Book Review: The Promised Neverland Volume 2

The Promised Neverland Volume 2 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, and making plans for the weekend that is to come.

Things are going fairly well here, though I did have a few things to look into to run an experiment, and I can still do what I like.

A while back, I had ordered a few books from Amazon, and very few of them were released last month, which led to things being a little dry, but they started to come again this, as I recently received two of the titles I expected.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called The Promised Neverland Volume 2 by Kaito Shirai.

As I have given a synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

Norman, Ray, and Emma have started to go through with their plan, by gaining information and making preparations, even when a new piece is added to the board by the enemy that they never doubted, and believe that things are still going well.

However, when the trio realize there is a possibility of a spy among the fellow children, they must begin to suspect everyone and weed out the spy, as well as decide what to do with the spy, so that they can escape successfully.

While the first installment in a series can be good enough to draw people in, that does not mean that a series is worth reading to the end, which is why it is important to try to not jump into things too quickly.

And after reading this, I can say there is still some worth to this series, as I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Like the last volume, from the moment I started reading the first few pages, I found myself engrossed enough with the work that I did not want to put it down for any reason.

The most important part of a great work of fiction, other than having interesting characters and things being believable for the situation being presented, is how well it can pull the audience enough that they forget where they are, thereby creating a way for the reader to temporarily leave the world they know.

Now, this can be done in a variety ways, depending on the kind of story is being told, the perspective used to tell the story, as well as the medium used to present the story, but the second installment in a series, regardless of medium, must keep the same flow that was presented, as well as give readers more reason to continue to following the story.

Back in the last volume, the cat and mouse game of escaping the farm started off and ultimately ended with Isabella talking with her superiors about harvesting the three smartest children and the changing scenes to demons sitting at a table and deciding to celebrate and pray to some entity that we do not know, and how things play out there ends well enough that the only way that things could start off well again is by shifting back to the current cat and mouse game between three children planning a massive escape and the people trying to keep them there, which is how this volume starts off.

If Kaiu had not started the first chapter of this volume off where it did, I would have been disappointed because this series focuses on how extremely intelligent children try to survive in a world of demons and find their safe haven, where they can live long and fulfilled lives, and this portion of the series is supposed to be kind of like the mental chess that many fans of Death Note or psychological thriller works would be anxious to see.

By starting things out any differently from how things started here, that feeling would have been gone entirely, though I cannot necessarily call this a psychological thriller, because I know that the storyline itself does not revolve around the escape from the farm, whereas Death Note's plot revolved entirely around one party outsmarting the other until one fell.

Thankfully, Kaiu remembered that this series focuses on the children and their current battle of wits between them and the adults, and that makes me want to give him a big round of applause.

Hopefully, things will keep on going in this direction, even in the chapters that are currently being serialized in Japan, but since Kaiu Shirai and the people helping him, such as his editor or editors, are only human, there could very well be a point in time where this series becomes just as horrendous as other series, like Attack on Titan, that deserve to be in a incinerator or shot into the sun, so I must be ready to call him out on it.

I also liked how the mystery of the spy was executed in this volume.

While there are many great works out there with well done mysteries, such as Pandora Hearts, there are also works of fiction out there that do a bad job of presenting a mystery, such as Detective Conan.

Right now, there might be some people out there that I am using Detective Conan as an example of a badly presenting a mystery, as it is a series that is popular in many countries, many of which are even closer to the Japanese releases than Viz Media is here, but many long time fans of series will admit that series is not necessarily perfect.

Recently, Viz Media finished the events surrounding Kir and got started with the Bourbon arc. One of the big mysteries through that entire arc is whether Akai is dead or alive, and while it worked out kind of well back when the Bourbon was the latest arc in Japan, with the weekly releases, the mystery was ruined rather quickly when one sat down and read those chapters in the volume releases, which is why it was a big deal to me back when I reviewed volume 60 of that series.

When a mystery crops up in a series, regardless of whether the work is considered detective fiction, mystery fiction, crime fiction, or something else, the purpose of that mystery needs to be to give the readers an incentive to continue reading that work and should not be something that be easily discovered, regardless of whether it was originally a serialized publication or not, especially because not everyone reads a work when it is originally published, and that was where Detective Conan failed.

Here, however, the mystery of the spy who was working for Isabella truly felt like a mystery I wanted to learn the answer to, even though I knew who it was because I am keeping up with the latest chapters available, and had me truly wondering who the spy was, even up to the final reveal that happened in this volume.

This is how a mystery should be presented, and Kaiu succeeded in providing this great moment, though Posuka Demizu does deserve some credit too, as she does the artwork for the series and part of why the mystery of Akai's fate in Detective Conan became obvious was the artwork.

If the spy had been pointed out to be a spy, beyond just somebody that is an obvious suspect, like how Okiya was revealed to be Akai early on in Detective Conan, I would have been greatly disappointed because even a battle wits needs to keep the audience guessing and that would have made the series look like a joke, especially considering well the first volume started off this series.

Fortunately, that did not happen, and that makes me want to give both Kaiu and Posuka good round of applause for a job well done.

Hopefully, they can continue to make the mysteries that crop up in this series to be just as good as this was, considering that this is a mystery series, but things could very well become worse as the series progresses, as it is hard for human beings to maintain consistency from beginning to end.

Another thing that I liked was how Krone was upstaged.

From the moment that she was introduced in the first volume, she had been scheming to get the upper hand over Isabella, by finding out who learned the secret of the farms and exposing Isabella's decision to not follow protocol.

While she was introduced in a way that says that she will not be around for long, which anyone who has read as much as, if not more than, I have could tell easily, though it was not quite as obvious if one were to have read this when the chapters found in this volume were being published weekly, I kind of wondering how this situation would play out because adults tend to backstab others out of greed and I would expect more things to crop up to cause difficulty, so I was wondering what kind of trouble she would bring to the field.

In this volume, because Isabella had Krone memorize details about each of the children under her care in the farm and she was an adult, she thought that she could deal with the children and was even so confident that she decided to play tag, once she found out the true purpose of the game, yet she was beaten by children, and Isabella reminded Krone of what she told her by having Krone give her own assessment of the children.

There are many adults and elders out there that think they know better because of their experience, thinking that they can outsmart a child or the younger generation, but the one thing that people do not realize, regardless of whether they are a businessman or not, is that experience can blind people because that person is just as likely as somebody without experience and high ideals to think that their thinking and methods are right, which causes adults to believe that shows and other works of fiction are not portraying the difference between children and adults realistically.

Seeing the kids upstaging Krone in this volume, things felt like it was believable, and was likewise enjoyable, because these children from the beginning of the series were said to be highly intelligent, compared to the children in the other farms, which is only hinted at at this point in the series, and made me think that they actually stood a chance, instead of not being on an equal playing field because Isabella was one step ahead the whole time, thus making things feel less believable or realistic.

If Krone was on an equal playing field to Isabella and the children, as she seems to be highly intelligent herself, I would have been a little disappointed because Kaiu wants the audience to be rooting for the children to succeed, so they need to look good, and a three-way equal field would have made it hard for me to root for the children, even though I would have enjoyed seeing people posing just as much of a threat as Isabella.

Thankfully, Kaiu remembered that the children are the main stars of this series, and allowed them to have some sort of victory for once.

Hopefully, Kaiu can continue to make sure that the children continue to have challenges and make sure their victories remain believable, but I can only see that working out well if this series does not become as long as Detective Conan, since it is hard to keep things as interesting as they were in the beginning.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this volume ended.

While the way a work of fiction begins is important, as it is supposed to be the thing that transports the reader into a new world, series have another important aspect, which is how each installment ends, as how well things end can affect whether or not a reader is willing to invest more of their time into the series.

The ending featured in this volume was one of those where I feel like I just have to go out get the next volume right now, though it will not come out until April, according to the product page on Amazon, and I cannot order it yet, unless I want to lose more shelf space.

Towards the end of the volume, there is discussion about a secret room in the farm that Isabella disappears to on a regular basis and the two new recruits want to get into, thinking that they can find out what happened to the other children, which the audience already knows, but Ray says that checking it out is too risky.

Later, when the trio that are said to be smartest children are looking into things of their own, Don, one of the two new recruits, decides to pick Isabella's pocket, to confirm what Norman, Ray, and Emma told him.

Yes, this does not sound that exciting, compared the events that occurred in volume 58 of Detective Conan, but seeing as this series revolves around the children and one of the greatest mysteries of this series is the world itself, this series of events just grabs my attention, making me wonder if there is more to find out about what goes on in the farms and the way the events leading up this seem to make it quite interesting, even though I would normally be shaking my head about how stupid these characters are, after one of the two smartest characters said it was stupid.

If the volume had not ended like this, I would kind of have a hard time believing that these characters are actually children, let alone human, because children usually do things even when one tells them not to, and I would have ripped Shueisha, or whoever they had compile these chapters into this volume, a new one because they are responsible for determining where each volume ends and begins.

Fortunately, that did not happen, and it makes me feel like giving them a good round of applause for a job well done.

Hopefully, the people compiling the chapters into volumes continue to do a good job of deciding when each volume should end, and I am at least confident that they will be able to deliver for a while, though I know it might not remain that way once the series ends.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could not be shoehorned into what I already talked about.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held right up to the end, by starting things off the right way, the mystery of the spy was handled quite well, enough so that things were not that obvious regardless of whether one read it through the serial publications or volume releases, the kids were able to have their first true success against the adults, and the ending had me wondering more about the world and the truth of what is going on, this was another great read to start off the year.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, nothing really bothered me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering how there was quite a bit to like and nothing to hate, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of The Promised Neverland, those that want to see a good battle of wits, and those that want to see a mystery handled right, as they will like this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but I would recommend reading the previous volume first, so that this volume could be enjoyed to its fullest extent.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or either buy the reviewed title or preorder the next installment from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so I can check out more volumes from this series and find more worthwhile reads for you guys.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.