Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 560 pages
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Source: borrowed from local library
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.
Lately there has been a trend in YA fiction to reduce romance to "love at first sight" with the explanation that the two young lovers are meant to be together by some cosmic/magical machination of fate. This unfortunately skips over the natural progression of the characters getting to know one another and the gradual development of a deepening connection. In my opinion, it is the journey of emotional discovery and building tension, not the end result, that is the best part of a romance story. Therefore, I was very pleased with the fact that Nevermore deviates from the recent trend and instead explores the different stages of a budding romantic relationship.
What I liked the most about the book was Isobel's character. I loved that, despite being a blond beautiful cheerleader, she wasn't turned into a stereotype. On the contrary, she was a really down-to-earth girl that was strong & determined and had good values. Even though she was part of the popular clique in school, she wasn't stuck up or judgmental. Even before they became anything more than just classmates, Isobel stood up for Varen when he was bullied by her friends. When she realized that her clique acted in ways she couldn't condone, Isobel took a stand and distanced herself from them. She wanted to be a better person, and I respected & admired her for that.
Varen was intriguing. I found his reserved personality and intelligence quite attractive. He had a subtle bad boy, rebel quality that contrasted nicely with his gentle demeanor. I think that out of the two, Varen was the one who changed/evolved the most throughout the book. Prior to his interaction with Isobel, he was somewhat self-absorbed, distancing himself from everyone and brooding over his own personal demons. I got the impression that he was quite lonely, insecure, and angry. As he spent time with Isobel, however, he started to lower the walls he built up and slowly began to look past his pain & resentment of the world around him.
The plot is where the book hit a few bumps. I really enjoyed the story. I finished the book in pretty much one day. It definitely kept me interested & entertained all the way through. Nonetheless, I did think that the pacing felt a bit disjointed in certain parts. The story seemed to dramatically change gears towards the last half/third of the book, where it became dominated by supernatural occurrences and an action sequence that took place within a dreamworld. I think the transition into that component of the story could have been done more seamlessly. I would have liked a bit more cohesion between the two main story arcs. It sort of felt like the first half of the book was a contemporary high school romance, whereas the second half was a paranormal mystery.