Let’s face it, the past few years we’ve been hit in the head with a large majority of mediocre YA Fantasy novels. Yes, at times there was a gem hidden beneath the piles of bad books. But it is a difficult search that probably tired a lot of readers. However, despite the fact that I am personally a bit weary of new YA Fantasy books (I always pray they are good but I hate being disappointed), sometimes you find a gem. Everless by Sara Holland is one of those gems. It starts out as so many YA fantasy books do, but it ends up being one hell of a ride. I would like to thank The American Book Center for providing us with an ARC copy of this novel, so that I could review it.
What is Everless about?
The story of Everless takes place in a kingdom named Sempera, where time is currency. The rich live long lives, while the poor have to bleed their time to be able to afford rent. Jules is a seventeen-year-old girl who lives in a small town with her father. They are poor, and she has to hunt to get food on the table. Her father does not allow Jules to bleed, and as a result of his own bleeding, he is almost out of time. They hadn’t always been poor. A long time ago, they lived at Everless, the estate of the powerful Gerling family. But they were banished after Jules witnessed Liam Gerling attempt to push his brother in the fire. Jules saved him, and as a result, they had to flee.
But when Liam Gerling shows up in her village, all is about to change. Feeling desperate about her father’s time running out, Jules takes the risk and returns to Everless to serve as a maid. She hopes to make enough money to save her father. But when the Queen arrives along with her adoptive daughter Ina Gold, Jules finds out she is more special than she thinks she is. Most importantly, she is in grave danger.
A predictable start
I have to admit, after the first few pages I feared it was going to be one of those YA Fantasy books again. I mean, teenage girl who is poor trope -> Check. Teenage girl who is an excellent hunter trope -> Yep. Teenage girl does not know how pretty she is -> Oh yeah. And apparent love triangle -> It’s there. Yet, when I continued reading, I did not mind these tropes as much. The book is an easy read, the language used not overly poetic, but still pretty enough. It’s a fast-paced story, which was a relief. I mean, nobody wants 600-pages of filler, just to fill a book. By the end of the book, I was sucked into the story more and more. All those tropes were played with and turned around again, and the plot twist was one I did not see coming. Furthermore, Holland does not hold back. She definitely did not read the Stephenie-Meyer-Book-Of-All-Good-Characters-Must-Live. So while I went in with low expectations, I ended up being very surprised by this book in all the best ways.
One thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the excellent world-building. It is a relatively short novel in this genre. Still, the world-building is very realistic. Most longer YA fantasy novels fail in this aspect, whereas Everless is very believable. The story takes place in a world where someone’s time is currency. This idea has been explored in the film In Time before, yet while the concept is similar, the execution in this novel is very different. Time is bound to iron, providing real coins. While it may seem an alien idea to us, with the state the world is in right now, it is not even such a far-fetched idea.
The devil is in the details, they say, and Holland does an excellent job of showing the differences between the rich and poor. When Jules runs to a special shop to have her time bled, she finds two old ladies huddled over vials. They are drawing blood in turns for their children. Yet you never know how much time you have left. At the same time, the rich are shown not to care about time that much. They lose time coins all the time without even noticing. This whilst the poor would kill for that time. There is such a large contrast between rich and poor and Holland portrays that in a very good way.
A believable main character
Most of these novels centre around romance. Yet, while there is some romance involved, it serves the purpose of the novel and moves the plot forward. Jules as a character is very believable. All of her actions have a specific purpose. That made it easier to be involved in her story. It is a tale of self-discovery, and a mysterious one at that. Every character in the novel has a reason to do what they do. I am impressed by the fact that none of these characters feel flat. They all have a mystery of their own and drive the plot forward. There was not a single character that annoyed me and in most YA fantasy novels, there’s at least one.
When I first started the novel, I never thought I would end up gushing about it like this. But it deserves all the hype it’s getting. Everless is a clever novel, with an excellent plot and great attention to detail. If you are a fan of the genre, this is definitely a novel you should not miss out on.
Everless is set to be released on January 2nd 2018.