Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

4/5 stars

That was bloody good. (Get it? Cause there was lots of blood. Har har. So clever.) But it was! It was gripping, the world was intriguing, the characters were interesting, and the footnotes were the sort of dry gallows humour that I love. I did have issues with the prose – it definitely edges into electric shades of purple quite a bit, but I was willing to look past that because I was enjoying the story so much.

Nevernight is the story of Mia Corvere, the daughter of a traitor, who joins this secret murder church and has to survive assassin initiation. It’s a bit like John Wick, except if it was a prequel, and also instead of old cars, they had pools of blood, and it was also set in a fantasy realm instead of NYC, and there was a special assassin school, and the main character was super pumped about killing people, and also assassins had their own religion. So it’s basically nothing like John Wick, except that there happen to be assassins in both stories.

The story manages to hover somewhere on the line between antihero story and action-adventure romp. Mia goes on killing sprees and doesn’t lose a wink of sleep, unlike someassassins I could mention that I’ve read about. However, it strays more towards the cool-awesome-fight-scenes type of antihero than, say, the Clint-Eastwood-in-Unforgiven type antihero that has me stay up all night pondering morality. Not that that’s a bad thing, but don’t come into this book expecting some meditation on the creation of killers or the notion of evil.

Expect the sort of fight scenes that make you want to download knowledge of how to be a badass because it makes mass murder sound super cool. The action set pieces (can I call them that in books?) were badass, and the last 20 or so percent was balls-to-the-wall chaos. It was great.

I also found the world super interesting. The visual of this city built around the skeleton of some dead god is epic, and it introduced some really intriguing elements I can’t wait to learn more about in the next books. I also found the book’s sense of humour really strong throughout. (Especially in the footnotes. There was lots of snark in the footnotes.)

However, I was not a big fan of the writing style. The fact that the author used “O” every time that a normal person would have typed “oh” killed my suspension of disbelief and pulled me right out of the story. Every. Single. Time. It. Happened. I also did find the prose too purple, and I say this as someone who has a high tolerance for purple prose. (I’m still trying to figure out if it got less purple as the book progressed or if I just became numb to it.)

The sentences could also be weirdly choppy. (E.g. I stood from my bed. Cracked my neck. Still sore. He turned. Looked at me.) I don’t get what that was supposed to add? Like, I get why someone would veer into purple prose. God knows I do when I’m writing. But stylistic choices like those choppy sentences didn’t make sense.

Unlike some people, though, I really enjoyed the footnotes. I found them really witty and entertaining. (Although DO NOT GET THIS AS AN E-BOOK. The footnotes are so hard to deal with in e-book format and just such a headache.)

I really enjoyed Nevernight. It was a fast-paced, action-packed romp that kept me turning pages. If you’re looking for a good adventure about an assassin (and have a high tolerance for flowery writing), definitely consider picking this one up.

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