Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Nevermore

NEVERMORE (Nevermore #1)
Kelly Creagh
Young Adult
543 pages
Available Now

Getting stuck with black-clad, lip-pierced, goth-infused Varen as a partner for an English presentation is not ideal. For Isobel Lanley, it's downright unfortunate. But from the moment he seizes her hand and presumptuously writes his home phone number down in distinctive purple ink with strict instructions not to call after 9pm, her initial hesitancy begins to fade, replaced instead by a strange curiosity and a mild yearning.

Varen has an unusual way of looking at things, keeping a journal full of fascinating sketches and odd writings with him every moment, and as they work together on their project with Edgar Allen Poe as a subject, Isobel's priorities begin to shift, becoming more attuned to Varen and less interested in her previous popular-girl life.

Though her unexpected attraction to Varen is exciting in a way she doesn't want to admit to anyone, most of all herself, the eerie shadows and voices she's been hearing since spending time with him are decidedly less encouraging. Parallels between the mystery of Poe's death and the strange things now inserting themselves into not only her waking moments, but her sleeping ones as well are only able to be drawn through one person: Varen. Dreams and reality begin to merge, and the more time Isobel spends thinking of Varen and wishing to understand things that seem to hover just beyond her comprehension, the more danger she puts them both in.

Nevermore is a beautifully understated tale that fuses seemingly disparate elements together, blending opposing characters, dual realities, and limitless imagination into a harmonious unification that leaves only a sense of contentment and an acute longing for for more page time in it's wake. Everything is exquisitely balanced, light suffusing a constantly encroaching darkness, humor holding a threatening sense of foreboding at bay, and a delicate romance searing our hearts and providing hope in the face of utter despair. It's a story where we start on page one and in the blink of an eye find ourselves on page three hundred, the entire world having dropped away and sounds of reality silenced so all that remains is our unbreakable tether to the fascinating world that has thoroughly consumed us.

Both Isobel and Varen are fairly stereotypical at first glance, occupying common high school roles, and it would have been so easy for Ms. Creagh to allow them to snuggle into their respective cliches and move forward with a still enjoyable, but typically predictable, story that would leave this book lost in a stack of other stories from which it would be virtually indistinguishable. Fortunately for us, however, the easy route is quickly abandoned in favor of characters who are sumptuously layered and possess qualities that cause the pages on which they exist to slip away, leaving in their place a transparent screen through which we experience the events in multiple dimensions, driven to feel, see, and be touched by their experiences. Both characters are beautiful in their quiet nuances, their stereotypes never ostentatious nor overdone as they certainly could have been; instead they are reserved in a way that is incredibly beseeching, one that implores us to become emotionally involved on a level far deeper than the initial cliche would suggest.

The relationship between Varen and Isobel is perfectly depicted. There is no undefinable paranormal element that propels them together while they seek to seal their fates through desperate, forbidden kisses as their combined conflicts try to rip them asunder. Isobel is instead drawn to Varen out of simple attraction, her feelings and reactions riveting in their realism, and her interactions with him are all the more intimate for their subdued quality. Their passion doesn't ignite instantly, but rather simmers slowly but constantly, and with every page we wish them a happiness free of the darkness we know must be fast approaching.

So much of our focus is concentrated on Varen and Isobel the danger sneaks up on us, tearing us from the relationship we've come to hold dear in a short amount of time, and cleaving us from a reality we recognize to a realm that defies explanation and convention. Here, the limits of the imagination are the only parameters, and no positive outcome, however much we might wish for it, is guaranteed. The challenges Isobel and Varen face are utterly unique, and all the more frightening for their newness. We quickly come to realize we in fact know nothing, and like our hero and heroine, are but pawns awaiting instruction to aid us in our search for answers as we crave knowledge that can only be bestowed upon us by the incredibly inventive Ms. Creagh.

Stunningly tragic and resplendent in its restraint, Nevermore is a story where the quiet romance grabs hold of our emotions and refuses to let go, and one where our minds must stretch to accommodate new and fascinating possibilities. While the end forces our hearts to constrict dangerously, we are given a sliver of hope as Isobel's renewed determination to fight for what she loves takes hold, letting us know she's more than a blond cheerleader, more than a teenager in the throes of first love, and more than her new foes might accredit her. She's made a promise to Varen, and I'm anxiously awaiting book two to see that she keeps it.

Rating: 5/5


  1. Thanks for the review! Myself, I didn't like the book at all. I thought the first half was one book and the last half was another. But the way you put it "that the danger sneaks up on us" does makes sense. I think I'm one of the only people who doesn't like this book though. Thanks again for the review.

  2. Wow, this was an excellent review!
    I have seen this book reviewed around, but never got around to grabbing it!
    I think I will!!!

    Thank you!

    - Kelly

  3. YAY! So glad you enjoyed the book. What a cliff hanger huh? I don't think I can wait that long for the next book. I need it now!!!

  4. Excellent review, Jenny! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed it! I thought Nevermore was some of the most refreshing and original fiction that I've read in a long time, and it was definitely riveting. I love how well thought out your review was :)

  5. Jacmom - I can see how it definitely wouldn't be for everyone, it's always fun for me to see how we all react differently to the same book.

    Kelly - Hope you like it!

    Savy - I was so upset at the end (not mad upset, just beside myself upset), I can't wait for book 2!

    Melissa - Completely agree, it was a breath of fresh air for me:)

  6. All these reviews are torture haha. I want to read this one so badly!

  7. So happy to hear you enjoyed it! I have heard such lovely things--which surprised me, because the cover seemed so shockingly emo and weird to me. Looking forward to reading it!

  8. Michelle - You definitely should, it's fabulous:)

    Anna - Don't let the cover fool you, I thought the same thing and passed on this book for a while, but that picture is not what Varen is like at all.

    Tori - Thanks sweets:)

    Karen - Thanks so much!

  9. Really good review! I really enjoyed reading the review, too.
    This is perhaps the 2nd or 3rd review I've seen of this book, and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy myself. I like what you say about the romance, it sounds like a pleasant change.

    Thanks for posting this!

  10. wow, this is a great review. Very detailed. I cannot keep this book on the shelves at our library, it's so popular. Too bad I've have to put a hold on it just like everyone else!

  11. That review was awesome, I finished it last week and I enjoyed it, I was disappointed in the ending, I hate waiting, but I am anticipating the next book!

  12. Jenny, this review is so incredibly well-written! I am definetely buying this book now :)

  13. It took me a while to really get into this book, but those last 100 or so pages were so breathtaking and fast paced. I went from not really caring to must have sequel now! Wonderful review as always. :D

  14. I love all of your reviews, but this one tops it. I've heard so many good things about Nevermore, but I never picked it up. Your review definitely makes me want to, though. This book sounds absolutely excellent. Thank you for sharing, Jenny. <3

  15. I love your reviews, Jenny, there are so indepth without giving anything away. I must admit that I rolled my eyes at the cover because, well, it's cheesey. However, after reading a the excerpt and now you're review, I can't wait to check it out from the library.

  16. Alisa - I hope you like it! I really enjoyed the romantic element, it wasn't overwhelming at all like so many are:)

    Katie - I hope your name moves up the list soon so you can read it, I just adored it.

    Stacey - I was not altogether pleased with the ending either, but only because I wanted more and I knew I'd have to wait. Boo.

    Pirate - Thank you! I hope you enjoy it *bites nails*:)

    Adriana - The end was crazy, I was absolutely not ready for it to be over!

    Kristina - Thank you so much! I just found it to be a really enjoyable read and I was sucked in before I knew it.

    Rummanah - I'm with you on the cover, it's no good, I think it makes the story seem cheap and cliched, and it's not at all. Definitely give it a try!

  17. I've never really been impressed by the book's description, but your review is making me reconsider my original impressions. Your review was well written and very interesting, thank you.

  18. Oh man, what a great review. I think I may have to get this. Like tomorrow.

  19. Great review. I like that they aren't drawn together by paranormalcy but more by attraction. As fun as undying love can be sometimes, it's nice to have a relationship that feels more real. And it's also nice to know that the book doesn't stay with stereotypes.

  20. Beautiful review! I also loved this book (other than the cliffhanger)!

  21. 5 by 5, huh? Yup, that is pretty much what I have been reading all on the reviews I come across of this one, which always kind of surprises me because I can't get past how much I dislike the cover.

    Have you read any books in the Perfect Chemistry series? Seems like this one has a similar feel, two teens playing into their stereotypes until they realize there is more to meet the eye. But based on the reviews I've been reading, Nevermore sounds like a far better read, still I really enjoyed the PC books.

    I have this one my wishlist and will get it soon, I'm sure. Fantastic review as always. Your analytical mind never fails to impress! Don't freak, but I kind of want to lick it.

  22. Excellent review, I have added it to my tbr pile! I hope I get to read this one soon, it sounds great.

  23. Yeah! I have this and haven't read it yet. Have so many to get to. I'm so glad you liked it. I've read some bad reviews and was disappointed. I'm going in with a positive attitude!

    Buried in Books

  24. Excellent review! I've been meaning to read this one for a while.

  25. Oh boy Jenny - you've got me even more excited about this book than I already was. I seriously, seriously need to get my hands on a copy asap! I love the sound of the simmering and developing relationship between Varen and Isobel - it sounds like such a refreshing change from the usual types of stereotyped romances out there. Fantastic review as always!

  26. Wonderful review! This book is next on my to read list. :) I actually don't mind the cover - it intrigues me!

    I love the sound of the romance in this one. I can't wait!

  27. Glad to hear good things about this one! I won it in a giveaway but have been waiting to read it until Halloween this year. I've mostly heard lukewarm things about it, but from your review it sounds like it will be a book I enjoy. New follower - I found your blog through BBAW. Looking forward to reading more!