Thursday, 4 January 2018

Review: 'Everless' by Sara Holland

35883046I have been a Fantasy fan all of my life. There is something about Fantasy that makes it the perfect genre for confronting modern-day concerns as well as allowing for some beautiful world-building and escapism. It is a genre I love and I have partly been spoiled by genius fairy tales and genre icons like The Lord of the Rings, to the point where I am now often quite hesitant to pick up YA Fantasy books in the fear of being disappointed. However, Everless' blurb and beautiful cover convinced me to throw my fear in the wind and jump right in. Thanks to Hachette Children's Group and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 04/01/2018
Publisher: Hachette Children's Group; Orchard Books
Time is a prison. She is the key. Packed with danger, temptation and desire - a perfect read for fans of The Red Queen.
In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything - even time. Ever since the age of alchemy and sorcery, hours, days and years have been extracted from blood and bound to iron coins. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry.
Jules and her father are behind on their rent and low on hours. To stop him from draining himself to clear their debts, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family. 
There, Jules encounters danger and temptation in the guise of the Gerling heir, Roan, who is soon to be married. But the web of secrets at Everless stretches beyond her desire, and the truths Jules must uncover will change her life for ever ... and possibly the future of time itself.
As said above, I go into a lot of YA Fantasy books with a sense of trepidation nowadays. The tropes abound, the cliches are stifling and the world-building is unimaginative. I know, I sound like a complaining old lady but I have gotten sick of reading the same story over and over again, knowing where a novel is going to go after less than a 100 pages. However, I found myself pleasantly surprised by Everless. I enjoyed the novel's main idea, your life time being bound to your blood and your blood being capable of becoming iron coins. It is an idea that allows an author to explore class and capitalism in a very interesting idea and Holland does do so here and there in the novel. Although there is a bit of an info-dump at the beginning of the novel, Holland starts her novel off very well by getting the reader attached to Jules. And that, I think, is where one of the strengths of this novel lies. You do genuinely find yourself caring for Jules, becoming as interested in her past as she is, as concerned about those she cares about as she is. And Everless is also actually concerned with her and her life, rather than in setting her up with some handsome prince or having her meet some other random genre trope. It's what makes the novel fly by and makes some of the clunkier examples of world-building fall by the wayside.

At the heart of Everless lies Jules' stay at the eponymous estate in her hope to find answers to some burning questions. I liked Jules' dedication to saving her father and to finding answers, even as the questions she asks change as the situation around her changes. That is what I loved about Everless: it starts out straightforward and then grows into something much more complex. Initially, Jules just wants to earn money so her father can stay alive. By the end of the novel Jules finds herself at the centre of web that has become incredibly intricate. Holland manages to complicate her novel without making the reading of it complicated. She adds twists and turns, managing to subvert some of the genre's conventions as she goes, but never does Everless lose track of who Jules was at the beginning. I think that why it is so easy for the reader to get sucked in by Everless and I know that I personally can't wait for the next book in the series to come out! Is it 2019 yet?

I really liked Sara Holland's writing in Everless. She doesn't linger on grandiose descriptions or dramatised conversations but rather lets the needs of the plot drive the novel forward. On the one hand this means that some events seem to happen very quickly, but on the other hand this means there is no chance to get bored. Although here and there I would have maybe appreciated some extra time to get to know some new characters or feel the consequences of certain events, I also liked the drive forward. Everless also has some stunning visuals and moments which really stick in your mind. Holland has a knack for adding in little details and little descriptions here or there that deftly support her world-building and characterisations and make the novel feel more realistic. That may seem like a strange thing to ask for when it comes to Fantasy, but actually Fantasy novels live or die by how real they are. If you can't imagine this world, then how can you believe in it enough to want to read about it? Everless felt real in a Magical Realism way, almost, where something ordinary like paying rent is elevated to something different, where a young girl's made up childhood stories are maybe something completely different. It is this balance between the fantastical and the real that will make you want to keep reading Everless.

I give this novel...

4 Universes!

I raced through Everless and am consequently heartbroken that the next book isn't coming out for another year, apparently. Although engaging in some of its genre's tropes, Everless and Sara Holland will consistently surprise you. I'd recommend this to fans of YA Fantasy ready to trust again!

1 comment:

  1. Ooh nice! I've been curious and hesitant over this one for some time now! I love a good fantasy but if it isn't executed right it can be confusing and whatnot and then I'm struggling to understand concepts or other things and not really enjoy the novel. This one does sound intriguing and not too overly complicated but I'm still deciding and in the meantime reading every review I find by my trusted blogger pals! So far, I'm thinking I need to at least add this to my wishlist! Nice review!