*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Nevernight – Book 1 of The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff

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I really liked the premise for this and was fortunate enough to have my request accepted via NetGalley for an arc in return for an honest review.

nevernightIn 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.

I really enjoyed Mia’s character – the backstory that steadily emerges during her time at assassins’ school is compelling that had me engrossed and thoroughly on her side. I’m a sucker for coming of age stories set in training establishments, anyway – though Hogwarts it ain’t. The world is very effectively depicted and we get to meet a number of vivid supporting characters, who are all chilling in a world where dishonesty, cunning and trickery are prized over love, compassion and empathy – indeed the latter are regarded as weaknesses. I enjoyed the way that Kristoff demonstrates the cumulative dehumanising process of the assassins’ school as Mia continues to master the necessary skills.

This book is firmly in the grimdark section of fantasy – though in common with a number of other books with plenty of visceral violence and a cynical immorality, there is a fair amount of grindark humour running through it. I enjoyed most of it, although during the first section there were a number of apparently humorous footnotes I could have done without. It didn’t help that they thoroughly messed with the formatting of the Kindle ebook, so kept cropping up in the middle of the text in completely the wrong place. Besides, after the late, great Pratchett’s ownership of the device, I do feel other authors should give them a very wide berth. That said, they weren’t dealbreakers and I was relieved to note they disappeared in the second half of the book.

The plotting is well judged and despite a number of flashbacks and interruptions in the narrative flow, I was never yanked out of the story or confused (other than when the aforementioned footnotes made an appearance). There were several enjoyable plot twists I didn’t see coming – especially the doozy before the climactic end section which is really well done. I simply didn’t want to put the book down for the finale, having no idea how it was all going to end. All in all, a really enjoyable read.

However, I do have concern. This book has been categorised as a YA read – presumably because the protagonist is a teen and the book features her at ‘school’. I’m aware that many YA books deal with difficult issues, such as underage sex, internet porn, drugs and family breakup. In an ideal world youngsters shouldn’t have to confront these problems while grappling with the tricky business of growing up – but they do, so their fiction should also address these subjects. However, this book’s dark, amoral treatment of violence, family breakup and the very explicit sex scenes means that if you are in the habit of providing YA books for the youngsters in your life, I strongly advise you to vet this one first.

That said, I found it a blast and will be definitely looking out for the next in this series.
8/10

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19 responses »

    • I’m glad you agree that it’s not a suitable YA read… I did wonder if I was being all grannyish and over-protective – but I did boggle a bit when I realised it was supposed to be YA at the nature of the content!

      • No, not all grannyish, I totally agree! I’m not a prude, but those two sex scenes in the book (some of the most graphic I’ve ever read in fantasy) are enough on their own to make it most certainly not Y-A! And the gore as well, no, not a Y-A book. I actually wrote a part in my own review about it being classed as Y-A by some and why it shouldn’t be.

  1. I’ve had my eye on this one, especially seeing that I want to try a bit more YA and fantasy. As you know, not my normally preferred genres! Saw another review on this book, but not as positive towards it as yours! Now I’m confused. Hmmmm….. will keep it on the TBR list and see if I can get my hands on it and take it from there. I’ve finished Salt to the Sea, will try to review it today. AMAZING read.

  2. I have not read this yet, but the discussion about what is or is not Young Adult is very interesting. This book sounds good but seems to go beyond YA; depends what you want, as ever…

    • Hm. I regard myself as reasonably relaxed about such things – but I definitely wouldn’t want my 13 yr old reading this one. The cynical edginess that is grimdark and the way sex is treated, with a great deal of graphic detail and not much straightforward affection, means it simply isn’t appropriate for this agegroup – and certainly not without some very frank discussion about the issues it raises.

  3. Haha – we agree on so many points that you’d think we’d shared notes or buddy read this one! I completely agree with everything here. Shame about the kindle formatting – it just didn’t work out with the footnotes – not sure if that’s because this was a review copy although i can’t see how it would work any better. It just meant a lot of skipping back and forth, but, not a deal breaker like you said.
    I loved the characters and although this is grim dark and there is violence I also loved that there’s a constant stream of humour to break it up.
    Great book and really can’t wait for more.
    Lynn 😀

  4. Ahhh I can’t wait to read this. I haven’t read any of his books yet, but REALLY need to. I’ve heard mixed things about it being labeled YA. One thing being that the publisher mislabeled it and Jay clarified that it isn’t. So I’m not sure exactly who the target audience it.

    • Me! I LOVED it and think it ideal for anyone who is a fantasy fan. I don’t think that books featuring teenagers necessarily should be just for that age-group – I’m a real sucker for coming-of-age books set in schools/academies, etc. I really recommend it.

  5. I love the cover for this one, it’s very pretty! And that’s interesting how you slowly get to know her backstory while she works at the assassins school. I often enjoy it when a book has well done plot twists that surprise me. This book sounds really good and you sure made me curious about this one! Great review!

  6. Hmmm, that’s interesting. The book hasn’t been marketed as YA here in the States, or at least it doesn’t seem like it has. Either way, I think I’d like to give Nevernight a try – when I’m in the mood for grimdark, that is.

  7. I love the cover for this one. Very stylish. As for the books itself, I’m not sure if it’s for me, but I might be a bit biased because I really wanted to check out the author’s previous series (the steampunk Japan sounded soooo exciting), and the reviews convinced me not to.

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