Book Title: Nevernight
Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1
Date Started: August 30th 2018
Date Completed: September 8th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Quality Rating: Five Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Five Stars
Final Rating: Five stars
Nevernight was great. I could leave it there, honestly. It's a firm favourite of mine now and I'm resisting the temptation to go straight onto the next one. There's such an attitude - a bite to it. Humour, spark, whatever you want to call it, just a little bit of flair that sets it apart from the other assassin student stories that seem to be appearing everywhere at the moment. Really, this is my kind of genre and everything that I love about it in one place. Consider me bought.
Well written choreography and fighting is hard to come by. My first recommendation is always to go to Derek Landy for reference, but Kristoff has definitely made his mark with it. Battle sequences are really only a small part of the book, but when they are there they're done well. Not only is the action itself described in a way you can visualise, there's some solid thought-out strategy mixed in there. When you have a protagonist like Mia it immediately elevates it, because of course she's got a good head on her shoulders. Having her not already adept at the physical training and more knowledgeable in other areas was refreshing too. It always helps to ease your audience in and how duality in any person so we root for them more.
The main criticism I come across for this book is its slow start. Which is fair enough, because I don't think I've come across anyone who hasn't been questioning it at the beginning. There's a lot of exposition to give, and some travelling and introductions to do. But goddamn, once it gets going it ramps up fast. And there's still a few little blips dotted through, but for the amount of enjoyment I got out of it past the initial build-up, I really can't complain.
I'm not generally a massive fan of the school trope, magic or not. It can so easily become predictable and boring (most of the time we end up with Mean Girls but no where near as good), but there's plenty of other things going on between the lines, and Kristoff kind of uses it to trick you into a false sense of security. There's a pretty dramatic twist towards the end of the story, and while I knew it was coming (I'd been put under a bet by someone to see if I could work it out), I didn't expect it in that way at that moment. And for those of us with suspicious natures and a pretty good knowledge of story mechanics, there's still a lot of value in that. There's still anticipation in how it's going to happen, so why the hell not.
So you've met Celaena Sardothien (fallen in love with her), and your idol is Inej Ghafa, and don't forget the marvelous Lila Bard. Well, since you have a weak spot for heroines who curse and arm themselves to the teeth, meet Mia Corvere. Because, once again, you're screwed. I can't tell you how happy it made me to proeprly feel the attitude and swears coming off of her, and for no one to question it (it's the little things, right?). But I'm also happy that we aren't completely diving into the anti-hero thing just for the sake of it. Throughout Nevernight, people point out that Mia doesn't really belong in a homocidal assassion school, even though she's more than tough enough and has kinda murderous tendancies. But she's also kind and openly so - it's great that we have no-shit heroines, but empathy can be shown without being a weakness and still with a little spark.
Give me more. Now. (Please?) Obviously the series is going to expand its reach and build up even higher in the stakes than it is, but I was happy that Nevernight completed its own act as well. And things change pretty dramatically over the course of the book; it's not just Point A to B, it's all the way down to F and we're not finished yet. I'm excited about what happens all the way down at Z.