Author: Jay Kristoff
Date Completed: 27th May 2017
Goodreads Rating: 2 (currently. I’ve been tossing up over whether to give Nevernight a 2 star or a 3 star rating on Goodreads. I sense I’m going to keep changing my mind and adjusting my rating accordingly)
Destined to destroy empires Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.
Six years later, the child raised in the shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.
But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.
The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student. The shadows loves her. And they drink her fear.
Part of me wanted to write a full blown spoiler review for Nevernight, but I’ll resist. (For now). Instead, I’m going to try and condense all of my confused feelings into something resembling sense. It will be longed. You’ve been warned.
I did, in the end, sort of almost enjoy Nevernight. I’ll probably, at some point, eventually read the sequel after it comes out, but it’s definitely not high up on my list of books to read. I enjoyed it enough that I kept reading, and I even had moments when I forgot how annoyed I was, or how disappointed. But then oh, gentle reader, I remembered.
For the first 250 pages of Nevernight, my overwhelming impression was one of slightly negative indifference. I even thought about giving up a few times, but honestly curiousity in the world kept me interested. Despite all its culture-borrowing, problematic elements, I enjoyed the world Jay Kristoff created. In fact, honestly, I wanted to just read about the rebellion that occurs before the plot of the book starts, rather than all this school-for-assassins nonsense. That’s still a positive though, right?
My favourite scenes were actually the scenes in the first part of the book that are written in italics. They tell Mia (the main character’s) backstory, and I was definitely a lot more interested in all the politics surrounding Mia’s past than I was in Mia’s present. (Even though it was just her backstory).
On the whole though, not even the interesting world could distract me from some of the more irritating aspects of Nevernight. I’ll list them here briefly:
- Really lazy info-dumping disguised as footnotes. As far as I’m aware, none of these footnotes added anything to the story (I stopped reading them after the first page). They were essentially all the bits of random worldbuilding authors do behind the scenes, but forced onto the pages of the book so everyone would go ‘wow look how much worldbuilding you did’. Except I didn’t. I just ignored it, and got annoyed at the space it took up at the bottom of the page. My lecturers always said that if you had to put something in your footnotes (aside from references), it was almost always either lazy or unnecessary. No comment.
- Literally all of the characters. I’m struggling to think of a single character I actually liked. Tric probably comes the closest, but even then that’s more “not-dislike” than like. Mia infuriated me. I’m so sick of the “look how strong I am but actually I have a dark past but I’ll still be a bitch to everyone” heroine. I’m all for an antihero, but fuck. Mister Kindly was just irritating (as was the stylistic decision to put everything he said in italitcs, despite the fact everyone could hear him speak). Everyone at the Red Church/School was awful. I liked Bastard, the horse…
- Pointless and unnoticed deaths of major (and minor) characters. Obviously this is spoiler af, but there were a lot of character deaths that just made me go “uh, but y tho’. With the minor characters, I felt as though Kristoff invented character names just to use them to say a character had died, whilst any important character deaths felt completely overlooked.
- The metaphors. On the whole, I don’t mind Jay Kristoff’s writing style. It’s a bit flowery, sure, but each to their own. Some of the metaphors he used were just completely ridiculous. They didn’t add anything to my reading. They either confused me, annoyed me, or made me stop reading to laugh at how ridiculous they were. So that’s not ideal.
- The twist. There is a twist. It’s fine. But honestly, it came out of nowhere with absolutely no foreshadowing at all, not even the type that you don’t notice to begin with then reread and find painfully obvious. It just felt as though Kristoff wrote to a point, got stuck, and then went “oh, I know, PLOT TWIST”. The actually twist itself wasn’t all that bad, it just felt so poorly integrated to me that I couldn’t enjoy it.
Overall, I didn’t hate Nevernight. There were even a few parts of it that I enjoyed. Perhaps, if it hadn’t been so damn hyped, I would have walked away feeling a little bit meh, but overall fine about it all. As it was, I finished the book feeling disappointed. I expected something groundbreaking, something that would keep me hooked and leave me desperate for more. And no matter how hard to try to focus on the positives, at the end of the day I was let down.