Sunday, August 29, 2010
Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
The day Isobel’s life starts unraveling is the day she gets paired with Varen Nethers for an English project. Imagine: she, a pretty, popular cheerleader having to spend time with the most sullen, mysterious, and depressing freak in school!
The more time Isobel spends with Varen, however, the more intriguing she finds him. He is a talented writer who hides himself behind a thick wall all the time. Isobel knows there is more to him than his cold exterior, but her old friends and possessive boyfriend do NOT like her spending time with Varen. As things head towards a tense climax, Isobel has to figure out how to save Varen before he is lost completely to a dark world that Isobel has never known before.
I’m not sure what to think about this ambitious debut novel. On the one hand, NEVERMORE is a chillingly intriguing exploration of the psychological changes undergone when two opposites cross paths. On the other, it is all too often plodding, frustrating, and melodramatic.
Good things first: the characters in NEVERMORE are quite unlike most YA characters I’ve read, particularly Varen. He is aloof without being arrogant, reserved without seeming hopelessly depressed. His appeal lies in these things: in a sense, he has all the appeal of a stereotypical bad boy, but his “badness” is in being so-called freakish and socially distant. And that made for a very nice combination. I always looked forward to Isobel and Varen’s interactions, because they were full of the bittersweet subtleties that real relationships are about, and not the usual insta-attraction wish fulfillment that usually abounds in YA lit.
Unfortunately, NEVERMORE felt a bit shaky for me for several reasons. I found it difficult to place Isobel: she’s not technically a nice person (as evidenced by her initial interactions with Varen), and yet she’s not convincingly mean, either. YA novelists such as Courtney Summers and Lauren Oliver have successfully proven that even mean girls can be sympathetic protagonists. And while most of the other characters are convincingly rich enough in their roles, whether major or minor, I would have liked to see more definition from Isobel. As of now she just feels like a fairly generic protagonist to me.
Likewise, I felt that the paranormal elements of NEVERMORE were not as strong as the contemporary, psychological aspects. It seems like a bit of a stretch right now to believe Isobel and Varen’s involvement with a whole other world. Nevertheless, NEVERMORE is definitely the first book in a series, and I’d be interested to see what the promising author Kelly Creagh does in the sequel. I would definitely love to see more development of the other world and integration with “our” world.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - The more I look at that cover, the more I like it. The models look exactly like how I pictured the characters in my mind, and Isobel's pink dress plays a key role in the story.
Atheneum / Aug. 31, 2010 / Hardcover / 560pp. / $17.99
ARC sent by author/S&S for review.