I’m so excited to start the new section of the blog – #TCJReads! I wanted to branch out to writing about other parts of my life that I am passionate about. And reading definitely has been since I was a child. Blogging about this is also an attempt to get more confident & develop my own style in writing. I hope you enjoy my first book review on Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. Feel free to answer the questions at the end of this article – in fact I can’t wait for you to tell me what you think.
Book 1 of The Nevernight Chronicle Series
Death, gore, murder, violence, blood, torture.
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?
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff Review
Have you ever tried to read a book that promised you a new world, that was immersive and unique but kept disappointing you every few turns?
Nevernight was one such book for me.
Yet I HAD to finish it.
I’m not someone who has to finish the book out of principle or habit. So why?
I loved, LOVED the concept.
The idea of a brave, young girl (Mia Corvere) who joins a school of assassins in order to get revenge. Her mysterious affinity to shadows and the animals born out of them that eat fear to survive. You discover along with her who she is – a ‘darkin’, with a rare ability to command the shadows.
I enjoyed the new world he built too – a world where night only comes once every two years and people go mad trying to sleep and dream in constant, harsh sunlight. The war between two opposing gods, one of the light and the other of the night each demanding strict sacrifices to the cause. Our protagonist on the side of ‘Niah, Goddess of Night, Our Lady of Blessed Murder’.
The political system of Nevernight and the names of the characters reminds you of Rome. It has senators and the royal guard, and even a church dedicated to the Goddess of the night which our Mia eventually goes to get initiated. There’s also a Venetian touch with a carnival and gondolas.
This system also means there’s the Big Bad guy who kills her family because her father chose to protest against his rule, who refuses to step down as the king and kills anyone who tries to do anything about it.
It’s him & his cronies Mia wants to kill. When you read about her first encounter with death where she sees her father being executed, you WANT it for her too.
Never flinch, never forget, never fear. This sort of brave, bad-assery is what makes me excited about Mia.
The school Mia eventually joins and learns the art of murdering has interesting classes- how to fight with different weapons (and the blades sang), poisons (herbology 101 for assassins anyone?), subtle arts (the art of seduction), how to steal anything off of anyone, etc. They’re intense & usually the cost of failure is death.
The author does not hold back in writing violent fights, sexually explicit scenes (albeit, only a few) and blood-thirsty characters. There’s more than enough slaughter, blood and murder to go around. While it may not have as much gore as Game of thrones, it has enough.
With the dark, there’s also the light. I adored the dialogues between Mia and her shadow cat– they were sassy, sarcastic and loving. The other students in the school too had heart & fire – people I won’t easily forget.
But despite the good points, there were some ill-fitting parts about the story that left me frustrated.
Let’s start with the metaphors and descriptive prose.
“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, the pages leave their marks on us. Indelible as the ink that graces them. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of words. A girl with a story to tell”
The metaphors in the book is what made me pick it up in the first place. But I obviously didn’t catch that the author didn’t use them only as necessary in the book.
After a few chapters, It. Was. Just. Too. Much!
Soon it felt that they were there less for the sake of the plot but more to show off the writer’s ability to create them. Some of them were just weird.
“Tric gave another half-hearted stab, but the beast had forgotten its quarry entirely, great eyes rolling as it flipped over and over, dragging its bulk back below the sand, howling like a dog who’s just returned home from a hard turn’s work to find another hound in his kennel, smoking his cigarillos and in bed with his wife.”
If you’re someone who likes descriptive writing, then this won’t bother you. It is a matter of personal taste, in the end.
Next, the footnotes.
I got excited in the beginning because it reminded me of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, which uses footnotes INCREDIBLY well. (That series is one of my favourites.)
The ‘let-me-pull-you-down-a-peg’ tone of opinion the narrator affects in the footnotes along with the history, definitions and backstory of the universe that were initially amusing soon got too much as well. There are some pages where the footnotes are over half the page! Perhaps it needed an appendix simply for it.
It also distracted me from the story as they were on nearly every page, so soon enough I had stopped reading them altogether. I wish most of those points were integrated into the story instead. And no, skipping them did not make any changes to my understanding of the plot or the pace.
Lastly, the sex scenes.
Why did they have to be so tedious and drawn out like badly written fan-fiction? I’ve read a lot of good & bad erotica from books and fanfiction alike – and I could not bear to read the sex scenes here after they crossed two paragraphs.
Now, I finished Nevernight because I still wanted to know what happened.
Did Mia become a certified assassin, a ‘Blade’? What did she lose for it? Why is she who she is? What will the other darkin in the school reveal to her about her identity? And what of the boy she (and I both) got soft on?
So you see, it does get you invested in the characters. Enough for me to take these characters and tinker around with them in my overactive imagination.
I will probably read the second book (Godsgrave) too – I still want answers! If I have to skim and read it to get what I want, I’ll do it.
But I’ll be honest – the book could have been MUCH better. It has left me feeling wanting & underwhelmed. And that’s not a thought you want to be left with if you love to read as much as I do and don’t have much time to do so.
Get Nevernight By Jay Kristoff
If you’re willing to try out the book and you like descriptive writing, then try the book yourself.
I bought it from the new Bahrisons store that has opened outside of DLF Saket, New Delhi, India. It also has a cafe coming up- definitely check that out when you’re free!
Have you read this book?
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comment section!
If any of you has some helpful criticism about how I write or tips to write better, don’t forget to drop me a comment. I’ve started this section to get better and more confident in my writing skills. 🙂
Until next review folks.