Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 7th 2015
Length: 6 hours, 39 minutes
Genres: Action & Adventure, Boys & Men, General, Law & Crime, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
ARC provided by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
“Ask the Dark will keep you up all night, and its flawed, real hero will haunt your day. I wish I’d written it.” —Michael Grant, New York Times best-selling author of Gone and BZRK
Billy Zeets has a story to tell.
About being a vandal and petty thief. About missing boys and an elusive killer.
And about what happens if a boy who breaks all the rules is the only person who can piece together the truth.
Gripping and powerful, this masterful debut novel comes to vivid life through the unique voice of a hero as unlikely as he is unforgettable.
“Ask the Dark is absolutely remarkable. Readers will line up for this one.”—Michael Cart, past president of YALSA and ALAN
Billy is a 14 year old boy who is constantly in trouble. Ask the Dark is his retelling of the ways that he redeemed himself and his family for the whole town to see. This is Billy’s story.
This story starts at the end. Billy is some sort of hero for what he did, and so he proceeds to tell us the whole story. Kids have been disappearing and there is a curfew to try to keep everyone safe. Billy is a rule breaker, and a juvenile delinquent. He vandalizes and breaks in and steals from his neighborhood. Over the summer Billy learns that his father, a single dad, is about to loose his house. His sister is out running around with the town bad boy and now it is up to Billy to try to make enough money to save the house. In his wondering he finds a suspicious character in the neighborhood. No one will listen to Billy about his suspicions. What if Billy is right?
This story is told entirely by Billy. His accent comes straight through the text as it is written the way he tells it. This was a bit off-putting at first, because it is a bit hard to understand. Billy is really just an uneducated kid and his thoughts and language reflex his lack of depth. I hated that the story was told in his voice only. There were times when I got used to it, but mostly it was very annoying.
Billy is not a hero all the time in this story. He is regularly teased by kids in his neighborhood, and doesn’t win most of the fights he is in. Billy has a bad reputation as a trouble maker and no one trusts him. He is a bad kid and people around town have good reasons not to trust him. I felt like the narrator gave us almost too much detail about Billy’s story. It was more than we needed to know to understand what happened.
Between the awful narration and the dragging story line, I ended up not enjoying this story as much. The last few chapters did have me on the edge of my seat because it is just so thrilling. This story wasn’t as frightening as I had hoped. It makes for a good middle school tale, but wasn’t captivating enough for this adult to enjoy it.