Book: Ask the Dark
Author: Henry Turner
Publish Date: April 7, 2015
I had a really hard time getting into this one, but I don’t like to give up on books and I am glad that I stuck with it.
It begins with a lot of back story on the character leading into the real meat of the story. Billy is 14 and has a difficult past. He was always stealing things, skipping school, getting in fights with other boys and he had that reputation around town. Billy’s family is also going through a rough time. His mom died not too long before the story takes place, his dad ended up falling off a ladder and can’t work. Because of this, Billy and his family are living off of disability and welfare checks. When I got about halfway through the book the story really started to move and I couldn’t put it down.
I also had a hard time with the voice that the book was written in. Billy narrates the whole story, so it is written in his accent and there is no quotation punctuation, so both of those things take some getting used to. About a quarter of the way through the book I started getting really frustrated with the lack of punctuation. I couldn’t see the reason for it, but there is a reason for it that you eventually find out. When I found that out it made sense and it helped me to appreciate the story more.
One of the things that I appreciated about the voice of the narration was the fact that you can tell that it is a teenage boy telling the story. He is real. He swears, he talks about things that he probably shouldn’t talk about. As a teacher who has been around hundreds of teenagers each day for the last 8 years, he sounds like a real teenager. There is a drawback to that though. Due to the language and some of the topics in the book, I probably would not recommend it to readers younger than 8th grade. I would definitely recommend this book to boys because it is rare to find a male protagonist in Young Adult literature.
I think the piece of the book that I liked best was Billy’s character arc. He starts the story still hung up on the way that he used to be and he often contemplates returning to be that person. At one point we learn that Billy made a promise to his mother when she died that he would no longer be that person, that he would start to act differently. We see, as the reader, that he spends a lot of time reflecting on the things he had done. The closer we get to the end of the book, we can see that Billy is truly changing. He becomes more aware of those around him, and, in turn, becomes more and more selfless. So much so that at the end of the book when someone asks him what he wants, he only wants things for those people around him.
I give Ask the Dark 3 out of 5 stars simply due to the fact that it took the story a long time to get going and the fact that I had a hard time with the voice of the narrator, but once the story got good, it got very good. It was fast-paced and action filled.