Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicles, #1
Format: eARC, kindly provided
by the publishers via NetGalley
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
My rating: 1.5 / 5
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?
-- As seen on Goodreads
*I received an eARC from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This didn't influence my opinion in any way.*
In theory, Nevernight should be the book I’ve always wanted to read. If I find out assassins will be a main feature of a book – or if a main character is an assassin – you can bet I’ll be planning on reading it the minute I can get my hands on it. So when I saw what Nevernight was about you can imagine how hyped I was to read it. A school for cold hearted assassins set in a medieval Italian-type world?! YES! It has to be freaking awesome, right? Well… in practice, it’s not so simple.
I had quite a few issues with the book, but the more I think about it, they all revolved around one central issue: the writing style. Good grief, it was unbearable. Let me warn you, if you like a crisp, straight to the point writing style, you won’t find it here. On the other hand, if you like dense, overly descriptive writing styles thicker than tar, then this book could be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t usually have any issues with densely descriptive novels! I’m usually the one that will like books that others might find overly flowery and off-putting. Unfortunately, Nevernight was my breaking point and I couldn’t take it seriously.
I’m of the opinion that well placed metaphors and similes can add so much to the overall atmosphere and readability of a story. Okay, let me clarify: metaphors and similes that make sense add to a story. But when they’re overused or abused, I find they distract and take the focus away from the plot, characters and overall atmosphere. For my tastes, adding descriptions for the sake of adding descriptions, or describing the same thing five different ways in the one sentence feels forced and a bit pretentious. Seriously, I was expecting Nevernight to be an action packed story with lots of stabbing and murder, not a bloody thesaurus filled with incomprehensible and over written metaphors! Sometimes I hadn’t a clue what the author was even trying to say. It’s like if you’re standing at the top of a tall building and look out the window hoping to see a beautiful view, but all you can see in front of you dense fog. I know there is a story I could love here, I just couldn’t see it. Also, if I ever read the word ‘gentlefriend’ again, it’ll be too soon.
Another thing that didn’t work for me was the footnotes. I read an eARC and they appeared at the end of each chapter which meant I could choose to skip on and search out the corresponding note, or wait until I reached the end of the chapter and read them all in one go. By the third chapter, I ended up skimming over them, and by the fifth chapter I ignored them completely. Maybe if I could have read them in sync with the rest of the story I might have appreciated them more, but for my tastes, they felt unnecessary and distracting.
My opinions on the characters didn’t fare much better. I guess it would be easiest to say I was neutral toward them all. Mia, while she does have an antihero slant that I’m usually drawn to, didn’t appeal to me that much. I suspect the events that happened at the beginning of the book were supposed to instil some sort of sympathy for her, but it didn’t really work for me. Maybe it comes back to the writing/narration style, but I didn’t feel connected or sympathetic to any character in the book.
While the concept of the story is everything I look for in a book, Nevernight turned into an unexpected endurance test. I’m not too sure who I would recommend this book to specifically, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say if you enjoy the writing style, you’ll most likely adore the book. If you’re a little concerned about the flowery prose, my best advice would be to try out a few sample chapters and see whether it might suit you or not. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t enjoy Nevernight. It was one of my most anticipated 2016 releases, and I was almost positive I would love it. In practice, unfortunately, we just didn’t get along.