Goodreads rating: 4.19
THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE
I don’t even know where to begin, to be honest. I’m still reeling after the insane plot twist that I 100% DID NOT SEE COMING JAY Y U DO DIS TO MY HEART, so my emotions are very very jumbled right now. But I really really enjoyed this book. It’s honestly a must read for fans of fantasy and anyone who loves intricate world building. Nevernight packs all the punches: good characters, compelling plot, twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Reading it was a roller-coaster experience. I’m still dizzy.
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.
Nevernight and me… we didn’t start off too well. For the first 150 pages I was legitimately debating whether to put it down and save it for later, because I had a really hard time getting into it. The writing was dense, it was difficult for me to follow and I just wasn’t really enjoying myself. Add to that the extensive world building, and the footnotes that were scattered on almost every page and I was ready to give up (footnotes are the spawns of Satan, fyi, just wanted to put this out there). However, talking to friends who told me it will suddenly pick up and that I should try stick it through (YOU CAN DO THE THING, MARY, GODDAMN IT), along with the fact that I was genuinely intrigued by the main character, helped me power through. Once I passed that critical mark, the story just…fell into place. I wasn’t confused anymore, I was hooked. It was like someone turned on the light. I had grown accustomed to Jay’s writing and to the language of the book and things suddenly got a lot more entertaining. And bloody. But mostly entertaining. Jay crafted such a page turner and I was constantly on edge, trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. Ah, good times. (I still didn’t see the damn thing coming CURSE YOU JAY)
I absolutely loved the characters and their development. Mia’s story is one of struggle and revenge and heartbreak. She’s a wonderful protagonist, witty, smart, strong and unapologetic. I think what I really enjoyed was the fact that all the characters are morally grey. There’s no black or white in Nevernight, just as there is no proper day or night. Everything is just shades of grey. The supporting characters were a treat and all of them memorable and with a significant part to play. I think the word that mostly encompasses the essence of Nevernight is complexity – from the plot to the characters to the writing.
Speaking of the writing, I had a love/hate relationship with it for the first third of the book. As I mentioned before, I had trouble getting into it and it was partly because the writing was pretty dense and metaphoric. I was enjoyable, but it made it pretty difficult for me to always understand exactly what the writer was trying to convey. I got accustomed to it eventually, but it was a bit of a struggle. It was beautiful, though, so my issue may partly be due to a language barrier, since English isn’t my first language. That being said, I slowly got into it further on and I have to praise Kristoff especially on dialogue, because he’s brilliant at it. So much sass! And even though I said that footnotes are the spawn of Satan (which they totally are shut up), I have to mention the hilarious sarcastic commentary going on in them. The shade. The sass. It was just A+++.
Now on to some not so happy things.
First off, this is not a Young Adult book. I have no idea why people are saying it’s YA, but it’s not. It’s pretty violent, bloody and gory. Not to mention that there are several quite explicit sex scenes. So bear this in mind if these things are triggering for you in any way.
Secondly, something that bothered me was the “beautification” process the initiates go through. I don’t think it sends the best message when it comes to body image and self acceptance. I can kind of see where the author was coming from when writing it, but I still think it can be dangerous and generally a trope to be avoided.
Thirdly, there are people who have claimed the depiction of the Dweymeri people is racist. I will link a blog post here, where the author explains the problematic issues. They are mostly related to how the Dweymeri are based on the Maori people, which leads to cultural appropriation. Also, the Dweymeri are described as brown skinned, with tattoos on their faces, which are the result of rituals within their culture. I won’t comment more on this, because I’m not the person to do so, but I urge you to read the article I linked above.
All these being said, I overall really enjoyed this book. Despite the rocky start, I found myself turning page after page. I’m so, so interested to see where the story will go on in the next book. If you love fantasy, you need to read this. But don’t expect something magical and fluffy. This story is dark and twisted and sometimes hard to swallow. But it’s soooo so good.
“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of the words. A girl with a story to tell.”
“You’ll be a rumor. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. The last thing you will ever be, girl, is someone’s hero.”
“The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.”
To everyone who got this far, thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts