Please, prepare yourself for fangirl gushing. Thank you.
In spite of the cover, which doesn't speak to the story, to my mind, I am SO in love. And I'm consumed with striking, emerald green envy for author, Kelly Creagh, whose debut novel, Nevermore is so very, very good. It is RARE, so, so, so rare, even with the tons and tons of YA SFF that I read that I'm ever really, truly surprised. I mean - bear with me, my peeps, sometimes it's fun and all, but we're werewolved, vampired, punkish urban elved and zombied/unicorned to death. Publishers and editors seem to get all happy with a hit within the genre, and then we. are. INUNDATED.
Creagh has introduced something new to the party. She now has my undying affection. Not like she cares -- she's probably hard at work on the sequel.
At least she'd better be.
Nevermore, by Kelly Creagh: Isobel is a.) blonde b.) the tiniest, most aerodynamic cheerleader c.) and dating the quarterback of the football team. Cliché, much? Her pinkly-blonde perkiness is brought low by an English assignment when the one teacher she can kind of stand pairs her with the Scary Goth Boy in the class for an assignment. Dyed black hair, boots, ironic leather jacket and smudgy eyeliner: Varen Nethers. Even his name is ridiculously Lord Death.
Isobel, whose flailing grades really need this assignment to pass, is both intimidated by him and terrified of him, and in her heart of hearts, fascinated, like a tiny bird before a green-eyed snake. She wants to poke and prod him, take him apart, figure out what makes him tick. She wants, to her everlasting shock, to know him. Kinda. Maybe. Sorta. If she can take it back when it gets embarrassing or weird.
Veren, for his part, is completely, totally, thoroughly disinterested in her fluffy pink egocentric self. And makes that pretty clear.
Which doesn't explain why he watches her like a hawk.
Neither does it explain Isobel's fury with her über-possessive boyfriend, Brad, for threatening Veren. It was just an English assignment, they got paired up. Why can't everybody let it go? (I mean, what is this, West Side Story?)
Nor does it explain why Isobel's relationship with her usual crew falls apart when they can't stop talking about Veren. Nor does it explain anything about the weird voices in the woods, calling her name, nor about the dreams of a man named Reynolds, and the flash of a figure in the mirror Isobel keeps seeing. Is she awake, or dreaming? What is with the stupid raven watching her house? Why does everything about Veren seem so -- off limits? Even her Dad seems to unreasonably hate him. Isobel's world, which began and ended with her crew, her cheers, and her team seems now utterly pale, washed out, and, as she steps away from the known into the unknown that is Veren's world -- dangerous.
Isobel is a thoroughly likable character, even with her initially unlikable qualities of vapidity, snobbery, shallowness and outright stupidity, which she shares in spades with her gorilla ex-boyfriend, Brad, and her bestie, Nicki. (These characters were almost two-dimensional for me. I was relieved when another dynamic female character was introduced - go, wacky sidekicks!) -- However, Isobel comes alive in cheer squad, and the sheer physicality of her jumps and flips and workouts - the sweat, the euphoria -- rings very true for those who love to use their bodies and push them to their limits.
Veren is a total cipher with the drawing power of iron filings to a magnet -- we don't understand entirely what we see in him, but boy do we want to see more of it. Readers will want to jump into this world and wish very hard for a happy ending for all involved in the restrained and Gothic romance.
Without giving anything away, I must say that what might have come across as a stereotypical Perky Girl Slumming With Eyeliner Boy turns out to be the creepiest, twistiest, spooky Gothic novel I've come across in awhile, where dreams and waking slither sinuously in and out of each other, and nothing, but nothing is at all as it seems.
BE WARNED: -- the end actually made me choke back a terrible little sound of woe. As in "WHAT!??? NOOO!"
As I said: Sequel, Ms. Creagh? Please??? I'm not usually a fan of the Novel With Five Thousand Follow-ups, but this story just begs to be resolved.
Readers who have an appreciation for Gothic plots, Poe, and lost causes: you have got to grab NEVERMORE at an independent bookstore near you!