Book Review: Nevernight

Written by: Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicles
Sequence in Series: Book 1
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin; reprint edition
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
ISBN-10: 9781250132130
ISBN-13: 978-1250132130
Genre: Dark Fantasy

I was surprised to find how polarizing reading this book was for so many people. People who loved it likened it to a dark Harry Potter for assassins. Those who hated it couldn’t get past the prose.

I admit, I had a difficult time with Jay Kristoff’s book Nevernight. The narrator was disruptive, especially in the beginning. However, the juxtaposition of the initial scenes was so well done, I pushed through. Then, once you get used to the writing style of writing for the sake of the sound of the words rather than for their meaning, it’s really a pretty book. You just have to not look very closely at the similes and appreciate how the sentence feels in your mouth rather than how well it makes sense in your head.

Some of the characters were rather phenomenal, I particularly liked the poisons teacher. However, there was a major character discrepancy in the main character with whether or not she was ok with killing innocents. It seemed to depend on what day you asked her as to the answer you would get, so it was surprising that this sentiment was a major hinge point in the character’s story arc. The other character trait that got to me the most was the main character’s companion, Mr. Kindly. There were only so many times I felt it was necessary to point out his ‘not-eyes.’

The world was reminiscent of, well, if Venice and Rome had a baby and it became the graveyard of gods and giants. I’m still on the fence about the way the world building was done, via footnotes by the narrator. It added depth to the world in a way that it might have been difficult (but not impossible) to build into the actual story line. But at the same time felt lazy and a little like straight out info-dumping at times. The mythos and history of the world was immense though and I was thoroughly impressed by this aspect.

The school was a fun romp but also confusing in its wheedling out of students. There are only four courses and you have to come out top in one of them in order to graduate into the elite assassins. It seems to me that this would provide for a more lopsided talent rather than someone well rounded enough in skill to murderize people for a living.

Despite all of this, I enjoyed the book. It was just different enough to keep my attention and the ending was a pleasant surprise insofar as the who done it and who lives to see tomorrow. I do intend to read the next book, I’m just not in a hurry to do it. I’ll get to it eventually and once I get used to the stylistic writing again, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

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