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abookaweek 2012: week forty

2012 October 7
by Romy

The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness

Category: Post-apocalyptic / dystopian

Story: These two books continue and finish the story started in The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Opinion: After reading umpteen dystopian YA novels I know better than to think that the rest of the series is going to be as good as the first book. Nonetheless, the characters and plot in TKoNLG gave me high hopes for the rest of this series. As it turns out I was disappointed with the two later books, though for two very different reasons.

The Ask and the Answer slows down the pace of the story, leaving Todd and Viola in one place in order to dive into some political intrigue. But while I love me some backstabbing and scheming, the lack of action and movement made it hard for me to stay interested in the story. The only thing that really kept me going were the characters, which steered clear from any black and white good versus bad stereotyping. Even Todd and Viola, the main characters for whom you can’t help but root,* did some questionable things.

So while I was disappointed with TAatA, I was too emotionally invested in the characters to leave this series unfinished.

I’m guessing Ness got criticized for the slow pace in TAatA, because Monsters of Men did a 180-degree turn and was nothing but action, all the time. The chapters were too short (most only 1 or 2 pages) and every single one ended in a cliffhanger. You can’t make a book that consists solely of cliffhangers! They were the cheap kind too:

  • “And I turn-  And I fire-“
  • “And he starts coming right towards us-“
  • “And then we see just what exactly the brightest light source is.”
  • “And for a second, I truly don’t believe my eyes.”
  • “And the spinning fires reach us-“
  • “And then she says something I never expected in a million years.”
  • “Something’s happening in the town!”

Well, you get it. That’s some seriously shit writing from someone who has proven in the past to be an excellent writer. What was his editor doing?

Anyway, I had to finish reading it, and I have to say that the last third or so of the book does get better, but these two books just didn’t live up to TKoNLG.


*I’ve been trying not to end my sentences with prepositions but sentences like this make me want to throw that rule out the window.

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