It’s probably a good job for her tbh. Maddy tells Viola about the Cure, and how it affects the Spackle. If used on them, it makes them docile, which is what kept them in slavery for so long.
  • Prentiss allows the women to leave their homes and wander around town, which is nice.
  • Maddy and Viola try to get to the communications tower so Viola can warn her people on the ships. Maddy is shot by a soldier though.
  • Prentiss talks to Viola and apologises for what happened. Viola pretends to want to work with him.
  • Todd has to tag the Spackle. He tries to be nice about it, but it’s a horrible thing to do. Davy Prentiss puts a tag around a Spackle’s neck instead of their arm, so the Spackle attacks Davy. Todd gets involved and both are injured.
  • Todd heads to Prentiss for help. He sees Viola hugging Prentiss. Gross.
  • After Maddy’s funeral, Coyle drugs Viola and knocks her out. When Viola comes to, she realises all the healers have left. The healers plan to start a wr.
  • The healers start bombing the city over the next few weeks.
  • Viola receives a letter from Coyle, which is signed with “The Answer”.
  • Todd and Viola are finally able to speak. Viola tells Todd about Coyle and the Answer and all that. This was probably a mistake because of the whole Noise thing, and Prentiss being able to read Todd’s thoughts.
  • They try to run and hide but Prentiss finds and captures them.
  • Todd is made to work in the fields with the Spackle.
  • A bomb lands in the field, and Todd saves one of the Spackle. He names them 1017, as it’s their tag number.
  • Viola escapes and tries to head to the communications tower again. Coyle stops her because the tower is about to be bombed. Coyle takes Viola with her when she heads back to the rebel camp in an old mine.
  • The Spackle are now made to build a new building for Prentiss. Davy and Todd are supervising once again.
  • Davy starts winding Todd up, because Davy has Todd’s mum’s diary and Todd can’t read it.
  • Todd realises Viola escaped the city during the last attack.
  • 1017 starts annoying Todd so Todd attacks him.
  • The Answer manage to free a lot of women from the city. Viola makes friends with Wilf and Lee, the latter of which has family still in the city.
  • Viola’s friend Corinne dies.
  • 1017 is the only Spackle to survive the latest attack. Todd is upset and also thinks he’s been abandoned by Viola, so he joins up with Prentiss.
  • The new building is complete and it becomes the Ask HQ. Todd and Davy are made officers.
  • Davy gives Todd the diary.
  • The new Ask HQ is actually an interrogation building. Women are tortured for information on the Answer, and prisoners are tagged. Soon, all women still in the city are tagged too.
  • Rumours start flying about the Answer being the ones to kill the Spackle, but we learn this isn’t true.
  • Viola gets tagged so she can infiltrate the city.
  • Viola tries to rescue Todd but he resists. They argue. Ledger shows up and it turns out he’s been spying on Todd for Prentiss and has been sharing information from Todd’s Noise dreams.
  • Ledger searches Viola’s bag and gets killed by a bomb that was put there by Coyle for Todd and Prentiss.
  • Prentiss shows up and takes Viola away to the HQ. She is tortued for information about the Ask. Viola holds out, but Todd shares everything he knows instead because he can’t stand watching her get hurt.
  • Prentiss goes off to take out the Answer.
  • Todd and Viola escape the prison and head off after Prentiss. Prentiss seems to have destroyed the Cure.
  • Prentiss takes out the people who followed Todd and Viola.
  • Davy shows up and says the army were heading in the wrong direction and they don’t know where the Answer are. Prentiss tells Davy to tie the others up, but he doesn’t want to.
  • A scout ship from the settlers flies overhead, distracting everyone. Todd and Prentiss fight a mental battle and try to persuade Davy to join them.
  • Prentiss shoots Davy.
  • Davy, while dying, apologises to Todd for accidentally killing Ben and says Todd is his only friend.
  • Todd and Prentiss continue fighting. Todd is able to use Viola’s name to overpower Prentiss.
  • Viola goes off to find the scouts.
  • 1017 leads an army to Todd, and Todd gets scared. So scared that he is willing to keep Prentiss alive in order to defeat the Spackle.

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