The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1 - Posuka Demizu, Kaiu Shirai 4.25 stars

This was a free read at (until 2/4). I realized the first volume was a free read the day before it expired, and I’m so glad that I made the time to read it. I didn’t know anything about the story going in, and by the end of the first chapter, I was like – whoa. This was a fast read, with horror, suspense, and fantasy elements. I’m hooked.

Emma, Ray, and Norman are orphans at Grace Field House. They have been there since they were babies. They are now eleven, and they are happy, caring children. Emma is especially fond of her family of fellow orphans, and of “Mom,” the woman who looks after them. Emma enjoys a warm bed, wonderful food, and lots of time to play with her friends. The children do spend part of the day taking tests, which Emma excels at, but once done with those, they are free to play outside. Sounds fun and carefree, huh? There are only a few rules. Everyone has to leave by the time they are 12, though where they have to go is kind of sketchy. They can never go past the gate to the outside world or the fence in the forest. It’s for their safety because it’s dangerous out there. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

When one of orphans is the next to leave, she forgets her beloved stuffed animal. Emma and Norman decide to sneak out of the house and return it to her before she begins her new life outside of the orphanage. What they learn will change their lives forever. They discover the forbidden gate open, and going through it, they find a truck. A glance in the bed of the truck yields the grotesque image of Connie, staked through the heart and very, very dead. The terrified kids learn that the orphanage is actually a farm that raises humans as food for demons. Holy Guacamole! I didn’t see that coming!

Emma and Norman are determined to save themselves, as well as every kid in the orphanage. That is a pretty tall order, considering that they know nothing of the outside world. They don’t even know where they are on a map. They do know that the year is 2045, and the newest book in the library was published in 2015. So what happened in the intervening years? Their guess is as good as mine, and I can hardly wait to find out! While Ray is in favor of leaving the other children and just the three of them attempting to escape, Emma refuses to consider that. Yes, it will be tough to get 37 kids, many under the age of 6, to safety, but she won’t rest until they try. Then Ray brings up the likelihood that there is no safe place for them to run to, and isn’t that a scary thought? Who knows that’s lurking on the other side of the wall that surrounds the Grace Field House?

This is creepy and suspenseful, and impossible to put down. The kids are in a battle of wits with Mom, who they suspect knows that they know the truth about their fates. As they attempt to gather intel for their escape, they are up against time constraints. The next child will have to leave in two months’ time, and now that they know leaving means being butchered for dinner, they are desperate to flee before another of their own is murdered. I have no idea how they are going to get away; Mom has demon technology on her side and they are completely ignorant of the world beyond the orphanage. I enjoyed this volume so much that I pre-ordered Volume 2 immediately after finishing.

Highly recommended.

Grade: 4.25 stars