13 May 2011

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

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.

  • Beware: Angst-y Review
  • I think the books that have clearly definitive categories of This is Bad and This is Good do not classify as really good books.  So when I say “This is a mixed bag” I mean that it’s kind of muddled in my head and some things can go both ways in my mind depending on the situation.  Not here.  For Nevermore, there were numerous things that I liked and many things that I didn’t and there wasn’t a lot of middle ground.  And for me, the negative always seem to outbid the positive.
  • The Negative -
    • The MC:  The main character is The Critical Aspect of whether or not I will truly enjoy a book.  If I can’t “see” everything through the character’s eyes, or if the character is so Not Me that I can’t relate at all, then the book will hold little enjoyment for me.  Sub characters can’t really hold up a book, no matter how good it is.  My point?  Isobel annoyed the fudge out of me.  It was mostly her lack of aggression.  Sometimes, you just gotta slap somebody, or at least put your foot down from time to time, but Isobel clearly didn’t think so.
    • For example, with Brad…dear God.  That boy would have been in Trouble if he’d been my boyfriend (if I was ever delusional or drunk enough to let him be my boyfriend).  Isobel was completely blind (typical) and was way too weak-hearted.  So in culmination, she came off as a stereotypical blond cheerleader who’s only real appeal was her sometimes quirky thoughts.  If Kelly Creagh was attempting to show that not all blond cheerleaders are dumb, she didn't get very far.
    • What drew her to Varen is still unclear to me.  It should have been a critical part to the development of the first half of the book.  But even at the end, when love is announced, I’m still lacking conviction.
    • Speaking of development…Isobel didn’t have any.  At one point I was hopeful but then she was a complete idiot with Pinfeathers and I just let it all go to hell.  I started to skim over the last seventy-five pages because Isobel was so predictable.  At the end, I couldn’t believe how stupid she was to buy into everything she heard.  That annoyed me to no end.  This girl obviously never watched Criminal Minds or NCIS or whatever your favorite crime show happens to be.
    • Varen:  So he’s no Sarah Dessen hero, but could we at least see some type of defining characteristic other than his facial piercing and choice of clothing?  Oh, and could we please, please get away from his “piercing eyes” as well?  We get it.  He’s intense.  Let us move on, yes?  It was similar to Twilight in how much focus was on his looks.  Tired of that.  Let’s get some fresh air.
    • I did like how Varen had some different things going for him.  He would call Isobel out on things and I started to have hope for his character before he sent Isobel The Note and I resorted to my first eye roll of the book.
    • Gwen (the handling of): Why wasn’t Gwen a more critical character?  Why wasn’t there any development around that?  So she heckles Isobel for a while, gives her a ride and then…nothing?  Seriously.  Gwen could have been a truly awesome character, but the little we did see of her was really good, even as she tipped between fan-girl and loner.  (Then again, I guess there isn’t a rule that says you can’t be both.) 
  • The Positive -
    • New (External) Plot: Meaning, it was a great plot outside of all the (lack of) personal development.  Sometimes it was really slow, but most times it was exciting and the new take on Poe?  Absolutely brilliant.  I have never seen anything like that before and I was fascinated with how Creagh presented Poe’s stories brought to life.  Also, I could see mention of references to “The Raven” hidden slyly in the prose as I read. 
    • And her brother.  I liked that addition and how unique it was.  I suspect that most books will make reference to their dorky younger brothers, but this is the only one I’ve seen where it goes into more detail and shows more examples of just how dorky they are.  But the love shown there was a great addition as well.
    • Average to Excellent Writing:  Most of it was average writing, but there were some real gems of truly excellent prose.  The sudden turn around at the end, where the character Realizes Everything could have used some work but otherwise, I loved the progression of the writing and how it never seemed too forced.  For a debut, this is a really good foundation for further development.  I want to see what else Kelly Creagh does.
  • In Essence -
    • All the blond-cheerleaderness aside, the plot was kept aloft by the brilliant take on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.  I recommend to those who enjoyed Twilight by Stephenie Meyer or the City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.
Book Info:
  • pages – hardcover, 543
  • published – August 2010
  • publisher – Atheneum (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
  • genre – urban fantasy > paranormal romance
  • rating – 3/5
  • received via – Secret Santa 2010 :)