Surprisingly 2020 turned out to be a pretty good reading year for me. I fell a little behind on reviews towards the end there, but I’m working hard to catch up. I hope you enjoy my very first review of 2021. It’s a long one.
One of the goals I had set for myself in 2020 was to finally finish reading Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.
Initially I had started reading it in Jan. (2020) but about 30 pages in, I made the mistake of buying another book on my Wishlist and needless to say I abandoned Nevernight. It definitely had nothing to do with like the quality of the book and more to do with just what I was in the mood to read.
And, even though Nevernight was not the book to start 2020 on, it was definitely the perfect way to finish it off.
After her father is publicly executed and her family is torn apart, Mia Corvere vows to destroy the three men responsible.
Her only hope of bringing the men to her own kind of justice, is to seek out The Red Church, a school where the world’s finest assassins’ are made.
Mia soon discovers that finding the church is only one of many challenges she will face going down this road of shadows and revenge. If Mia wants to even get a shot at her targets, she must first claim one of four coveted spots to become a blade. As Mia competes in a game of thievery, trickery and violence, she struggles to stay true to herself and to recognize what exactly it is that she wants.
To say that I was blown away by Nevernight would be an understatement.
On my first attempt at reading it, yes it was a little intimidating and that probably contributed to me just being in the mood to read something a little different. Luckily though, by the second (or technically the third) attempt, I’d already had another adult (new adult) high fantasy novel under my belt. So it did feel a little more approachable. I was able to really enjoy it and it easily became my favorite book of 2020.
As with anything and everything I love, it still has some flaws.
One thing that stylistically is a bit distracting – and I’m sure that Jay Kristoff has probably heard this about a million times already because I’ve seen him joke about it on Twitter – is the footnotes.
I don’t necessarily hate the footnotes but actually, in reading Nevernight, I realized that I am very much a sort of one-track mind type of reader.
For me it wasn’t easy jumping back and forth from the story to the footnotes. At some point I just gave up. I didn’t like essentially having to pause the main story to go off on a tangent most likely having to do with the world-building.
That said, I wouldn’t really fault the book because of the footnotes. The additional information is worth reading, but I would much rather do a separate read through of the book where I focus on just the footnotes rather than read them as I read the story.
Now with that out of the way, there are a few other things.
For starters I want to just say that Lord Cassius turned out to be the most disappointing character in the whole book. I obviously can’t say everything I would like because spoilers, but yeah. I was just unimpressed by him. He was supposed to be the strongest The Red Church had to offer and I don’t feel like I necessarily saw that in his character development. In the end though, it’s a minor detail. The protagonist is Mia so in the grand scheme of things, there was enough of him.
Another thing, and I don’t know if it was just me looking in too deeply. But, at some point I became hyper aware of how to indicate the passing of time, there was just a mention of falling into routine. I feel like a lot of authors do this in one way or another but what was different with Nevernight was that I definitely noticed it more than once. And, seeing it more than once almost made it feel like in those parts the story was being rushed just to get to the next high action scene.
Lastly, and this is another small detail, it was kind of hard for me to picture Mia as a sixteen year old. She reads so much older, and I kind of wish she was older. Some of the things she does just make a little more sense to me personally if I picture her as older than she actually is. There was clearly a disconnect between how her character comes across and her character description if that makes any sense.
On a more positive note, I really do think, the good aspects of the book overshadows anything that could be considered bad.
When it came to world building, action, characters, overall story, Jay Kristoff did a fantastic job.
Every year we bring new faces into the flock, sharpen you to the keenest edge. But as honed as they may appear, some blades are simply made of glass.”
“A shard of glass can slice a man’s throat. Pierce his heart clean. Open his wrist to the bone. But press it in the wrong place, glass will shatter. Iron will not.”– Cassius & Mia (page 204)/ Jay Kristoff
I think I’ve mentioned in the past how much I enjoy books with great world building and Nevernight definitely hit the mark. A lot of world building was in the footnotes which I didn’t read but I could tell from glancing at them. Even so, in the story itself it just felt like the world building was so deep and extensive yet easy to understand. I feel like even in having skipped the footnotes, I have a pretty good idea of the structure of this world.
In addition to that, the way the story is written, there are approximately no small characters. Almost every character had something about them that made them unique. It really helped in remembering names, which is great because there’s a good handful of characters. In essence, I like the attention to detail. I like that even characters that could be considered “background characters” had something of a personality.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Nevernight though, was that it had a little bit of everything. There was romance, action, conflict, betrayal, mystery and coming of age, to name a few things. And, it’s incredible how Jay Kristoff wrote all of these elements so well.
One thing in particular is a plot twist that happens towards the end. While I was able to foresee some plot points, the plot twist itself actually got me (and it got me good). It’s been a while since I’ve genuinely been surprised by a plot twist and I loved it.
Without a doubt, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is definitely a 5 star read. I recommend it! It is the first book I’ve read by Jay Kristoff and I will definitely be reading the next two books in the Nevernight Chronicles series, as well as checking out his other books eventually.
Like I said, it has a little bit of everything so I think a lot of people would enjoy reading this book. Although as a New Adult book, I do think that if you are a young teen (13-15) maybe hold off on reading it until you are at least sixteen.
P.S . I would’ve really liked to put this review up in Jan. but I was being a tad bit lazy. I hope you enjoyed reading this review because I really enjoyed putting it together. Some parts more than others. Until next time, which I hope is soon.