Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Title: Nevermore
Author: Kelly Creagh
Publisher: Simon &Schuster/Atheneum
Release Date: August 31st, 2010
Pages: 543 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

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.


The project Mr. Swanson has due on Halloween, the night of the big game, is bad enough, but what makes it worse for Isobel Lanley is that she's paired with resident Goth kid Varen Nethers, who's got a sharp tongue and feels just as unhappy about working with her. It sucks at first, but then it starts... well, not sucking. She doesn't see her boyfriend and friends the same way anymore and Isobel starts to pull away from them and finds herself pulled to Varen. Then strange things start happening, like hearing voices whisper her name and seeing people where there shouldn't be anyone. It all has to do with Varen and to save herself, she's got to save him too.

I really don't know where to begin. There are those books that are so wonderful you can babble about them for hours and then there are the books so good you don't know what to say. Nevermore was the latter. I don't know why it took me so long to pick up this book!

The "cheerleader/prep falls for Goth" storyline usually induces eyerolls, but it works well here. Isobel's snotty attitude is quickly grown out of and she loses most traces of being the cheerleader stereotype. Better yet, she's likable! This is one girl that doesn't deal with bull, even--especially--when it's her boyfriend Brad throwing it around. If other YA paranormal heroines like Luce of Fallen and Bella of Twilight had as much of a backbone as Isobel, this genre would be a better place. Neither Isobel nor Varen are perfect fits for their stereotype or perfect people--they're flawed human beings that don't necessarily match their cheerleader or Goth status in every way. Just like any real human being.

And I've got to say, I had a small soft spot for some of the minor characters too. Certainly not Brad, who shares a name and attitude with my brother and should step on some Legos barefoot and fall in a hole, but Gwen's direct manner won me over. Her character felt like she existed for the convenience of Isobel and the plot sometimes, but I still liked her. And is it bad I liked the Nocs too? Characters like Pinfeathers always get to me.

Nevermore requires some patience due to the slow pacing for the first two-thirds of the book, but the plot really works overtime once it gets going. The slow pacing for most of the book could have frustrated me, but it didn't. Instead of feeling like useless fluff, all of what came before the plot's magnificent entrance felt like necessary development for Isobel, Varen, and their relationship. This is one of a select few relationships I can point at and say that this was well developed. There's never any trouble believing by the end of the book that these two love one another. Not lust, not infatuation, but love. I wasn't baffled at what these two do for one another later in the book because I believed they loved each other enough to do that.

The writing was a little wordier than needed sometimes, but it was versatile enough to perfectly describe  scenes like cheerleading practice and running through the nightmare world with ease. The integration of Poe's stories into the plot was a unique touch. I'm not the biggest Poe reader in the world (I've only read "The Cask of Amontillado" and liked it--speaking of which, I saw what she did), but you don't have to be to enjoy this book. If there's something Poe you need to know for the sake of the plot, you get filled in. Imagine rereading this once I know his stories better! There's going to be a little whiplash in going from "high school life tinged with supernatural" to "full-out supernatural" because it switches with the snap of a finger.

I am completely and utterly sold on Nevermore and will now wait impatiently in line with everyone else for its sequel Enshadowed, which doesn't come out until... January 2012, I think? Well, I know what I'll be asking for as a birthday gift. If the summary interests you at all, give it a try. This is the kind of book where the wait is so, so worth it.

5 stars for being so awesome and having something seemingly rare in YA paranormal: a romance with proper development. This book is safe from the imaginary swing of a ukulele.

What am I reading next?: Misfit by Jon Skovron