After the trainwreck that was Zenith, I felt like I needed a break from young adult fiction/fantasy for a while. I tried reading some general fiction I had lying around, some ARCs that have been waiting in the corner with cold, judging stares, but I couldn’t read anything. You know the kind of book hangover you get when a book is so awful that it almost ruins the concept of literature itself for you?
Yeah, that. But then I picked up Nevernight, and having only attempted to read Illuminae by Jay Kristoff (and failing miserably, because my brain couldn’t process it), I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that I wanted something good to read after having spent a month bashing my head against a wall with the trainwreck book. And lo and behold, I freaking LOVED IT. So much so, that I’m including gifs. Why hadn’t I picked this book up sooner?!
Okay, so before I get to the part where I ramble on about how awesome Nevernight is and how much I’d love to have a cussing battle over a couple of whiskeys with Mr. Kristoff, I’ll give you a little summary.
Nevernight is the first novel in a series called The Nevernight Chronicles, and it tells the story of Mia Corvere, a young but deadly assassin with a vendetta. When Mia was only ten years old, her family was ripped apart by the treacherous and power-hungry consul and his lackeys. As she grew up, she trained in the art of death and vowed to avenge her family, no matter the cost. With powers that even she can’t fathom, she embarks on a perilous journey to a famed school of assassins that will either turn her into one of the deadliest killers in the world or leave her dead before she even gets the chance.
- Writing: Okay, firstly, I absolutely adored Kristoff’s writing style. It’s unique and weird in all the right ways, and needless to say, HILARIOUS. It was hard to get used to, at first, but once you get over the novelty of it, it becomes one of the best aspects of this book. I wasn’t expecting the amount of colorful language, but I loved that, too. As someone who is a fan of linguistic embellishments of this sort, I applaud Mr. Kristoff on his expertise in this fine art. Also, Mister Kindly is one of my new favorite characters and I don’t even like cats.
- Characters: I fell in love with Mia within the first couple of chapters. That doesn’t happen very often. In contrast to many (if not most) heroines of modern YA/NA fantasy, she was no wilting flower pretending to be a badass. No, she is a badass. Hell, even I was kind of afraid of her at some points. The rest of the cast was also very well-written and every character was well-developed, even the ones you’re meant to hate. And without spoiling anything for those who haven’t read this book: the fact that I was completely horrified and flabbergasted by the outcome with that one character is just a testament to Kristoff’s story-weaving skills. Holy shit. I wish that character were real so that I could junkpunch them. To say that I was lulled into a false sense of security would be a tragic understatement.
- Plot: The plot itself was so complex and intricate that I found myself stressing out about it. I wanted Mia and the supporting characters to be okay, to win, to succeed. While the first 30% took me a couple of weeks to get through (because I had a metric shit-ton of editing to do and couldn’t really focus on reading), the remaining 70% took me a few hours. I wanted to go to sleep, but I needed to know what happened next more than I needed sleep (at 5-freaking-AM).
I thought that this was going to be another one of those assassin-chick stories, where the heroine goes on an adventure, meets a stupidly handsome guy, and they bring down the bad guys together between bouts of awkward sex. But it was nothing like that. Sure, the main character is 16 years old and she happens to be this ridiculously gifted assassin (and there are a couple of awkward sex scenes), but the way it was executed made you forget her age and the love arc in this book was perfect in its harsh reality. All the things that other authors executed with an unhealthy dose of cheese, this author executed with finesse and originality (and no hint of dairy products). So many YA/NA fantasy novels or series make the mistake of foisting off their MCs as these prodigies who act like adults before they’ve even hit puberty, but this book makes it clear that Mia is young, messed up, and imperfect.
So, with all that being said (and be glad I’ve only rambled this much, because if I could mention spoilers, this would be much longer and more rambling), I give this book 5 bright and shiny stars. If you’re a fan of fantasy, badass heroines, non-cheesy love arcs, and witty banter, then I would highly recommend this book. This book is now tied for first place with Artemis (by Andy Weir) in my top five list.
Hats off, Mr. Kristoff.