Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

From Goodreads
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.
 


Wow. That's the best the way to sum up Nevermore by Kentucky author Kelly Creagh. I met Kelly at a multi-author signing in Louisville. At the time, I'd seen Nevermore, but never really paid attention to it. It wasn't until I saw the Raven on the shelf and the Edgar Allan Poe trinkets scattered around the table that I realized the title was actually associated with Poe himself. It was at this point, my heart did a little dance.

Okay, the story starts out with an interesting (and very well written) prologue. I know, I know. God forbid there's a prologue! It's necessary, I assure you. In the case of this book, it encouraged me to read it! Creagh introduces us to Poe here in such a cool way. She brings in some little known facts about his (very real) untimely death and uses them as the basis of the story.

The first chapter soon starts off with the cheerleader Isobel Lanley being paired up for a writing project with goth-boy Varen Nethers ... much to jock-guy, quarterback boyfriend's dismay. I'll admit it. I had more than a moment's pause about the cheerleader/goth/jock thing. I don't like cheerleader/goth/jock stories, because more often than not, they end up being so cliche. However, cliche can also be defined by the quiet nerdy girl who likes to read or the misunderstood nobody boy who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. It's all a matter of plot and perspective, how unique the STORY is, and how WELL is it WRITTEN.

There's a lot of awesomeness to cover in this one, so I'm going to categorize here.

Characters:

Varen. Varen is dark and brooding at first. I wondered if Miss Author-pants could pull it off without succumbing to the Count Gothica experience we've all had in YA books. Let's face it, tortured and brooding is tough to pull off these days. Creagh nailed it! While Varen has a very dark side to him, he has good reason, and Creagh defines it beautifully without going over the top. Her ability to paint the perfect picture of him and his emotion is enviable. I think he comes across exactly how she intended, and not as a woe-is-me emo kid.

Isobel. Isobel has her ups and downs in the story. On occasion, the moment kind of fell flat for me with her or an opportunity was missed for Isobel to shine. There were times when I really didn't like her in fact. Isobel let other people manipulate her because she wouldn't just put her foot down and stand up for the right thing. She overreacted in some situations and underacted in others. All in all, she was relatively wishy-washy in the beginning, but Varen's strong character and Creagh's beautiful writing kept me in the story. As the story progressed though, Isobel gained quite a bit of momentum, growing into the type of heroine I like to see: scared yet strong; flawed yet willing. I'm eager to see how her character develops in the sequel.

Secondary characters. Isobel's friends are a group of douche-canoes. I realize that's somewhat reminiscent of high school, but it took a while for Isobel to stand up to them, and they weren't even worth her time. When she did though, it felt real. Honestly, I could've done without the others. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.


* I LOVED Gwen. I have to say she's one of the best YA characters I've ever read. Her personality is fabulous, and Creagh captured it in the most realistic way.
* Pinfeathers is quite interesting. I haven't quite figured him out yet. I really liked the way Creagh incorporated "those guys" into the story. I don't want to give anything away, but they're cool in a twisted kind of way.
* Reynolds, though not in the story as much as I would've liked, is superb. He's blurred somewhere between the good guy and bad guy. He has a job to do. While he doesn't want to hurt anyone, he looks out for the overall best interest.

Plot/Pacing/Writing:

I won't get into everything because I hate spoilers, and this one is hard not to spoil. I will say this, the plot was unique and riveting. The pace was perfect in an unusual way. There were times I was ready for it to move on, almost to skimming, but then it picked back up. Different readers have different points of "too fast/too slow". This one's on the fence, but paced just right for me!

The writing. Oh my gosh, the writing. I fell in love with the prologue and it continued throughout the entire book! Excellent writing is something insanely hard to come by. Most readers don't mind, but as a writer too, it's epically important to me. The descriptive writing is incredible, but not overdone. The sensory aspect is perfectly done, making me feel like I was there, which is tough considering the third person POV. I didn't feel like I was missing any emotion, any experience like I sometimes do with third person. Overall, the writing was impeccable.

Final Thoughts:

I've never read anything like Nevermore. It's based loosely on Poe's life and works. I'm a HUGE Poe fan, so I found this just freaking amazing! The story is definitely dark and very creepy, but it's eerily charming. I don't see it being an across-the-board success from a plot/genre point of view, but the gorgeous writing, a handful of fabulous characters, and the epic uniqueness guarantee a great read! I absolutely recommend to ages 15 and up.

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