Wednesday, December 20, 2017



STORY: Kaiu Shirai
ART: Posuka Demizu
TRANSLATION: Satsuki Yamashita
LETTERS: Mark McMurray
EDITOR: Alexis Kirsch
ISBN: 978-1-4215-9712-6; paperback (December 2017); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 U.K.

The Promised Neverland is a new graphic novel series published by VIZ Media.  This is the English-language publication of Yakusoku No Neverland, a shonen manga (comics for teens) from writer Kaiu Shirai and artist Posuka Demizu that is published in Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump.

The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1 (entitled Grace Field House; Chapters 1 to 7) is set at the Grace Field House orphanage.  We meet the orphanage's three brightest children who are all 11-years-old.  They are Emma, Norman, and Ray.

Under the care of “Mom,” the children enjoy a comfortable life:  good food, clean white clothes, and the perfect environment in which children can learn and also play.  One night, however, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth about the outside world that they have been forbidden from seeing.

Because of its title, The Promised Neverland manga does not seem to be anything more than a children's fantasy story.  The word, Neverland, will always summon images of the children's paradise that is the home of Peter Pan.  However, even Peter Pan and Neverland has a dark undercurrent, an obvious truth, that broaches an uncomfortable and taboo topic.

The Promised Neverland Graphic Novel Volume 1 reveals its heart of darkness in a sudden burst in the last 20 pages of Chapter 1.  From that point on, the narrative takes a sinister tone that never changes after the first part of the horrifying truth is revealed.  Beginning with Chapter 2, The Promised Neverland reads like a summer potboiler novel that you will have to force yourself to stop reading.

This first volume of The Promised Neverland makes it clear that the series will appeal to both teenage and adult readers; perhaps, it will be appropriate for some middle school readers.  The creative team of writer Kaiu Shirai and artist Posuka Demizu are one in the storytelling – a seamless blend of story and graphics.  The result is a sinister, dark fantasy, and mystery thriller, and The Promised Neverland may be the second best new graphic novel series of the year, after the superb Children of the Whales, which is also from VIZ Media.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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