I'm doing my weekly book recommendation a day early while I'm still aware of everything (I've descended into the world of Warriors of Ankh and it's taking a lot to pull me out). This week I'm recommending a book that has been out since last year... but I only recently became aware of it...
amazon - hardback £8.87
Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.
Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.
As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.
His life depends on it.
Well, they say never judge a book by its cover. ‘Tis true. ‘Tis true. I would not have picked up Nevermore if it hadn’t been for an extremely well-written review that absolutely raved about it.
I am so glad I picked it up.
Kelly Creagh has created one of the most vivid worlds I have ever discovered. If a book could be described as IMAX then Nevermore is that book; the characters and scenes sprang from the pages of the book to play out in front of me in striking clarity. In a word, it was wonderful. I don’t know what I was expecting. Perhaps a run-of-the-mill supernatural teen romance – to me that’s what the cover says. But Nevermore is so much MORE. It’s gothic and creepy as all hell sometimes, but there is also a perfect blend of realism and social drama. I loved how Creagh highlighted the cliques at high school and the way certain people are seen for the way they look and act – goths, jocks, cheerleaders etc. She does this without being cliché, and actually brings attention to the often dangerous consequences of making people feel ‘other’.
As for the characters of Nevermore… I fell in love with them all. Isobel is the perfect teen girl’s voice. She cares about school and cheerleading and what her friends think about her, but the slight shallowness of what she deems important is offset by the strength of her character. And Isobel is definitely a strong character with an ingrained sense of right and wrong. Best of all she has the courage to go against the grain and stand up for what’s right when she sees wrongdoing.
Varen is that guy in school I would have had a crush on; dark and broody with the soul of a poet. He can be sarcastic and cold but he has a vulnerable side and a great backstory, and who doesn’t love that in a hero?
Other characters that really shone for me were Danny – Isobel’s annoying and hilarious little brother (the sibling relationship was beautifully described, I really believed in it) – and Gwen, who is quite possibly one of the funniest, quirkiest and likeable sidekicks in YA fiction.
The supernatural element of Nevermore is really different; Creagh’s use of Edgar Allen Poe’s works to build a storyworld is so original and fantastically done, and having not read everything by Poe there was probably some great subtleties I didn’t even pick up on. As I said, this is gothic YA, and there are some very creepy moments, all of which kept me hooked and intrigued. My only criticism of Nevermore would be that I felt the last 15 to 20% could have been edited down. As we were pulled into the dreamworld I found myself skipping some of the description, impatient for some understanding in the sensationally surreal universe Creagh created. However, that alone is not enough to drag this down from the five star rating it deserves.
I can’t believe I have to wait until 2012 for the next book. Not fair.
Darkly beautiful and utterly captivating.
Five Massive Massive Stars!