Nevernight is by one of my absolute favourite authors Jay Kristoff and did not disappoint! Filled with badass characters, betrayal, furry companions and a heart pounding storyline, this book has morphed fantasy and dystopia together seamlessly.
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.
Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.
Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.
Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?
Let me start off by saying this isn’t strictly a YA book, despite what it may seem. Yes, our kickass heroine is in fact 16 (same as me, though sadly I’m nowhere near as badass as she is…) but this book is about an assassin, so there’s definitely some violence in there, as well as some *ahem* rather steamy scenes… I’d say this book is more in the crossover genre (or MA or NA, depending on what you prefer) due to it’s more “mature” content, but it does have lots of YA elements, so if you’re a fan of YA fantasy and the odd bit of raciness, then this is for you!
I wouldn’t be being a good book blogger if I wasn’t totally honest in my reviews, so I must say I wasn’t sure about this book at first. I mean, I wanted to love it, I needed to love it (I couldn’t think badly of half of the brains behind Illuminae) but I really couldn’t get my head around the fantasy world I found myself in, or the countless use of metaphors. It seemed like a lot of description that wasn’t actually telling us anything more than just one sentence would have, and the pace was quite slow (I mean, this is a big book and I wasn’t even making a dent in it). But then it all changed. I came to about 1/4 of the way through and suddenly I LOVED it. I’d started to find my way around the fantasy elements, I understood Mia’s character, I was completely in love with Mr Kindly (more on that further down) and the writing was superb.
I think once I’d realised this wasn’t a YA book so therefore was slightly slower paced (this however proved to just be the beginning – it gets really gripping!!) and had more descriptions than I’m used to finding in YA books, I was able to really connect with the story for what it was, not what I expected it to be. It turns out this book is really quite amazing; it’s got all the violence I love in a book (not sure what the word “love” says about me there…), a brilliant female lead, badass assassins, naughty scenes, a completely adorable Mr Kindly (every book needs a Mr Kindly – I’ll be getting to him in a minute), sarcasm, dystopian elements and more! What more could a bookworm ask for?
One thing I do find a little bit irritating about this book is the extra information that’s given at the bottom of the page. Whenever extra info is needed, footnotes give related information like background history, bits of sarcasm from the narrator and more. I did find these extra bits of info very useful for finding out about the world and the history of it, but it really slows the pace of the book down. I ended up skim reading the extra bits just so I could get back to the main story, which is annoying because the info is helpful and interesting, but I prefer reading the story. Also, I couldn’t work out whether using this technique, however well it worked, was a bit lazy. Instead of embedding the history in the text, it was given to us separately. I’m glad in some ways Jay Kristoff did choose to do this because it stopped one of my all time pet hates of the main character reciting the history of this new world. I just wish it hadn’t slowed the pace down quite so much.
I should note here about our “narrator”. At the very beginning of the book there’s an intro from our “narrator” who’s identity is currently (not sure if we’ll find out or not who this person is) unknown. Our “narrator” is the one telling us the pieces of info at the bottom of the pages which is quite odd. I’ve never read a book that does it like this, because the whole way through it just feels like a “normal” (as much as a book with assassins and shadow cats who speak can be normal) book until you reach the parts where the narrators voice comes through, because then you’re left thinking “who the hell are you and what happened to Mia?!?!” Our narrator also starts off by telling us that Mia’s dead now, which is somewhat of an interesting way to start a book, and also sets off alarm bells in my head telling me NOT to form any attachments… whoops, too late now!
I really really really love Nevernight and everything in it, but my absolute favourite part HAS (yes, this warrants caps and italics!) to be Mr Kindly. He’s a cat made of shadows who talks. We don’t know if he’s a demon or exactly what he is, but I love him regardless. I’ve always been one of those people who prefers animal characters to human ones, especially those of the feline variety. One of my all time favourite films is Kiki’s Delivery Service because it features Gigi, a talking cat (just like Nevernight does!) The voice in the english version of the film is so perfect and exactly what I imagine Mr Kindly’s voice to be like in Nevernight, it’s that same sarcastic, dry tone that both characters have that fits so well with the story. Nevernight really is like a dark version of Kiki’s Delivery Service (minus the witch elements and niceness) so this made the book very close to my heart. My Kindly also is the perfect companion to Mia and their interactions are priceless – I laughed A LOT when I read their passages and I still haven’t got over them (I even wrote some of them down to make me smile when I need it!)
I still haven’t recovered from Illuminae and Gemina, and Nevernight is no different. Jay Kristoff is such talented writer and now, along with Sarah J Maas, is my favourite author. His imagination is so vivid which really comes across in his work and I have absolutely no idea how he comes up with such intricate, if bizarre, worlds and concepts. I guess that’s his secret to tell… or not!
One other thing I loved about Nevernight was how Jay Kristoff (despite not being a female) gave Mia such a realistic voice and gave the book a feminist quality I really related to. In this case when I say feminist I mean it made me feel empowered to be a female. He doesn’t glorify sex, instead shows it for what it really is for girls. He also makes comments on things like the word c**t being a compliment because it implies brains whereas the word c**k implies stupidity: Quote: ““C**k is just another word for “fool”. But you call someone a c**t, well… you’re implying a sense of malice there. An intent. Malevolent and self-aware”…. “Someone calls you a c**t, you take it as a compliment””
You can find this particular quote on pages 59 and 60 of the UK hardcover – trust me, it’s better than it sounds!!
So overall, I seriously loved this book and couldn’t recommend it more. Despite the odd irritating parts, Nevernight is one of my favourite books ever and I can’t wait to reread it ready for book 2!