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Nevernight Paperback – 19 Jun 2017
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‘If you love Robin Hobb or George R.R. Martin, you will adore NEVERNIGHT’
‘With a delicate balance of the ancient and the magical, this tense and brutal tale is unflinching, thrilling and satisfying’
‘Joins lyrical high fantasy, Pratchett-like humour and unflinching descriptions of violence . . . something special’ SciFi Now
About the Author
Jay is 6'7 and has approximately 13380 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world's laziest Jack Russell.
He does not believe in happy endings.
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There is a lot to like . The characters were well written. The plot made sense. The world building was complex.
Some people complained about the style but I found it relatively straightforward, The primary story being told by a currently unnamed chronicler with flash backs at various points in the narrative supplying motive
However there was rhird voice in rhe piece. The footnote. I ended up taking a star off for the excessive use of footnotes, combined with the irritating way they appeared in the kindle format. Let me explain. You click a footnote and got a paragraph. There was also invite to ' got to footnotes' which took you to an expanded footnote. Some of these were up to two pages long. You then had to navagate your way to your original place. This was repeated at least three times a chapter A lot of this information could have been inserted into the story or not been used at all. Who needs to know who designed a certain building and whether they had a statue erected in the builder's honour?
I also deducted half a star for writer vanity. A certain amount of the footnotes were witty comments , some addressed directly to the reader. I can think of no reason they were put in as footnotes other than author the thought of something amusing, couldn't figure out how to insert it into the narrative so decided to make it a footnote because he couldn't bear to cut it.
My advice is to read the story ignoring the footnotes intially. You can always read the footnotes on a second read through
Final rating was 3,5 stars
But I especially love fantasy that has kick-ass female leads, that takes time to delve deeply into characters without ever being slow, and that doesn't skip the steamy bits. And Nevernight has aaaaallll of this.
There's violence, magic, an assassin school, a shadow-cat, sand-kraken, and more. These things are all cool, sure, (...they're really cool...) but they aren't why I fell in love with the book. I fell in love with the characters, plot, and pace, because those three elements were perfectly balanced and managed. I fell in love with the whole story.
Speaking of characters, there is an added bonus character - the unknown narrator. When I first started reading I worried that such a narrator would be intrusive, or irritating, but this was not the case. Not for me. I remained fascinated with the narrator throughout, but that fascination did not take over the story. The further along the book I got, the more I fell in love with his/her/its wit and voice, and the narrator remains a mystery that I am in no rush to solve.
I saw that someone else found the footnotes frustrating in the e-book version. I read this in e-book form, and I really enjoyed the footnotes, and found them easy to navigate. Each to their own, I suppose.
Now, at the risk of this review making it sound like Nevernight is all about sex (it's totally not. Some sexy stuff happens, but only a few times - mostly it's just an awesome story) I wanted to talk here about the sex scenes. Because they are well done. And not just because it's some 'tastefully written smut'. But because our young, sexually inexperienced female MC takes control of her own sexuality in a way that I thought was empowering and also believable. I feel like Mia says to herself 'That's my sexuality, thank you very much, so I'll be taking it, and I'll be using it, and I'll be doing what I want with it when I want because it's MINE. And I won't be feeling guilty about it at all.' I feel like I hardly ever see this, particularly when the main character is female and young. I wish I could see this more often when the subject of female sexuality comes up. In books. In life. You know.
Oh, by the way, if you are the sort of person that thinks that swearing ruins the poetic beauty of a work, this might not be for you. Because this author swears elegantly. And sometimes, it seems, just for the fun of it. I, for one, think that's f*#cking fantastic.
Lastly, Nevernight ended on a note that left me satisfied, but with enough open ends to have me hanging out to start the next one. The perfect way to end the first book of a trilogy.
Super all round. I'll be recommending this series to all of my friends.
The book's biggest weakness is in the inconsistent morality, immorality and amorality of its protagonist - an assassin - and her overall objectives, which appear to be to destroy society. Hard things to persuade an audience are sensible or reasonable.
Worth reading if you're a fan of school fantasy.
It's good. Is it the best? Hard to say. But it's good. Very good. Read Jay ' s other books as well and liked them. So yeah, well worth it. Can't wait for the others.
Top international reviews
You'd have thought with a title referring to the constant daylight thanks to three suns (a concept explored by Asimov before Vin Diesel was even a twinkle) would have a significant bearing on the story, but other than a few throwaway comments about thick curtains, it is irrelevant. The planet would have to have a fascinating orbit for the suns to continuously illuminate the planet's surface in a cycle with brief darkness once every 2.5 years but the ecological and geophysical ramifications of this are disappointingly unexplored, other than a sprinkling of words to describe the passing of time unpunctuated by periods of night. Don't look for any hard science fiction here. Apart from the snappy title, it might as well be Earth.
I liked Mia even though she is basically a boy with no real girlishness at all - it's depressing when this kind of thing is described as a "strong female lead" as if being strong must mean abandoning all traditionally feminine qualities. She talks like a boy, she thinks like a boy and she fights like a boy. She is also a bog standard hero in that she is an orphan seeking to avenge the nasty deaths of her family by training as an elite assassin, a common theme in contemporary fantasy fiction. Unlike her peers, she has a Pulmanesque, ghostly feline familiar and a Zelaznyesque ability to manipulate shadows which helps her creep about and kill people. Once she settles into her studies, we're basically at a twisted Hogwarts staffed by homicidal psychopaths with gruesome alternatives to sickbay and the Floo Network. I can't see any advantage for the Red Church as they blithely kill off students at a worrying rate, poisoned, stabbed, tortured and encouraged to prostitute themselves for extra homework merits. Sadly, Kristoff only dwells on six of them, barely granting the other pupils/cannon fodder so much as a name. Even so, I was swept along by the story and it was only belatedly I realised how much he glosses over so much of what it is the students actually do all day, hurrying straight to the competitions to earn the dubious honour of being top of the class. Ultimately this is just a barbarous Mallory Towers for the Millennials and Mia's trials and tribulations with her fellow students are nothing new. The identity of the bad guy, when it comes, is no surprise at all.
It's worth £2.50, but I'm not tempted to pay £8 for the next installment.
This book was very intense, violent, bloody, dark, and most intriguing. It is a story full of revenge, survival, pushing one’s limits, and perhaps even a higher calling of sorts. There is magic and mysticism. There is searing light and whispering darkness. There is cruel wealth and cunning poverty. There is endless mystery and blunt truth.
NEVERNIGHT was a solid read for sure but even so it didn’t quite capture my heart.
I must say it is very well written. I enjoyed the dual timeline writing style that switched back and forth between the present and key moments in Mia’s past that slowly revealed who she was and what she could become.
Oh, and I will emphasize that this book is a dark fantasy. It is not a romance and it is not a fairy tale. I know you’ve read plenty of books that are quite dark and edgy but even so there is a light to hold onto, usually found within the vein of romance. I’m just warning you now that that is not the case in this book. There is no love in this story. You may read this book and think you’ve found some, and indeed you may have, but this is a story about assassins and their path has no room for partners.
Overall this was a very good book and while it didn’t overwhelm me with that first-read magic it did light a little spark inside me that I’ve no doubt will grow over time. Even as I type this review I can feel my fondness for this book growing (some books have me buzzing with adoration but while it flares brightly enough for a glowing review, after a few months it has flickered and abandoned me. This book, I’d wager, has sunk its claws into me and is here to stay). I don’t know if this makes sense but, I’m captured by this book but I don’t love it. Then again, this is a book of assassins, there is no room for love.
NEVERNIGHT slits your hopes from ear to ear and lets all thought of happy endings bleed dry. Dark, captivating, and without mercy a tale unfolds about a girl who was more than a girl with a cat who was less than a cat. Let the shadows darken and dance, let them tell you their story.
Read my FULL review here: [...]
Additionally the story is narrated by a third party whom in reducing numbers during the book interjects comments which I felt unnecessarily interrupted the flow.
Having said the above I did persevere and was rewarded by a greatly improving and ultimately very good book. I would recommend it to anyone looking for strong female characters. This is what I imagine JK Rowling would have written if her famous series had begun more in keeping with how it finished, which is in no way to suggest this is children's story. Dispossessed, downtrodden but unusually gifted, our heroine Mia learns enough to gain her revenge.
But for my confusion with the authors style at the start I would have given this book a 5 star. Sorry Jay Kristoff, that missing star is more a reflection on me than you I suspect, but thank you very much for this story it did eventually hold me enthralled.
For every moment of brilliance, and honestly there really were some that blew my mind, there were three moments of sheer boring, flowery, simile laden, passages. There was one line near the begin that went along the lines of 'the mouse was as black as the night, in a house as blue as the sky, in the garden as green as the jungle floor.' From there I just kept noticing everything was as something as something, and it really bothered me. I don't even want to talk about the footnotes, so distracting.
Mia was kick-ass, Mr Kindly was fascinating, Tric was adorable, and there were so many other characters that were equally interesting. The entire host of characters, the setting, and the idea of the assassin training school just couldn't counterbalance the writing style for me. I totally struggled with it. I'm going to persist with the series, because the end was great, and there was a lovely twist. I really hope for more of that and less of everything being as dark as darkdawn.
I will be honest, when I started reading it I thought "omg, where did I get myself into..." because that writing style is...dense to say the least and those footnotes sometimes can throw you off the story pretty easy, especially the first few chapters, when I didn't know anything about the world it can be quite confusing (hence the 0.5 fewer stars). But once I got past the first chapters and I kept reading the writing style didn't bother me at all and I enjoyed the explanations and humor of some of the footnotes.
About the plot, I found it very interesting, I would say that it keeps getting better every chapter. There are several twists through the book, some I saw them coming, some I didn't, but I enjoy them nonetheless.
About the characters, I really liked them, especially Mister Kindly :3 Each character is interesting in their own way and they are not black and white, they are gray and black XD
Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, the characters and plot are very nice and I will be following the series. But the writing style won't be for everyone, so be aware of it if you are thinking of reading it ;)
I've came to the conclusion i can't.
It's a different take on the classic light vs dark/good vs evil. I think as humans we're somewhat conditioned to think that anything that stands in the light is good or godly and things that go bump in the night are scary. This book turns that on its head.
It opens with chapter one which is a bit strange but a majestry of the english language and imagery. Jay Kristoff uses his words like a weapon, in having 2 very different firsts side by side competing for which seems like the worst. A young girl having sex for the first time vs the same young girl killing a man for the first time. 2 little deaths in the same chapter using the same phrasing. It seems like the sex should be the celebration however he's turned that on his head and after killing the man, the girl appears triumphant.
Although a girl isn't quite the right description for the little crow, pale daughter.
She's 16 yes, but is some ways much older. The story unfolds in stages, her first memory of her father being hanged as a leader of a rebellion cause, a patriot on the wrong side of the line. Her mother and brother thrown in prison. She vows revenge and travels to an elite training school? Maybe. For assasins.
Jays world building is astounding. We're thrust into this land where it is Nevernight. There are 3 suns and holy men which worship them. The girl has the abiloty to cloak or manipulate shadow - a perfect skill for an assassin but not in this land where the sun never sets it seems.
On her journey is the people she picks up,one of my favourites i must admit she meets straight away. She attempts to find out more about these shadow powers of hers, at the same time completing the first year of this gruelling school year and trying to keep her end goal in the front of her mind.
Kill those responsible for destroying her family. Kill those that live and worship in the light, that killed her whole family, whilst she hunts in the dark.
Like i said, a classic troupe turned on its head. You root for her, you want her to do well. You're 100% behind her, even though she's trying to do an awful thing, a truly evil thing. If you do something bad for good reasons is it still bad?
I can't recommend this book enough. Well done Jay Kristoff for pulling out an amazing fantasy, which is part of a series but can be read as a standalone - a true feet in this day and age.
Mia Corvere is the daughter of a prominent family in Godsgrave. As a little girl her father got caught as one of the conspirators of a rebellion, trying to overthrow the men in power to put a King on the throne again. Her father is executed and her mother and baby brother taken captive. Mia is supposed to be silently executed as well, but with a little help from the shadows, she escapes. In Mia’s world, three suns adorn the sky and it only rarely ever really gets dark: the True Dark. Most ‘nights’ are called the Nevernight. Mia has a companion called Mr. Kindly. He is a cat, but not just any cat. He is made entirely out of shadows and consumes fear. The reason Mia has Mr. Kindly as a companion and the reason she can manipulate the shadows and the dark, is because she is Darkin. There are not a lot of people like Mia, she herself has never even met another Darkin.
Mia grows up under the tutelage of Mercurio, an old man who was trained in the Church of the Black Mother to be an assassin. It is Mia’s dream to find the Church, get trained as an assassin and become a full Blade so she can take revenge on the men who killed her father and tore her family apart.
Though for the most part Nevernight reads as a Fantasy assassin book that is borderline Young Adult, it suddenly takes a turn for the lustful and erotic. Kristoff doesn’t shy away from some detailed descriptions of Mia’s sexual escapades. Although unexpected, it brought a whole new flavour to the book. A bit more tense, a bit more adult and risky. Throughout the book I developed a massive girl crush on Mia and I can now count her among some of my favourite female characters, right next to Nona Grey from the Book of the Ancestor series by Mark Lawrence. I think those two would get along!
As might have been hinted at by my mention of the Book of the Ancestor series, I absolutely love the Assassin School type of stories. They usually combine the grittier kind of tale with some of my great childhood favourites like Harry Potter. Another aspect I liked in Nevernight was the Song-of-Ice-and-Fire-esque type “nobody-is-safe” feeling. Kristoff definitely doesn’t hold back and is not afraid to brutally end characters’ lives. This adds tension to the reading experience because you never know what might be lurking around the next corner, or in the shadows.
I thoroughly enjoyed Nevernight. It has the right balance of adventure, tension, twists and exhilarating fights to keep you flipping the pages. Nevernight is only the start of a trilogy that has now been completed with Godsgrave and Darkdawn. I’m curious to read what these books bring next for Mia and if she will get her revenge in the end.
Firstly, this narrator is absolutely fabulous! I also love this author's writing style, it's funny, it grabs you and I can't believe I haven't started this series sooner. Wow what a read. It's right up there on my top reads of the year!
I fell completely, head over heels in love with Mia. I want to be her (minus all the stuff she went through as a kid!) She is just so sarcastic and funny! There was 1 part when I hated her....but it was for the greater good!
The characters and the world were fascinating. My faves were Mr Kindly and Naev. And then there was Tric. I didn't just love him, I LOVED him!
Then there was 'that bit'. You know THAT bit. With Tric and Mia. Omg pass me a fan!!!! I was gagging for something to happen between them....
And sadness. Sadness overtook everything for me. People dying left right and centre and my world shattered. Waaaaah.
Gimme more of that.....book 2 please!
The second thing I'd like to say is that it is a wonderful book and your day/week/month will be better for having read it. The world Mia lives in has all the hallmarks of grimdark fantasy, but where the self-satisfied "oh God, it's all so dark, it's all so terrible, I'm DEFINITELY a better person than all those other fantasy readers because this is LITERATURE" usually turns me off, Nevernight is a wonderful work with a fantastic sense of humour and footnotes that would do the late great Terry Prattchett proud.
The good guys are nasties, the lead bad girl is ... greyish rather than dark.
An upside down view of the eternal battle where there are many shades of black or white.
The swearing is almost constant, that may cause second thoughts for some. Obviously the violence, too. There is one mild sex scene at the beginning, and a few graphic ones later. For myself, a bit less detail would have got the message across, but the authors choice.
Just keep in mind this is a novel, no one is actually getting hurt or being sworn at, and give it a try.
I loved the humour, mourn my favourites, could adopt Mr Kindly and Eclipse, and will get the next book.
An unusual read for me - enjoyed it!
The Red Church’s school for assassins is fascinating and as complicated and as full of wonders as Hogwarts – I’d love to visit, if only it weren’t full of killers. The characters within its walls are just as wonderful, each one is different. Although I loved a lot of the characters, Mia is definitely my favourite. She’s a wonderful female character – complex and well-motivated, she manages to be both kind and completely ruthless. Tric is a wonderful character too, a believable male lead without the ‘love-interest’ part being overdone. He’s got his own story and doesn’t fall into either of the ‘perfect boyfriend’ or ‘bad-boy jerk’ traps. I’m really hoping he’ll somehow make another appearance.
Have not read such an epic tale in a long time. Loved it! Highly recommended.