Nevermore (Nevermore #1)
Atheneum Books (Simon & Schuster)
Read from my TBR pile
Blonde cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when her English teacher announces that for their group project, he will be choosing the pairs. She is even more horrified when he chooses Varen Nethers, an aloof Goth whom she has never even exchanged a single word with previously. Isobel and Varen could not be more different and her reluctance it seems, is surpassed only by his.
Varen chooses the topic of their project, which must be a dead literary master. His choice is Edgar Allen Poe, someone that Isobel doesn’t know too much about but it seems that Varen knows enough for both of them. Never the most studious Isobel is slightly dismayed and Varen tells Isobel that he’ll write the paper if she’ll present their speech and although he attempts to educate her on Poe, giving her poems to read, Isobel never quite gets around to reading them. She does however, begin to make excuses about spending more time with Varen.
Her football-playing boyfriend Brad is clearly threatened and warns Varen off her but all this does is make Isobel want to spend more time with him and less with Brad. As her friends turn their backs on her, one of the only people Isobel has left is Varen and he pulls her deeper into his odd world, a dream world created through the pages of his notebook, where things from Poe come to life in terrifying ways.
Straddling her world and others, Isobel must learn to summon the power to know when she’s dreaming and take control. Someone is coming for her. Varen has made a choice but his wants and needs changed when he met Isobel and now the both of them are trapped and it seems like it’s going to be impossible for them both to survive and make their way back to their world.
Nevermore was on my TBR pile for what seemed like forever – I have to admit, I love a good Goth meets cheerleader story. And the elements of Poe in this one also had me fascinated. When I saw the gothic category in the Literary Exploration challenge, this title immediately came to mind. I knew I didn’t particularly want to read a classic gothic story so this one seemed perfect. I started it at 10pm one night – big mistake! It was very hard for me to drag myself off to bed at midnight with still some 150p to go!
A lot of the time in a YA paranormal/supernatural story, what’s missing is true chemistry – two people getting to know each other and struggling with the burgeoning attraction, especially when they’re very different. In Nevermore, we get that slowly blossoming attraction in spades. In a book that’s over 500p, the two characters only kiss once, towards the end of the book. The rest of the time it’s looks, moments, snippets that they share with each other about themselves or things they see, small glimpses into each other’s lives. Their obvious reluctance to spend time with each other at the beginning gives way to a desire, perhaps even a need, to be in each other’s company. I loved every second taken to establish what Varen and Isobel (mostly Isobel, as she’s our narrator, the reader just has to guess about Varen through his words, looks and actions) are feeling about each other and how it makes them feel. Isobel becomes isolated from her boyfriend, an arrogant jock, and her friends and at odds with her parents. Her behaviour is out of character but on most occasions it’s for the better as she stands up for Varen when Brad and her other friends would attempt to bully him. I loved all of her interactions with Varen and with every page I was wanting more.
The atmosphere is dark, Isobel’s cheerleading and bounciness balanced out by the dark dreams she experiences and the strange incidents that seem to follow her around. As she becomes immersed in a world she doesn’t understand, bits and pieces of the Poe poems come back to her and she is slowly able to begin to piece together exactly what has happened. In desperation to escape his life, Varen has created a dreamworld, one that he wanted to sink into until meeting Isobel changed his mind. His dreams of Isobel have made her a target from a figure and he has inadvertently drawn her into danger although the fact that it’s Varen’s world also protects her in a way, at the same time. I have to admit, strong paranormals are often troubling for me because I’m very skeptical, I like there to be a reasonable explanation for things. But I was able to sink into this one and forget my need for that (although there was a scene taken from the Masque of the Red Death that I did have trouble getting through because it struck me as a bit too crazy for my tastes!) and just enjoy the parallel worlds that Creagh had created. The way in which they connected to Poe was interesting – he’s a figure that I’ve always wished to explore further and there’s been several books released recently that are based on his works or derive a lot of inspiration from them, which has roused my curiosity again.
Nevermore was the sort of book that made me wish I had the sequel here right away to dive into. It’s the sort of book that makes you want to jump straight into the next one and find out what is going to happen next because when everything seemed right, it became apparent to Isobel at the end of the book that it really wasn’t and that she was going to be needed to set things straight. Hoping to buy it soon – I need more Varen and Isobel.
Book #12 of 2013
Nevermore counts towards my participation in the Literary Exploration Challenge where I’m attempting to read a book from 36 different genres, this one being gothic fiction. It’s the second book I’ve read for the challenge – 34 to go!