Miss my review of volume 1? You can find it here!
Emma, Norman and Ray continue their mental games against Mom and her newly arrived helper, Sister Krone, in volume 2 of The Promised Neverland.
Emma continues to act as though nothing happened with Mom as the trio begins formulating a strategy on getting everyone out. They decide that they are going to attempt their escape in 10 days, but need to do some extensive training of the younger kids in preparation.
To this end, they begin to play more intensive games of “tag” with the younger children in the forest in an attempt to improve their physical and mental abilities. From hiding their tracks to masking their breath, kids as young as 4 and 5 years old go through this regimen with Emma, Norman and Ray at the helm. Their games are interrupted by Sister Krone one day as she expresses interest in playing as well. To her surprise, the kids are playing a rather elevated game of tag, but she displays her own level of ingenuity by developing patterned leaves for the younger kids to discover, and exercising her superior physical abilities to chase down and uncover the older children. She even discovers Emma, though she’s hamstrung by carrying two smaller children with her.
Norman and Ray, however, elude her grasp. Her self-imposed time limit ends their playtime as she admits to having been bested by the boys, realizing that Isabella’s children are indeed special.
The entire sequence of tag was a real thrill for me. The movement of the kids and the structure of the “hunt” was an edge of your seat scene, despite the fact that Sister Krone wasn’t an active or hostile threat. This was still a “game”, but on both sides you could get a sense of the real consequences. Each discovered child would essentially be a death sentence were the demons on the prowl, and the fact that Norman and Ray eluded Sister Krone would surely mean punishment for her for being unable to secure her targets.
The story continues as the primary trio discovers that there is likely a traitor among the children. Not intentional necessarily, but a traitor who is feeding information to Mom nonetheless. Norman devises a strategy to uncover the traitor, only to discover that it ultimately leads back to someone far closer than he originally suspected: Ray.
Ray explains that he is indeed Mom’s plant, though his relationship with her is complicated. He discovered the truth of the house 6 years prior, and in exchange for not being shipped out, has provided information to Mom. However, he reveals to Norman that this is ultimately a double cross that has been many years in the making. He would continue to feed information to Mom, but keep her off of Norman and Emma’s tail as much as possible. He also asks Norman to be prepared to leave the other kids behind when they make their escape.
Norman understands the pragmatism of leaving the kids behind, but is torn between doing the logical thing and helping to satisfy Emma’s desire to save everyone. Still, he agrees to Ray’s terms.
In the midst of all of this, the kids decide that they need to bring more of the older children into the fold if they are going to be effective with their escape plan. They decide to let Don and Gilda know what’s going on, though they edit some key details: rather than letting them know that they are knowingly being grown as demon food, they confess that Mom is “selling” the kids to “bad people”. Though it takes some convincing, both Don and Gilda ultimately agree to help. For a split second it appears as though Gilda is the mole when Sister Krone pulls her aside, but Gilda does well to stand her ground and make it through to the other side unscathed.
The volume ends as the children discover the location of a hidden room within the orphanage. Newly inspired by his friends mission, Don pick-pockets Mom in a flash to secure the Master Key and invites Gilda to go check out Mom’s secret room. What will they find? Will Mom find them first? Guess we’ll have to wait and see!
The Promised Neverland continues to deliver some grade-A storytelling without relying on over-the-top action or unnecessary drama. With such an emphasis on intelligence, it certainly plays into the wider themes of cunning and strategy that The Promised Neverland takes its time in building the framework for an impactful confrontation. The introduction of Don and Gilda as additional lenses into the larger problem helps to keep the character lineup fresh as well.
I’m certainly looking forward to the next volume, and wonder how they will continue to evolve in their storytelling techniques. Definitely check it out over at VIZ if you haven’t had a chance to yet!
The Promised Neverland (Volume 2)
- Has a certain "Lord of the Flies" feel, but with more cooperation
- Character dynamics grow more involved and interesting with the addition of new children of interest
- Isabella continues to grow more compelling as a villain
- Krone seems a bit flat/predictable