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.”
Before picking up Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (a good, solid Irish name if I ever saw one (it takes one to know one :))), I had read many glowing (and a few less so) reviews. This often makes me a little nervous, as there are many YA (and, frankly, adult) books that garner these types of reviews undeservedly. This is not the case with Nevermore; it absolutely deserves all the praise it’s gotten. When taken as a whole, this is an original, intriguing, dark debut novel that effortlessly weaves all things Edgar Allan Poe into a typical high school setting. If you are familiar with Poe’s works, you’ll find many references cleverly inserted throughout the story.
Isobel, typical blond cheerleader with a super possessive boyfriend, and Varen, typical outsider, initially start out a bit cliché. However, it quickly becomes apparent that this book will be far more than popular girl falls for outsider boy. I found both characters to be wonderfully layered and flawed – I also appreciated that they did not fall in love overnight. The side characters are fun (Gwen and Danny!) and it (at this point in my YA reading experience) seems almost unique that Isobel is part of a loving, well-grounded family.
Their relationship is not easy; they face obstacles at school and home. However, the most challenging obstacle is one of Varen’s creations, his own dream world. One of the primary complaints I’ve seen about this novel is the pacing. I actually found the novel to be very well-paced, as written from Isobel’s perspective. Yes, the first two thirds of the novel are primarily high school drama with Gothic and horrific underpinnings. And yes, most of the action occurs in the final third, but in Isobel’s world, that’s how it happened. Had it been written from Varen’s perspective, the pacing would have been entirely off – but it also would have made for an entirely different book as well. Oh – and apparently the Poe Toaster is real.
I can’t say enough about this book. It is possibly the best paranormal young adult book I ‘ve read. Nevermore is a well-written, dark, unique blend of paranormal novel and literary homage. And thank you, Kelly Creagh, for writing in the third person.
If you like well-done paranormal YA fiction, modern Gothic literature, or Edgar Allen Poe, pick this book up. This is book one is what I believe is to be a trilogy. Book two, Enshadowed, was just released in August. Bottom line: 4.5/5, with bonus points because it allows me to incorporate my favorite Edgar Allen Poe poem (Alone).
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—