“Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff Review:

Nevernight Review: 

Synopsis: In a land where three suns almost never set, a 16 year old girl joins an assassins’ training school. She wants to extract her revenge on the people who destroyed her family by murdering her father and abducting her mother and little brother.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. After his death she learns that she is what people called a Darkin, who can bend shadows to her will and even speak to them. With her companion Mr. Kindly, a shadow-cat, she starts on her path of revenge.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But, an unknown murderer is killing acolytes in Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

__________

“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, the pages leave their marks on us. Indelible as the ink that graces them. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of words. A girl with a story to tell”

If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for beautiful writing styles and quotes. And GOOD LORD the quotes in this book are to die for. A secret school of assassians???! Badass characters?? A precious murderer baby child named Mia?? A magical, sentient library full of monsters?? SIGN. ME. UP. Now, You’re either going to love or hate the writing style. It’s dense, full of prose, metaphors, similies, and footnotes (well, unless you read the audiobook). But I loved it. Again, I’m a sucker for fancy schmancy writing styles.

Are you intrigued yet?? Do you like assassians, murder, trechery and smut?? Because if you do, Nevernight is your book.

___________

THINGS I ABSOLUTELY LOVED ABOUT THIS BOOK:

  1. Plot
  2. Characters
  3. Gore
  4. Writing Style
  5. Mr. Kindly’s snarky comments
  6. Sex (hubba hubba)
  7. Literally everything

___________

Now, I’m going to get into a more controversial topic surrounding this book at the moment: racism.

I have to disagree that this book is raciest. One issue that people have found is the similarity between Kristoff’s Dweymeri people and the Maori people (The Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zeland). Kristoff tweeted that Dweymeri are kind of a Maori analogue (which means they are COMPARABLE, not REPRESENTATIVE!!).

As one blogger stated “what started this was a question from me as a Maori person how closely related the Dweymeri are to the Maori people and how the Dweymeri are portrayed. The Dweymeri may be fictional, but the Maori are real people so portraying the Dweymeri in the wrong way hurts Maori people like me” however, Kristoff replied in a tweet that “the tatts aren’t based off Maori designs, and aren’t described as such… The Dweymeri are not representative of Maori people or culture.” Kristoff himself said that they are not representative of Maori people!

This blogger continues to say: “Okay, yes, they are fictional but when you use someone’s culture, especially one that is alive and in a revival period, you must be respectful and understand that sometimes you can’t write outside your lane simply because you will never be able to depict a culture in the way someone of that culture can.” But that statement is problematic too. Essentially that would mean that you can only write about your own culture or ethnicity and thats just?? I don’t understand. Authors should be able to write about other cultures and races than their own.

She continues to say “Even if the Dweymeri have zero Maori elements, weren’t inspired by Maori people, or if they don’t relate to Maori people at all, everyone needs to realize that the connection will be drawn between the Dweymeri and the Maori people, especially by those who are part of or familiar with Maori culture, and how portraying the Dweymeri using the same stereotypes that are applied to Maori people is harmful not only to Maori people but because it reinforces those stereotypes to people outside of that culture.” And yes, I do agree with parts of that statement, however, I have read Nevernight and made no connection between the Dweymeri people and the Maori. Just because the Dweymeri people have facial tattoos does NOT mean they are meant to be like the Maori, therefore Kristoff can have those facial tattoos have whatever meaning he wants as a FANTASY author. If he told people that the Dweymeri people were representative of the Maori, then I would expect him to have done more research and had the facial tattoos have a similar symbolic meaning as the Maori tattoos. Although Kristoff is not saying that his Dweymeri people have no Maori elements at all, he said that “Dweymeri facial tattoos were not inspired by Maori facial tattoos.”

If the Dweymeri weren’t inspired by any culture, then it would have been appropriate for him to say that “the Dweymeri are an invention of my imagination”. HOWEVER, they were inspired by multiple cultures, not just one. And thats the point: they were inspired by, not based on.

I completely agree that just because one person doesn’t see racism within a text doesn’t automatically mean it isn’t there. However, I will wait for concrete evidence before saying that Nevernight is racist, and I will defend it until I am proven wrong.

To add to that, I believe that in order to critique Nevernight for being raciest, one needs to have read the book. I have come across several bloggers who haven’t even read the book yet accuse it of being raciest and continue to attack the author over twitter. Also, when the topic of racism within his books has been brought up, Kristoff has reached out to bloggers in an attempts to discuss their concerns with them. He said that tone was hard to judge over tweets and emails, and even offered to discuss things over the phone. He is not trying to hide anything and he has interacted professionally with people who have brought up issues with his books which is more than I can say for some authors (looking at you Cassandra Clare).

The Dweymeri people are described at one point in the book as ‘savages’ by other people in the novel, however, that does not mean that the author believes a certain race of people (especially the Maori or other cultures that somewhat inspired the Dweymeri people) are savages. There are slaves in the Throne of Glass series, do you think Sarah J. Maas supports slavery? No.

I would definitely find it problematic if Jay Kristoff tweeted “The Maori people are savages.” But he didn’t. Another race in his book referred to the Dweymeri people as savages. Again, THAT DOES NOT REFLECT THE AUTHORS VIEWS.

So please PLEASE read Nevernight. Make your own opinions about books and actually read the book in question before calling it problematic. Please and thank you. Very sorry I got so aggressive in this post I am just very passionate about this book. It completely blew me away and exceeded all my expectations. But please, just because I do not find this book raciest or problematic does not automatically believe it isn’t. These are just my beliefs and I would be happy to talk with anyone who disagrees! I am by no ways perfect and could have missed something. These are just my (occasionally controversial) opinions.

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One thought on ““Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff Review:

  1. This post perfectly summarized how I felt about the “racisim” exhibited in Nevernight. I think it’s frustrating how inspiration is now taken as appropriation, and that racist characters are no longer acceptable. It’s almost as if acknowledgment of racism as a facet of reality are not allowed unless they are buried under layers of metaphores and fantastical removal (see: muggles vs wizards).

    I personally saw the Dweymeri as far less ‘savage’ than the Itreyans–the ‘white People’–and the constant description of Trics salt locks made me envision dreadlocks, making him of ‘African’ descent and removing the Dweymeri further from Maori.

    Are people this up-in-arms about Dothraki appropriating north-asian culture? Do they protest about their portrayal as raping, savage horse-lord conquerers? Does the similarity counter the impact of the story, or the compelling nature of the characters? Do fantasy cultures have to be so novel as to be unrecognizable in order for people to accept that not everyone is out to steal a chevron design?

    It’s like, if people keep being this anal about appropriation, it will cost them racial representation as white authors no longer feel allowed to write interesting, well-motivated main characters of color because they ‘cannot understand what that experience was like’ in a world that they, the author, created.

    Hearing accusations of racism for this interesting, daring book actually steamed me up to go and write about it, geeze.

    Like

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