Hi peeps! Last month I read Nevernight, as part of our Instagram Book Club – SocialBookClub. We had discussions every week, and the members even had a Q&A with the author! After I read a book with the members, I like to share my thoughts on the book, and oh boyyyyy… this month my thoughts were VERY different! Prepare for a not so sweet review… (I was scared to type this up ok?!)
by Jay Kristoff
Published: August 9, 2016.
Goodreads Rating: 4.19 stars (4,055 Ratings)
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?
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about Nevernight, but if you haven’t, let me give you a simple description…
Nevernight is the story of a girl, who’s the last daughter of a disgraced family. She goes to a school of assassins and plans of graduating to get her revenge. Her father was leading a rebellion (which failed), therefore – her family had to pay the price and it also cost him his life. Mia is all alone and full of hatred towards the people who destroyed her family, and she will do anything to make them pay.
The book starts by describing Mia’s first time. Her first time, sexually, and her first time killing someone. At that moment I thought “what the hell did I get myself into?!” while having a strong interest to see where it would go.
But oh man… I deserve a big ass prize for finishing this book. I mean… it’s not a bad book, but it pained me SO MUCHHHHH! I had to push myself to read it, because it has a massive overuse of metaphors and adjectives… and well… this pretty lady knows English as a second language… I ain’t got no time to overthink every single paragraph to understand what the author might be saying!
Overall, when an author uses metaphors, it adds a poetic element to the novel, but this time, I felt like it was just to show off how clever the author can be. Sorry, Jay… I wasn’t feeling it, I even got a headache a couple of times.
AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE FOOTNOTES?! This disrupted my flow of reading EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I know some people loved them and found them to be “witty”and funny, but not me. The footnotes should be there to add a bit of information, or when you want to explain something a bit more… BUT THERE’S HUGE PARAGRAPHS AS FOOTNOTES! I couldn’t handle all the new information. At one point I just started to skip them, and the book turned slightly better.
I think the plot is fantastic, honestly… at times I did understand what was going on and overall, this book is INTENSE! I love the whole “assassins school” idea and the reasons why she’s doing this. I was expecting a book with violence and blood and just pure awesomeness. I really wanted to enjoy this, but I didn’t, and I can’t give a good rating to a book that had me lost most of the time.
There’s been talks about this book being problematic; and I hate to admit that if I hadn’t read that information, I wouldn’t have known. My review doesn’t touch the topic, which is why I decided to link to someone who does talk about it. The culture people are referring to, is not a culture known to me… which is why I think it’s important to link someone who IS part of the culture. Here’s a blog post talking about the harmful rep the book has – written by Anjulie Te Pohe.
Moving on… as always, I like to add my favorite quote from the book to my reviews… and honestly, I can’t remember why this quote was said, but it is my favorite:
“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.”
Anyway, my conclusion of the book is the following:
Problematic or not, I didn’t enjoy the book, and I think my reasons are fair enough.
As part of our book club activities, we had a Q&A with author Jay Kristoff. If after reading my review, you would still like to check it out, just keep reading! Jay was actually very nice and open to receiving questions, so I thank him for taking the time to do so.
Q1. As someone who reads a lot of young adult / adult fiction, I have to admit that your book Nevernight stands out by having a different format; is there a particular reason as to why you’ve added footnotes to this book?
I’m a person who was raised on big, door-stopping epic fantasy series, and I loved delving as deep into those world as I could. When I fall in love with a series I’m reading, I want to know as much about the world as I can, and I really enjoy learning details that, while they’re not 100% relevant to the story at hand, still make the setting and series feel real.
BUT, I realize that just isn’t everyone’s jam. So, I covered off the more granular aspects of the worldbuilding in Nevernight through the footnotes. That way, if you’re the kind of person who likes that level of detail, and enjoy some fourth-wall breaking from a snarky narrator, it’s there for you. If you don’t, just skip the notes and you’re not going to miss out on something super important.
Plus, I just like footnotes. I like books that break away from the the norm.
Q2. How many books can we expect in this series?
Three. Part 2, Godsgrave, is out September this year!
Q3. Is Godsgrave going to have special editions (stained pages, signed editions, etc) like Nevernight did?
I’m talking about that with my amazing UK publisher Harper Voyager at the moment. I promise I’ll have more details soon!
Q4. Is there an specific culture that inspired you or you used as a reference point while writing Nevernight?
Ancient Rome and Merchant Prince venice were my big touchstones. I’m a massive Roman history buff. My wife and I got married in Rome. If you need someone to talk for hours about the history of the Julian dynasty at your next dinner party, I’m your fkn guy.
Q5. We notice that Nevernight is promoted as a Young Adult book, while it has a lot of violence and situations that might not be suitable for some. Is this something you intended or do you believe this is a book for an adult audience?
To my knowledge, Nevernight isn’t promoted as a YA book by any of my publishers, or myself. I think some bloggers/readers (and goodreaders) assumed it was YA because of some of my previous work, but the book is published by adult imprints. The FAQ on my website rates Nevernight as MA (for mature audiences).
That said, I think the book is entirely suitable for teenagers. I was reading Stephen King when I was ten years old. There’s nothing more violent in there than what’s on your television set during prime time, and the sexual content, while explicit, occurs between consenting partners. The idea that teenagers don’t talk about or have sex is puritanical, and demonstrably false. Conversation is infinitely preferable to silence.
Q6. What is one book you always recommend to anyone looking for suggestions?
There’s no “one book” that works for everyone. However, I am a huge fan of Courtney Summer’s ALL THE RAGE, and rec it whenever I can. It’s the most important and powerful book I’ve read in years.
Q7. Are there any other projects you’re working on that we should be on the lookout for?
Indeed! I’ve sold a new YA project to the awesome folks at Random House Kids (the amazing folks who brought you ILLUMINAE). The new book is called LIFEL1K3 (series hasn’t got a name yet). There are some preliminary details here. You can find it on Goodreads here. The first book in the trilogy is out in 2018!
Also! I also have a new series with my regular partner in crime, Amie Kaufman. This series is tentatively called the ANDROMEDA CYCLE, and will be commencing once the ILLUMINAE FILES are concluded. First book in this new series is due for publication in 2019. You can read a little about it here.
I also have an idea for a new epic fantasy tooling around in my head, but I’m not allowed to even look at that until one of my four current series is finished 😛
Q8. We’re getting a little personal here, but ARE YOU REALLY 6’7? Is your family composed of tall people or are you an outlier?
Yep, i am indeed 6’7, which is freakishly tall. It sounds awesome until you try to fit in an airplane. My dad is 6’6. My mother is 5’11, my sister are tall, too. So yeah, we’re a family of giants 🙂
Thanks for checking out the Q&A we had in Social Book Club, this club is open to EVERYONE via Instagram, so feel free to visit us a join the fun!