Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: Mia Corvere watched her father die, hung for being a traitor to the Itreyan Republic. Then she watched her mother and brother get hauled off by the same corrupt senate that ordered her father's execution. And then she was taken away to be disposed of herself.

But years later, Mia is still alive, and gunning for revenge. She has trained for years to merely qualify to join the legendary Red Church School of Assassins, and now, in order to be able to return and avenge the fall of the House Corvere, she will have to survive the training program, as well as her deadly classmates.

But Mia has a special ability that her classmates don't have: she can manipulate shadows. As Mia makes allies and enemies alike, someone is murdering her fellow initiates. If she wants to earn her spot in the Red Church and eventually get her revenge, she will have to reckon with her past, defeat her rivals, and stay alive.

Thoughts: I actually finished this one a few weeks ago, and have already started the sequel, Godsgrave, but I felt like on second thought, I wanted to do a write-up for this book.

I've had Nevernight since the day it came out, but knowing Jay Kristoff's writing, I decided I would eventually just read the entire trilogy in one go. (I read The Illuminae Files as they were released, and am doing the same with the Aurora trilogy and the Lifel1k3 series, so... I figured I deserved to binge read SOMETHING.) I have managed to stay away from spoilers, but I have NOT managed to stay away from the hype, so I've been hearing a lot about the series for years, and have finally managed to dive in headfirst.

To be honest though, I have TRIED to read it before, and it took me a while to get into it (and then I ended up setting it aside for later). The beginning still started off slowly for me, but what helped me push through, actually, was relistening to the parts I'd already read on audiobook--the narrator does a really great job, and it got me more interested in the events than before. Also, if you're reading with the audiobook or the ebook, it's a lot easier to ignore the footnotes. Don't get me wrong, I love Jay, and I love me some footnotes, but in the print version, I found them really distracting, so I preferred not to see them at all. Maybe on a future reread of the book, I will take the time to read all the footnotes, but this time, I just want to get the story.

And what a story! This series is adult, by the way, NOT YA, even though the heroine is 16 or 17. It's a bloody, violent book, and while there isn't a lot of sex, it is fairly detailed in its description. It's a brutal, unforgiving world that Mia lives in, so nothing is held back.

Mia is, in no uncertain terms, a badass. She's not always correct in her judgments or decisions, and she's definitely not a Classic Hero, but she is prettyyyyyyyyyy awesome. And the side characters are fascinating and well-written too: of course everyone loves Tric, the biracial (Itreyan/Dweymeri) boy she meets along the way, and Ashlinn, whom she befriends at the Red Church. I found Mercurio grumpy and endearing, and even the leaders/instructors at the Church were distinctive and memorable.

The world-building itself is quite amazing too--in this world, there are three suns that shine on the Republic of Itreya, and at least one of them is constantly in the sky, hence the title Nevernight-- the term refers to the hours that, in our world, would be nighttime: the hours that we would be eating dinner, winding down, going to bed. But it's pretty much never night there, except on the rare occasion when all three suns set at the same time, which is referred to as Truedark. Since Mia's power is manipulating shadows, it's interesting how she plays with darkness and light. And of course, there's a whole, giant mythology behind the three suns (as well as the banished moon) and the deities they represent, and it's all very thorough and detailed.

So yeah, I jumped straight into Godsgrave, as originally planned, because I didn't want to be left too long with a cliffhanger. Jay Kristoff specializes in torturing his readers, so consider this my way of mitigating the reader angst :)