„Ask the Dark“ by Henry Turner
„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.
Ask the Dark is an absorbing first-person thriller about Billy Zeets, a 14-year-old semi-delinquent in a deadly tango with a killer.“
I had a lot of trouble getting into this book, and I think for the most part, it’s Billy Zeets‘ fault. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like him, he actually grew on me quite a bit. But, the whole story is told by him, in his own voice and words, into a tape recorder. Some problems I had with that:
Billy is a 14-year old boy, telling you a story. Which means, he lets his mind wander a lot, and tells you a lot of things that really don’t matter, or really don’t make sense. The result of that are a lot of boring lengths in the beginning and the middle of the book.
I did like that he does pick up on stuff (social queues etc…) differently than a grown-up might, or I as a reader did. But I couldn’t figure out if that’s because of his age, or just because he is not the smartest pea in the pod. There is nothing I hate more than main characters that are stupid just for the sake of the plot, so for now I’m just going to assume he’s too young to understand.
Sadly, he doesn’t sound like a 14-year old boy at all. You know when you read a book, like „Room“ because of the young narrators voice? Well, don’t expect that here. Billy sounds very much like a grown up, sometimes, a stupid grown-up, but still, a grown-up, which gives the book a weird vibe. Like you know it’s YA, and Billy acts like he’s young and foolish, but he doesn’t sound like it.
There’s also a lot of cussing, which I did not expect from a 14-year old, but he did grow up in a strange kind of neighborhood. I don’t like it when it’s overdone, but that’s of course personal preference. The same goes for the dialect Billy talks in. I had a lot of trouble getting into it, but that could be because English is my second-language, and when Billy constructs odd sentences, leaves out letters and uses wrong tenses, it confuses me quite a lot and makes me stumble through sentences.
The story itself is worth a read. It’s something we don’t see very often in YA, so everyone should give it a try. Despite the boring lengths, the mystery around the missing boys and discovering who the killer is will grab your attention and not let go.
Billy is loveable enough as a character who stumbled into the path of a serial killer, when all he ever wanted was to buy his daddy a fruit stand.
If „Ask the Dark“ is worth the struggle through the language and dialect, I can’t say for sure. It depends on how much you struggle, and I guess you can only find out if you give it a try. Read an excerpt before you buy the book, just to be safe.
It just bugged me soo much, that I can only give 3 Stickers. The story is worth it, the narrator however is not.