Sunday, September 23, 2012

review - ENSHADOWED (Nevermore #2), or: proof that I am still alive!

 Enshadowed (Nevermore, #2) - Kelly Creagh
Genre: YA Paranormal/Speculative
# of pages: 429 (hb)
Publisher: Atheneum, Simon & Schuster 
Recommended for: Upper MS (you gotta know yo' Poe!) & beyond

What can I say about Enshadowed, the long-awaited sequel to 2010's sleeper novel, Nevermore? Only that I was just as absorbed and captivated as the last time I delved into this rich world - this rich *reality*- that Kelly has created. I read this 429-page tome (which is interestingly shorter than Nevermore) in two sittings: 48 pages on Friday, because as a new teacher in a new subject, I am often utterly exhausted, and the remaining 381 pages Saturday night. Let me tell you something: if you had an easy time reading Nevermore (and didn't think it dragged in parts like I've read in other reviews), you will most likely be very pleased. For me, Nevermore's pace wasn't "slow," it was "steady," building up beautifully and eerily until the last third of the novel. Since I'd say about 80% of the YA books I've read previously have characters going from complete strangers to gettin' all kissy in 100 pages or less, it was nice to see a budding romance that, well, budded. The pace was perfect for me.
So why am I writing so much about Nevermore when I already wrote a review for it back in 2010? Well, because I think the key to devouring Enshadowed and appreciating it as the next installment is to keep in mind exactly what worked with the previous book. Yes, it is true what the other reviews say: there isn't much Varen. In fact, in the interest of full disclosure (to use a family phrase: "If you don't wanna be fartin' in the dark...") I will say that although we get glimpses of him here and there throughout the story (but are they real, or are they figments?), Varen doesn't actually appear until the last chapter. Believe me, that was not a spoiler. It's what happens next...ohhh, what happens next! If not for the fact that I am LESS THAN THREE MONTHS away from the new HOBBIT movie, I would seriously be crawling up the walls in nervous anticipation for this time next year, when (HOPEFULLY) the final book in the trilogy will be released. HOPEFULLY!

BUT... there is the search for him, and yes, much of the cool-but-confusing aspects of the dreamworld are further explored and explained. Most of the story is Isobel's search for a way into Baltimore and a reunion with Reynolds...while also being haunted by the nefarious Nocs. Isobel is aided in her quest by the wholly entertaining Gwen, who puts the "stereotypical weird best friend" cliche to utter shame. Let me just say: there is absolutely nothing cliche about Gwen's character. Yeah, she marches to the beat of a different drummer. Yeah, she has a kind of "outsider" reputation. But she is absolutely hilarious and can also be sensitive without being overdone. I'm going to need to drop some Gwen quotes in this review to illustrate my point. :)

Look, I've been at this review-writin' thing for over nearly four years. I am very much aware that reading and reviewing books (or any kind of artistic/creative outlet, for that matter) is a very subjective business. I get that opinions can vary widely on any book. And while I don't outright *disagree* with other reviewers (because in all honesty, nothing hacks me off more than when I get comments on my reviews telling me that my opinion is 'wrong'), I will say this: if you like to read reviews before diving in (as I do)...just take what is said with a grain of salt. When the first reviews for Enshadowed started pouring in sometime in late July, I felt a little underwhelmed. sounds like 'middle-book syndrome' has struck again... Maybe because I paid too much attention to those reviews, I went into Enshadowed with slightly lowered expectations.
Well, that was a good thing, because when I was utterly blown away, it was a pleasant surprise. So if you enjoyed Nevermore, I'm happy to say that you will more than likely be entertained (or absolutely CONSUMED) by this next offering.

In the meanwhile, I'm just hear waiting on pins and needles (or rather, Pinfeathers and needles) waiting for next August...

Kelly Creagh's website
Enshadowed on Amazon
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