Rating: 3/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
A widely imaginative story, with awfully bland characters.
Everless was one of my most anticipated 2018 releases, I was really looking forward to reading it. My expectations were partially met, because Sara Holland delivered a unique, original story that managed to stand out amongst other YA novels, but there was something amiss that didn't allow me to become fully invested in the fates of her characters.
Once upon a time, in the country of Sempera, the Alchemist and the Sorceress bound time to blood and metal. Now, a few hundred years later, time is still money. And money is extracted by the blood of the citizens. Jules Ember and her father are constantly fighting against hunger and eviction. When Jules was young, they used to live in Everless, the estate of one of the most powerful families, the Gerlings. But a tragic event related to the Gerling brothers made Jules and her father flee for their lives, hiding, and the hatred for this family kept Jules warm at night. But now that her father cannot make ends, Jules decides to return to Everless as a servant, despite the warning that she should never, ever come back. Because Everless is more seductive and dangerous than she remembered, and the Queen's presence opens the floodgates of answers Jules never knew she needed.
“Snake,” said Fox. “What have you done?”
Everless was a rich tale laced with intrigue, deception and secrets. The whole concept of this novel was oustanding, albeit a little difficult to grasp it at first. The walls of Everless, its secret vaults and corridors and hushed conversations and rumors between servants and nobles alike gave it an eerie atmosphere, and you could feel the humidity giving you gooseflesh. Sara Holland wove her story intricately, and led it to a climax you could never predict; the shocking plot-twist was the element of this book I admired the most. The hints were subtle all along, but your mind conjured different scenarios, until the truth was revealed and you gasped with surprise and elation, because - finally! - an author succeeded in keeping you in the dark until the time was ripe to serve you the answers.
While Everless is undoubtedly a promising debut, I couldn't shake this feeling of unpleasant detachment from its main character, Jules. The only word I can find to describe her is indifferent. While I appreciate the fact that she wasn't presented as the fairest of them all, nor did she think herself as a natural born leader, some of her decisions were highly irrational. For example, the only person close to her died trying to warn her to stay away from the Queen. How did she honor this sacrifice? She thought it imperative that she should become the Queen's handmaiden (!) and search for the answers. I understand such decision was essential to make the plot go forward, but in all honesty it was simply dumb. And then there is her unjustified infatuation with Roan. She hadn't seen him for ten years, she knew of his various dalliances, and yet she was heartbroken over his impending wedding? I think I'm too old for this kind of behaviour.
The rest of the characters felt flat and boring. Roan was insufferable, and I couldn't care less about Ina. The ony ray of sunlight was Liam. He was intriguing, and even though he was portrayed as a villain since the first chapter, he was the only one with depth, and I strongly believe that he deserves his own PoV in the second book.
“Fox”, said Snake, curling slowly around her friend's heart. “It's time we face the truth.”
The truth is that Sara Holland is a talented author, and I will definitely read the next book, because the ending and the possibilities that unfolded made me yearn with anticipation. If Jules finds her own voice, and becomes a more reliable and vivid character, I'm almost certain that I will love the second instalment!