4.5 starsWhich may change to five as I let this one sink in. I am loving this trilogy. Firstly, most of the problems I had with The Knife of Never Letting Go were thankfully absent in "The Ask and the Answer." No narration cheating (that I noticed), no evil!Aaron, and the Mayor seemed like a more fleshed out character to me. His actions didn't see so one-sidedly nefarious, if that makes sense. Again, though, I must warn potential readers that this is not a book full of hope and lucky breaks. Everything that can go wrong, does. I didn't guess one turn of events correctly, mostly because somewhere along the way, I stopped trying. Basically: this book stressed me out. I loved Todd and Viola's interactions. They were loyal to each other, but it felt real to have them questioning each other, questioning the other's actions and motives. Nothing is perfect, not even the plot driving love between the two main characters. I also love how the author handles their love. You can see it growing from friendship to maybe something more, but it isn't addressed directly. They love each other. They care for each other. They would do anything for each other. That's enough. There is a lot of action in the plot so any stopping for discussion of feelings would feel out of place (I'm looking at you a million other YA books.)I have to admit that I wanted to clonk Todd over the head a few times and scream "YOU IDIOT!" But, I like Tood. If he was a lesser character his actions could've ruined the book, but I felt for him instead. Poor kid. He really was just thrust into this situation. Even if he was never meant to be great or extraordinary, he's had to be. Davy mother effin' Prentiss. My god. Also, I'd like to say that I am very touchy when it comes to any sort of love triangle business, but what Mr. Ness did here with the character of Lee was nice and subtle. I mean, it's natural that Viola would grow to care for other people, especially away from Todd. And it was natural for Lee to grow affectionate towards her. Basically, it felt natural. Also, it didn't hinder the plot. We didn't stop the action to suddenly focus on this very important love development. Finally, Viola never magically forgets Todd and the love she has for him. She doesn't grow with Lee what she has with Todd in half the time. This is always a pet peeve of mine in these dumb love triangle scenarios. Maybe this whole plot point won't continue to be a thing in book three, or maybe Ness will mess it up for me, but I just thought I would mention that I saw what he did here, and I appreciated it. This cliffhanger was easier for me to deal with than the one at the end of the first book. As with that book, however, I feel like I need to read something fluffy before I go into the next. Seriously. This book stressed. me. out. Good job, Patrick Ness.