Thursday, 22 December 2016

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff // the good, the bad and the ugly

Title: Nevernight
Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre: Fantasy
Warnings: graphic gore, violence and sex scenes
Rating: 2 stars
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As a starter I thought I'd give a heads up - this is 110% not YA despite some goodreads tags. The characters are teens, but the contents of the story are most definitely adult.

My enjoyment of Nevernight flickered around a lot, making it very tricky to review. So here's it summed up as best I can.

The Good

  • Mia's powers were really cool. I mean, really cool. She has power over darkness and can create cloaks of shadows, with the assistance of a cat-that-is-not-a-cat who feeds on her fear.
  • The parallels between differently violent desires were very well constructed, especially in the opening chapter. I don't enjoy erotic books at all but even I can appreciate it was very well written. It reminded me a lot of the themes in Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber - another book dealing with types of stories that don't interest me yet I can appreciate the craft.

The Bad
  • The writing was too puffy - there was too much sweeping language and too many epic metaphors when there really didn't need to be. IT WAS TOO MUCH. At times it was PAINFUL to wade through. If all the puffiness had only been cut out then the sentences that were actually relevant would have been so much more powerful.
  • The little * references distracted from the flow of the story. Big time. I stopped reading them after several chapters because they'd disrupt my reading rhythim and I'd forget what was happening. It was a shame, because I think a lot of the world building took place in those sections. If I'd read them I may have understood what was going on better. It just read like how I'd write a draft, so it didn't really work for me.

The Ugly
  • There was a really uncomfortable idea that beauty is what gets you places. And it's not countered. It's embraced. In a very grotesque way. Rather than Mia being allowed to be a deadly girl and that be enough, she also had her appearance violently altered - as though how she looked was in her way of success. And this was even worse with characters with even more prominent physical differences. It was as though the book was giving the message that beautiful people cannot be scarred too, and I hate that.
  • Nevernight actually has some prominent racist undertones. The Dweymeri are described as violent, savage and rapists. And I'll give the author some credit - these things are acknowledged to be the thoughts of uninfomred characters. But the only kindhearted Dweymeri we have to break these generalisations is Tric. Mixed race and a child of rape, he was brutally treated by the Dweymeri who suggested he be drowned for what he is. There's also a lot more discussion to be had on if the Dweymeri are based on the Maori people, but I am very uneducated on the culture and so I will direct you to this post which is way more informative than I could ever be.

I think you can imagine my issues here. Because, as with many problematic books, there were parts I enjoyed. But ultimately, even without 'The Ugly' in this book causing me great discomfort, I can't deem it any higher than 3 stars due to it's (at times) painful to read writing.

A copy of this book was provided to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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