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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

"Everless: Book 1 in the Everless Series" by Sara Holland (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)



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 OVERVIEW: 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.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

FORMAT: Everless is the first book in a proposed YA fantasy series. It stands at 362 pages and was published January 2, 2018 by HarperTeen.

ANALYSIS: After reading between 100 and 200 books every year for at least 10 years, it is hard to not become jaded every time you pick up a book. A brief glance at Everless and it looks and sounds just like every YA fantasy novel out there, but it honestly blew me away.

Sara Holland has perfected how to toss out plot twists at readers in such a way that it kept the guessing what was happening or would happen. Just when things were starting to settle down and I would get the feeling of "oh I know where this is going", Holland would throw a twist into the plot that took the novel into a direction that wasn't what I was expecting.

With all the plot twists and turns, one would assume that something – character development or world building – would have to be sacrificed. After all, the book is only 350 plus pages, not 800 or 900. But it isn't. While the world building starts off a bit sketchy and uncertain, by the end of the book it is completely detailed and really well-rounded. The characters are extremely developed and thought out. Not everyone is what they seem on the outside, which leads to a few plot twists and unexpected moments.

What really stood out to me was Sara Holland's ability to take a general concept – measuring time and using it like currency – and give it a unique twist. Of course, the concept of measuring time and using it as currency isn't new, but the way it is presented and how it is incorporated into the plot gave it a unique feel that kept readers captivated and wanting to read.

While I absolutely loved Everless, it did have a few problems as many debut novels do. My biggest issue was with a certain plot element. Jules, our main character, has this huge infatuation with one of the princes in the story. She is instantly drawn to him and madly in love because "they hung out together when they were 7" but they haven't seen each other in close to 9 years. It just seemed far-fetched that she would be in love at 7 and still hold such strong feelings for someone she hadn't seen in so long.

Even though this one plot point was present, it didn't ruin the novel for me. In fact, I would probably go as far as to say it was one of my top reads so far for 2018. I will warn you that there is a pretty big cliffhanger-like ending to the book which just makes me all the more excited for book 2. I would definitely recommend this book to YA fantasy fans who are looking for a well-written book that has the unique ability to add a creative twist to a genre that is saturated with

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