I decided to undertake reading the Nevermore series back-to-back, and the following review is based on my general thoughts on the series overall, as well as some more specific thoughts on the final book, which releases later this month. I tried to refrain from spoilers as much as possible, in case there are other brave souls out there who've also waited five years to start this series.
Author: Kelly Creagh
Series: Nevermore, book #3
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
This electrifying conclusion to the Nevermore trilogy takes one last trip to the dream world of Edgar Allan Poe to reveal the intertwined fates of Isobel and Varen.
The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? —Edgar Allan Poe
The fine line between life and death blurred long ago for Isobel Lanley. After a deadly confrontation with Varen in the dreamworld, she’s terrified to return to that desolate and dangerous place. But when her nightmares resume, bleeding into reality, she is left with no choice. Varen’s darkness is catching up to her. To everything. Threatening to devour it all.
Isobel fears for her world. For her sanity and Varen’s—especially after a fresh and devastating loss. To make matters worse, the ghostly demon Lilith wants Varen for her own, and she will do anything to keep him in her grasp—anything.
Can Isobel ever find her happy ending? Worlds collide and fates are sealed in this breathtaking finale to the Nevermore trilogy.
I've had copies of Nevermore and Enshadowed on my shelf for awhile, but I was waiting until I could read the entire series back-to-back before I started them. And now that I've read them, I'm glad I waited so long. I don't know how I'd ever have survived not reading these books back-to-back. Talk about cliffhangers from Hell. Two years between the first two books and three years between books two and three. I'm just not down for that kind of torture...
So, I was pleased as punch to get a review copy of Oblivion, the book fans of the series have been waiting ages for. I didn't immediately dive in, though, because the sheer size of Nevermore is daunting and I knew I needed to set a good chunk of time aside for these books. Nevermore is 543 pages long, Enshadowed comes in at the smallest in the series with 429 pages, and Oblivion rounds things out at 448 pages. But of all the books, Oblivion felt the longest.
It took me a lot longer to read Oblivion than I expected it to, especially considering how quickly I tore through the first two books in the Nevermore series. I did stop in the middle to read Illuminae -- and I binged The 100 on Netflix for a couple of weeks -- and after that, I found it hard to get back into Oblivion because it is set at a much slower pace than either of those stories. Agonizingly slow at times, in fact, but atmospheric all the same.
The series starts out in our world, full of the promise of forbidden love and bucking societal expectations. But then it takes a very dark turn into a dream world ruled by the demon Lilith. I found myself nearly unable to put the first two books down. Sneaking it in at work. Diving back in as soon as I got home. The story even started invading my dreams, to the point that I'd wake up with the thought, "Lilith, is that you?" And then I'd instantly be terrified that I'd invoked the demon without meaning to, and well, if you've read the books, you know that's not a good thing.
From the beginning, I was more drawn to Varen's character than I ever was to Isobel's. His character was dark and enigmatic and begging to be explored. Isobel's character growth was rather stilted at first and I felt it hard to connect with the insipid cheerleader. But after facing her own prejudices and finding herself no longer a part of the flock, I found her character worthy of my time. She wasn't just a cheerleader any longer but a slightly Varen-obsessed dream walker.
And in a role reversal I didn't see coming, I started to find Varen's character less interesting. After the first book, his character really went downhill for me, which was probably due in part to the lack of his presence as the series wore on. It mostly became a story of Isobel running to and fro in search of Varen or some way to save him, all the while dragging her new bestie Gwen along for the ride and hoping for some guidance from the inscrutable Reynolds.
The story was a bit more drawn out in those last two books, and if not for the side characters and interactions, I might have given up hope of finishing this series altogether. But the exploration of Varen's psyche via dreams and the Nocs -- fractured parts of Varen's soul -- was enough to keep me glued to the pages when nothing else was going on. The Nocs were fascinating characters, especially as they related to those they'd splintered from, often as the worst versions of themselves. I rather adored Pinfeathers, even before I was supposed to like him, and I even found Scrimshaw only mildly detestable. The supporting cast of characters was definitely one of the aspects I liked best and quite possibly the series' saving grace.
The writing is captivating, and as I mentioned before, very atmospheric. Which means there are also pages and pages of details, about the dreamworld, about the exact shade of green of Varen's eyes, even about Isobel's cheer routines. The author left nothing out. But sometimes, reading these books got a little tedious because of all the detail and explanation. And especially as Isobel extrapolated ad nauseam on Varen's reasons or on Reynold's loyalty or on Lilith's plans for them all. However, I did appreciate the link to Edgar Allen Poe in the story and all of the research that had to have gone into writing a story like this, with Poe's legacy as the backdrop.
In the end, though, I think this series would have been better served as a duology, rather than a trilogy. Books two and three contained so much filler, and had some of that been eliminated, the story could have been action-driven as well as character-driven. As it was, the characters carried the story when nothing else was happening, and that worked, but not nearly as well it could have, had there been more happening at any given time...but most especially in the third and final installment. It was a rather lackluster finale for me, but overall, I still really enjoyed my time with this series and these characters, and though not the ending I expected, it was still fitting.
GIF it to me straight:
Yep, these books were a little like those weird dreams that make no sense, that don't follow a timeline or any rules at all, really.
Four stars for the series overall, but if I had to break it down by book, it would look like this:
Nevermore - 4 stars
Enshadowed - 4 stars
Oblivion - 3 stars
About the author:
As a child, Kelly would hold elaborate one-kid plays for patient relatives, complete with song, dance, and over-the-top melodramatics. Then, whenever Mom or Grandma called for a break, she would venture outside to slay dragons, run from make-believe ghosts and create magical feasts for fairies out of mud and pinecones.
In the third grade, Kelly wrote her first book titled Pink Lettuce, a story about a young girl who comes to the aid of her mad scientist neighbor, helping him to return his potion-pink lettuce patch to its original green and leafy luster.
Kelly holds an undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Today, she finds true joy in transcribing her dramatic daydreams onto the stage of the blank page. When not writing or curled up with a good book, Kelly can be found teaching, learning and performing the ancient art of Bellydance.
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