Monday 31 March 2014

Review: Evernight by Claudia Gray

Evernight by Claudia Gray book cover

Title: Evernight
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Evernight, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 3 / 5

Add to Goodreads

Bianca wants to escape.

She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.

"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."

But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

-- As seen on Goodreads

*This review contains both unintentional and intentional spoilers after the bold text two paragraphs in. Best to avoid reading further if you haven’t read the book yet and don’t want the story spoiled.*

My Thoughts

Everything about Evernight is just ok or good. The characters are ok. The writing is good. The plot is ok, but nothing terribly unique. It’s a thoroughly middle of the road book: not great, but certainly not a bad either. Basically… I have no clue how to accurately rate it!

Let me start with the positive: overall, I liked the book. I’m surprised that I do considering the issues I have with it. There is an addictive quality to the story, and it kept me hooked. And now, for the not so good: it is your stock boarding school story, with all the dramas associated, but with added vampires for a little bite. *cough*

(And here begins the spoilerish part – you have been warned!)

I’m all for plot twists, but I hate being lied to. My problem here: the first 130 pages felt like a lie. When a story is written in the first person, I expect a personal connection with the character. On the other hand, if it is written in the third person, I expect more impersonal objectivity with more convincing and vivid plot twists. Evernight is written in the first person, so in this instance, I am expecting to see through Bianca’s eyes – her thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds and all the rest – and have the same knowledge that she has. Connecting the dots is not hard to do, but I felt the first 130 or so pages were insulting. Chapter eight becomes nothing more than an info dump on the vampire backstory that we should have had from the beginning. This forced me to discredit Bianca’s character as an unreliable narrator – I couldn’t trust the story she was telling.

I think this has become obvious, but I disliked Bianca. She is incredibly self-centred. A little bit is normal in a novel, but my lord everything was constantly about her! Granted she appears like a normal teenager, and her dialogue is believable, but I just found her to be annoying in general. Lucas was an ok character, but he could have done with a bit more development. He’s likeable enough, but there wasn’t anything to make him stand out.

And yet another point that didn’t sit well with me: The insta love between Bianca and Lucas. I could understand the connection between them if they got all “obsessed” after Bianca bit him. We could blame it on the blood, and it could be used as an excuse if we wanted to take the glare away. As it stands, it’s suspect. Considering it was from first sight and Bianca is completely consumed by Lucas right from the beginning, I can’t justify it as anything other than more annoying insta-love in YA.

The secondary characters are treated very inconsistently, and some are developed better than others. Take Raquel as an example. I felt her character was quite meaningless. She was there to provide the female friend role and nothing more. Her presence felt like a cardboard cut-out with a “Raquel” name-tag on it. I didn’t see her as real.

Usually if I find something that bothers me more than once and it keeps happening, it sort of snowballs and I end up hating whatever it is in question. But with Evernight, despite my grievances, I was hooked on something and I kept reading and wanting to find out what happened. I have no idea why, but I liked it! It gripped my attention, and I wanted to keep reading, and this is the hallmark of a book I really like. But I have issues with it that should have detracted, but they didn’t stop me from enjoying the story... Argh! I’m so confused.

I definitely liked it a lot more that I was expecting considering the issues I have. The authors writing style is engaging and addictive and she can certainly tell a good story. It is not a bad book, and I’m not sure how to really sum it up. I think the best advice I can give is to try it for yourself, and come back and tell me how nit-picky I can be!

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