YA Friday: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (and mini giveaway!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Title: Nevermore
Author: Kelly Creagh
Genre: YA, horror
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010
Source: Won from The Story Siren
Read for: R.I.P. VI

Isobel Lanley is appalled when she is assigned to work with Varen Nethers on her English project. She is popular, hanging out with a tight, exclusive group of friends (including her jealous and possessive boyfriend, Brad), and she is right to be worried -- her friends harass Varen and tell him to stay away from her, despite the fact that she is assigned to work with him. However, Isobel grows more and more interested in Varen, despite his odd behavior. As she starts to learn his secrets, she is rushed into a haunting and disturbing world inspired by the life of Edgar Allen Poe -- a world that could capture Varen forever.

So, a brief history of my relationship with this book -- I won it from the Story Siren earlier this year. I'd entered the giveaway without much thought -- it was when I'd just started to notice that there were giveaways all over the book blogosphere and I was excited at the idea of winning books. When I won it, I was excited to win something, but not extremely excited about the book. I figured I would read it eventually. It came with a little action figure of Edgar Allen Poe (which now perches over my desk), some black feathers and pretend leaves, purple pens, and three signed bookmarks (more about that in a minute). I was excited by the pretty package and decided I would read the book in October for Halloween.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I read a few reviews of the book and saw mixed reactions. Because paranormal is a taste I only occasionally enjoy, I thought this would be at best a lukewarm reading experience for me. Oh how very wrong I was.

Because I am obsessed with Nevermore.

I'll start with the writing, because I think that is one merit of the book that most can agree on. Creagh describes her frightening scenes with beautiful precision and power. I could see the dark birds hovering by Isobel's window, feel the chill along the nape of my neck when mysterious voices hissed her name. We are given every detail, moving step by step through Isobel's experiences. I am one of the rare readers that love long, drawn-out explanations and descriptions. While I wouldn't say that the descriptions of the book are over the top (say, Lord of the Rings drawn-out), they did give more information than the usually succinct YA books I am used to. I loved this. I could visualize every event -- I even had a nightmare about the book, which to me is a high compliment to a scary story. If it has filtered in to my dreams, even though they frighten me, it shows they have affected me on a deep level. Reading the book felt like a movie in my mind -- I could see the scenes play out in vivid detail.

The visuals weren't all that I experienced as if they were my own. The emotions of the slowly building relationship between Isobel and Varen affected me viscerally as no other book has. I am not exaggerating. I had rampaging butterflies in my stomach every time they were in a scene together. I found Varen completely alluring as a male lead -- he was mysterious, intelligent, and different from the status quo of love interests. He wasn't perfect; he was extremely frustrating. But he was real, passionate, and deeply emotional and sensitive beneath his tough exterior, and I loved it. As Gwen (another delightfully quirky character that I really related to) put it, "Right now, you're trying to decide if that was hot or annoying. [...] It was so totally hot." Amen, sister.

I had a slightly more difficult time relating to Isobel. It frustrated me that she didn't take an interest in reading Poe -- Varen was so intelligent, and she seemed to blow off school. Cheerleading was constantly described as the thing she was really passionate about, which is certainly valid, but not something I can ever imagine wanting to do. However, as the book progressed and she underwent ordeal after ordeal, I was impressed with her tenacity and strength. As her popular friends fall away from her, she learns to accept and even love people that previously would have been dismissed as "freaks," people not cool enough for her. I think as a character she demonstrated a lot of growth, but she didn't change her personality -- just the way she dealt with certain situations.

Of course, I can't finish this review without mentioning Poe and the brilliant way he was woven throughout the narrative. I picked up a volume of short stories by Poe in high school and read a few -- "The Red Death" and "The Orang-otang [sic]" are the two that stick out in my memory, along with "The Cask of Amontillado," which I'm pretty sure is required reading in every single grade of high school English. My interest in Poe was renewed with the mention of these stories once again and the dazzling translation of some of his most haunting images into a new story. In addition, the mysterious "Poe Toaster" is inserted into the narrative in a creative and satisfying way. Nevermore sparked my interest in learning more about Poe and reading more of his work. I enjoyed the way his writings were the inspiration for this new and equally ahunting story.

While I can understand that the length and level of detail in Nevermore may be a deterrent to some, for me, this book was absolutely satisfying for me as a spooky read and an enjoyable YA. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy to read before the Halloween season ends.

4.5 stars

Warnings: Some spooky evil demon violence. And can I just go on a quick little spiel here? I so appreciated the fact that this book was powerful, emotional, romantically tense, and strong without using profanity or sexuality. That is getting to be a difficult thing to find, and this book did an amazing job.

Now, for the mini giveaway! As I mentioned earlier, Kelly Creagh sent me three signed Nevermore bookmarks. I am giving away two of them. If you are as much of a Nevermore freak as I am and would like a signed bookmark, leave me a comment with your email address. I'll announce the two winners on Monday - last chance to leave a comment is Sunday evening at 11:59 MDT.


  1. I have wanted to read this for a long time. I am so glad that you gave it such high praise (because I hate being disappointed in a book).


  2. Oh my goodness!! I've been really interested in this book for a while, won a giveaway a while back and... have not read it yet :P I thought about waiting until until more of the series was released, but now I don't think I can! This is definitely a book I'm going to need to read ASAP! :p

    And your package sounds like so much fun! :D Yay for bookmarks that match the book!

  3. I totally agree with you about the writing and about the use of Poe. I thought the atmosphere all the Poe stuff created was fantastic. But Isabel really, really annoyed me--so much so that I really couldn't get past her to enjoy the rest of the book. Which is sad because other stuff in the book had so much going for it.

  4. @MidNyte Rider -- I hope you enjoy it! I loved almost every minute.

    @Ashley -- Oh man. It might be good that you waited a little because the book ends on a CLIFFHANGER. It makes me crazy. But I definitely LURRRVED it. Haha.

    @Karen -- Yeah, she is the down side of the book. She's definitely not someone I would probably ever hang out with. Since she grew up a bit in this book, I'm hoping she keeps getting better throughout the rest. But I'm sticking in it for Varen. :) And Poe.

  5. I added a link to your review at my Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon because your review made want to read this book even though I normally don't like the paranormal stuff. (I do like Poe, though?)

    Anyway you're welcome to add your own links to review you've written each Saturday at Semicolon:


  6. @Sherry - Thank you! Some of Poe's stories come to life in this story and it is really interesting. Thanks for stopping by!


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