Summary from Goodreads:
“In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.”
Is Everless the new Caraval?
Last year Caraval by Stephanie Garber— who actually has a blurb on the cover of Sara Hollan’s book Everless — was the most hyped book of 2017 and met with disappointment by many. While I actually gave Caraval a five star rating, many did not understand the appeal. Caraval was released about the same time last year (1/31/17) as Everless (1/2/17) was. At least with Caraval one of the plot points that saved it for others is that there was actual sisterhood represented in the story. I suppose there’s something about the new year that gives people rose-tinted glasses about brand new debuts. There’s less reader burn-out because you just started a new year of reading, which makes me wonder if Everless would have been as successful six months into the year if people had more to compare it to.
I read the first 150 pages of this book. The very first few chapters were interesting, but what eventually followed was not enough to keep me reading. Jules, our main character, is swept away to the kingdom of Sempera to work as a servant in order to earn time to save her father. There is foreshadowing early on that hints that there is more to Jules than meets the eye. Of course she’s going to be the hero. I’m not dumb.
For me to even remotely like a book, it needs to be above average in at least 3 of 4 categories: world-building, dialogue, characters, and overall story.
– World-building: It was intriguing and mostly decent, but relied on every other fantasy trope. You know how Cinderella is the most vanilla of fairytales? Well, Everless is pretty vanilla but with sprinkles on top… just enough of something extra to make it interesting.
– Dialogue: NO ONE TALKS IN THIS BOOK. Every scene with a new character lasts half a chapter and we’re back into the same stream of consciousness of our 2D main character. At one point, she encounters a childhood friend and I got excited because she might actually have a full conversation with a character Instead? His tongue has been cut out. How convenient.
– Characters: I could tell there’s more that meets the eye with every character but the author didn’t give me enough time to care about why. After reading reviews and accidentally coming across spoilers, I learned that nearly every guess I had about the “twists” were correct. There is ONE twist out of three I didn’t see coming, but that’s because I didn’t read the whole book. Though based on the reviews, I would’ve figured it out anyway.
– The Story – NOTHING WAS HAPPENING. I mean, we were getting introduced to the world and learning about Jules and her past. I tried to be patient. Of course, we need an exposition. Of course we need some background. That’s okay. But when we’re finally in the castle and introduced to five different important characters, they just sort of float around as if they aren’t important to the story.
The theme of the rich and the poor, and the excessively wealthy who take from the less fortunate is strong. It’s quite saddening. And while the author uses metaphor to bring up such an important issue, it didn’t feel that far from current events. The pacing isn’t that bad— I just got bored being stick inside the Jules’ head. It’s well-written overall. Just super trope-y for my taste. After reading A Darker Shade of Magic, Shadow and Bone, Throne of Glass and The Bone Season I needed something fresh and clever. Not to mention, the character is supposed to be seventeen years old and she feels like she’s thirteen. For those who don’t have fantasy fatigue and could read just about any fantasy they can their hands on, this book is NOT bad. I just wish the author didn’t quite literally save the best parts for last (not based on my own knowledge, but what other reviews say).
Rating: N/A – I didn’t finish the book but I’m leaning toward a 2 star first impressions rating.
Note: My thoughts are based on my first impressions of Everless. My reading goal is to never continue something I’m not personally enjoying. I read almost half the story and I felt I quickly gathered what direction the story was going and didn’t feel compelled enough to stick around.
Unless you really don’t like tropes or for the plot to take a backseat for a long time, please don’t be discouraged. Maybe this book wasn’t for me.
Has anyone read this book that felt so-so about it, too? What do you think? Does it get better? Let me know!