Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight

Graphic. Explicit. Brilliant.

If those first two words don’t bother you then focus on the final one. If you have issues with graphic or explicit then do not read this novel. I loved Nevernight. It took awhile to really dive into the world. However, once in there is no coming out.

The first chapter introduces us to Mia in one of the most brilliantly written yet graphic scenes I’ve read. We witness Mia losing her virginity and committing premeditated murder on the same day at age sixteen. Kristoff uses almost the same sentences, dialogue, and sometimes the exact same phrases for each experience. The chapter goes back and forth between the two. It is disorienting at first. Then it dawns on you what is occurring on these pages. I’ve never been so impressed with scenes of this nature. 

Her last nevernight in this city. A part of her didn’t want to say goodbye. But before she left, she’d wanted to know. She owed herself that, at least. “Are you sure?” he asked. She’d looked up into his eyes, then. Took him by the hand. “I’m sure,” she whispered. – pg 5.

 

Her last nevernight in this city. A part of her still didn’t want to say goodbye. But before she left, she’d wanted him to know. She owed him that, at least. “…are you sure…?” the cat who was shadows asked. The girl watched her mark slink toward his bed. Nodded slow. “I’m sure,” she whispered. – pg 6.

Mia Corvere is an assassin in training. She curses fluently with a cigarette between her fingers and a gravebone stiletto strapped to her wrist. After a few trials she becomes a student to the Red Church, a mystical league of assassins. This first novel in the trilogy takes us through her time training to become an official member, and Mia’s past that led her to this collection of murderers. Oh, and she has a pet shadow cat. As in the cat is made of shadows and Mia has control of the dark. This is significant in a world with three suns and a true night only once every few years.

Mia’s past is just as heartbreaking and horrific as her present. The Republic executed Mia’s father as a traitor before her eyes. You’ll have to read Nevernight to find out what happens to the rest of her family. Those suns cast long shadows over her life.

Tric nodded. Gifted her a smile. “Wisdom, Pale Daughter.”

“Fear not, Don Tric.” She smiled back. “I won’t let it go to my head.”

I really enjoyed Tric, a fellow assassin in training and romantic interest. The interesting side characters kept coming. Hush—the boy who doesn’t speak, Ashlinn—the cunning best friend, Cassius—the only other person Mia has met with the same power over shadows, and the many teachers of the Red Church keep things very interesting. There’s also the female Draco Malfoy antagonistic foil in Jessamine. Nothing better than a rivalry between teenage assassin girls trying to be the top killer student.

As for style, I think there are three kinds of writing: the good, the bad, and the brilliant. Good writing is the kind you don’t notice. All you see experience is the story. Most readers seem to want this kind. Bad writing is so bad it is noticeable. It pulls you out of the story. I’d rather trash these books than cringe through them. Brilliant writing is when you see the story but also notice how great the writing. Some people, even if they love the written word, hate being pulled out of the story even for beautiful technique. Many reviews despise Nevernight for its brilliant writing and creative metaphors. The writing pulls you out of the story at times. You notice the creativity. Avoid this book if that isn’t your favorite flavor.

Her lips and the flesh beneath her eyes seemed perpetually bruised, and her nose had been broken at least once. If her face were a puzzle, most would put it back in the box, unfinished. All in contrast to what you’ve been told by your poets, I’m sure. But she wasn’t without her charms, gentlefriends. And all your poets are full of shit.

The narrator of Nevernight tells Mia’s story as a long ago history. This is reinforced with the annotations at the bottom of most pages. They color the world with a vivid history, mythology, and slang. I read each notation as I went. It was exhausting at times but certainly helped me understand Mia’s story. I look forward to reading it again without their interruptions though. This novel may drive you to chuck it across the room if you hate history. Personally I loved that element.

Nevernight

For those wondering how a book this graphic and explicit can be YA… it’s not. While the main character is sixteen you’ll find Nevernight in the adult fantasy section. It would receive a rating of MA for it’s content. Kristoff normally writes YA which confused many about it’s genre. O, Daughters, be warned this blackened novel ends in a twist for the ages. Still interested? Good because this novel is one of the best.

The Rating

At some point in your life you walk into a fancy restaurant dressed in attire you don’t see in those People of Walmart photos. You may order a steak or lobster tail. Either way it is a meal that you savor with each bite. After the appetizer, salad, and entree fill you to the brim you look over the dessert menu. Now, if you were at Texas Roadhouse you may pass on the dessert knowing you’re far too full. But at this kind of restaurant you make sure to enjoy the best the world have to offer. You order whichever item seems the most decadent.

The waiter presents it to you. The plate may have chocolate drizzle or a trail of streusel surrounding the torte or tarte or pie. A edible gold leaf sits atop the dessert. It looks like a painting you can’t touch in a museum, the definition of too good to eat. You finally give into tasting the artwork. The layers of chocolate and caramel and hazelnut blend on your tongue. The sugary mix coaxes you into a candied dream. What you first thought as pretentious and a ridiculous presentation becomes the greatest dessert you’ve ever had.

Nevernight looks pretentious with its artful writing but the story pulled me into one of the best stories. This book is the epitome of a restaurant’s fanciest dessert. It leaves you wanting more. Some reviewers have noted they couldn’t get past the writing style, annotations, or narration. I admit, it took a while. Once you embrace the flair it becomes a story unlike any other. It is graphic and intense. Yet I’d highly recommend Nevernight to any with the guts to survive the journey.

As for me, I’m dying for round two.

The Nevernight Chronicles

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