Monday, July 16, 2018

BOOK REVIEW | Everless by Sara Holland

Title: Everless
Author: Sara Holland
Series? Yes, Everless is the first book in a duology.
Pages: 362
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: I checked out the audiobook of Everless from my local library via Libby. 
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.

Everless might just be the most hyped debut of this year in the YA community. I have read countless reviews, and all but two were four or five stars. After reading the synopsis and seeing all the reviews, I was intent on reading it. Unfortunately, I did not love Everless. I don't think the audiobook was a good choice for this book, and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I suspected. 

My two main issues with Everless was it's pacing and world building. Personally, I didn't like how slow the book was. A lot of time was spent on the world building. While the world set up in Everless is complex and it was great to get a feel of Everless (the city), it slowed down the book. The inner workings of the society are important, but I got bored. I need more action in my fantasy books, or at least tension so that when the action does come, it is worth it. Jules does entrench herself in a world her father explicitly warned her of, but I never felt any dread or worry for her. My lack of connection to Jules is due in part to the book's focus on world building over characters. As a reader, we get an in-depth look into Jules and how society affects her life, but we don't learn much about any other characters. They remain a mystery. This could potentially lead to intrigue, but since the pacing was so slow, I at times confused characters, didn't care about them, or even forgot about their existence. More time on characters and action would have made the book much more rounded in my opinion. 

A small difficulty I had with the book is unique only to the audiobook. The narrator of the book, Eileen Stevens, wasn't bad, but she didn't blow me away either. There are some books where I have found the narration compelling and have added to my reading experience. Everless was not one of these books. Jules' voice didn't stick out to me. Personally, I need more intonation to keep me focused. Since the narration didn't impress me, my focus strayed often, and I had to frequently rewind 30 seconds. 

My last point of issue about Everless is the romance. The romance was barely there, but I would have much rather preferred if it was non-existent. I wouldn't say Jules has romantic interests in this book, but she does have two potential romantic interests. When one couple came to fruition, I thought their relationship was underdeveloped. I never thought their interactions were that romantic, and didn't root for them at all. Since I never bought their relationship in the first place, what happens to them in the third act didn't have an emotional punch for me. The other relationship has a bit more promise, but is merely hinted at in the last act, which is my favorite section of the book. 

The last act of the book is by and large, the best part of the book. Threads that Sara Holland introduced throughout the book all came together for a great climax. There is a great twist here, which I - and from the reviews, many others - were not expecting. Though I don't necessarily understand all the backstory regarding the twist, it did turn the book in a direction I much preferred. After reading the ending, I was convinced to continue on with the series. 

Unlike many fantasy books in the young adult genre, the concept behind Everless is unlike anything I've ever read. The only two books that came to mind when reading Everless were Firstlife and Wither. Firstlife by Gena Showalter also has timepieces on the cover, and Wither by Lauren DeStefano also features many untimely deaths as people's time runs out. These similarities surface level. Holland's idea of time as currency, which is taken when binding blood with copper, is unlike anything I've ever heard. Even though I did take issue with the time spent on world building, it was a world unlike one I have read before, and that itself is impressive.

Thought the plot itself was interesting, the execution was lacking. The world building, while rich, slowed the book down to the point that I was bored. When compounded with a middle of the road narrator, I lacked focus and often had to rewind. The last act of the book does show promise, and for that reason I am going to continue with the series. I hope that in the sequel the romance will be more believable, as there were little to no romantic scenes between Jules and either of her love interests. I wouldn't necessarily recommend Everless, but I don't urge you to stay away either. 

With that, I give Everless
2.5 out of 5 Hourglasses!


  1. Sad to hear you didn't quite love this one. I've been debating about picking it up for months. I feel like I've read 50/50 on the reviews, so it doesn't really do to help my decision making. Lol. Although since you mention a slight topic comparison to Firstlife and Wither I feel myself shying away even more because while I read those two, I do remember that I didn't like them. So since this is a similar topic I am wondering if it's a topic I just need to stay away from. Oh well. I'll figure it out one day! Lol. Hope you enjoy the sequel better than this one! Very nice and honest review too!

    1. I wouldn't say the book is a lot like Firstlife or Wither, as the book is pretty original, but small similarities caught my attention. I actually DNF'd Firstlife, so I definitely liked Everless more than the former, haha! If you ever pick it up, I hope you love the book. :)

      Thanks for stopping by Jessica!

  2. Noooo I'm so sorry this was a disappointment for you! I loved it, and although I agree it was slow, I liked the writing so much the pace didn't bother me.

    I admit I loved the romance - I loved the subtle relationships, and I ship Liam and Jules so much. I hope to see more of them in the sequel!

    Great review :)

    1. I think I would have liked the writing much more if I just read it in print. The narrator wasn't that great for me, and definitely slowed the book down even more.

      I'm all for subtle relationships, but I was never sold on Jules' previous friendships with Roan and (kind of) Jules. I also hope to see much more of Liam and Jules now that we know what really happened with the fire pit.

      Thanks for visiting Amy. :)

  3. I'm sorry to hear this didn't hit the mark for you, Genni :( I read a book a while ago and had the same sort of reaction: the idea was fabulous but the execution was just... I don't want to say horrible but maybe disillusioned (Thirst by Michael Carson)? That's really irritating about the romance. Romances in general make good secondary plotlines in fantasy books but they have to be done right or not at all, you know? Hopefully the next book you read will be better :)

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. It's a shame when the idea is amazing, but the execution is lacking. I just read your review of Thirst on goodreads, and thought it was so well done. You're great at getting your point across, showing examples, and still being respectful to the author!

      I love when romances are a part of a secondary plotline in fantasy novels, as it relieves some of the tension and makes for quieter, more heartfelt moments. Hopefully the romance will improve in the sequel.

      Thanks for commenting Laura!

  4. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this :/ I totally agree with you on the pacing and romance and yeah the ending was amazing :D!
    Kariny @Kariny's Book Frenzy

    1. Thanks Kariny! The ending was good enough to convince me to read the sequel. :)

  5. That's too bad Genni. I wish you had liked it more. I've got it on my shelves so I'm anxious to see what I think of it.

    1. I hope you love it Lauren! I'm definitely the odd one out when it comes to Everless. I hope the sequel is an improvement!

  6. Oh I'm so sorry you didn't love this book as much as everyone else did and that you got a bit bored at the start - I'm glad that the last half of the book and the ending were good enough for you to want to keep on going with it all! I hope the next book will be much better :) Lovely review! :) x

    1. Hi Marie! Thanks for visiting! If the book continues to go in the direction the second half went in, I'll definitely be enjoying the sequel more!