As powerful and amazing as the first book in the series was the Ask and the Answer pushed the envelope further. Its an astounding concept that focuses on themes as deep and meaningful as the first in a way relevant to modern mature readers. The concept of love and war and what war forces normal human beings to transform into is a particularly potent theme in my view.
To be clear and concise as a sequel it follows on brilliantly from where the first book left off only that it centres more around a war and a love story. The same vile villain exists, the same confused protagonist and only new minor characters are introduced. I highly recommend however that readers new to the series start at the beginning due to the level of back story needed to understand what events are occurring.
If you are tentative about starting a new YA series or feel let down by the hype of The Hunger Games try this. I personally like it in some ways more. It is definitely more gritty and asks imposing questions from its readers. What is more: the trilogy improves with each book rather than staying the same or lessening in the case of The Hunger Games trilogy.
So why should you go and read the first book? Because this is an incredible ride that I can still remember vividly now as I go back and edit this review. To sum up without spoilers the series is experience from two perspectives, the main protagonist Todd Hewitt's and Viola's first perspective. Todd is the last boy left in Prentisstown, a town that is recognisable as not belonging to our modern world from the start. I'll leave you to work out if it's an alternate world in the style of Lord of the Rings or whether it's a science fiction apocalyptic world - because that would be telling. Either way in the first book you see Todd discover why and how he is the last boy in Prentisstown and what is with all the Noise generated from the other men's voices. Also what will be revealed in chilling fashion what happened to all the women. And you'll meet a dastardly villain or two, encounter some rebel movements and a whole organisation of intriguing creatures...