Pretty dresses aside, I was going to give this series a pass until someone gifted me a hardcover copy of book two. You don't look a gift hardcover in the dust jacket (well, I don't), especially in a country where hardcovers can and usually do cost in excess of $50 (and that's the discounted sale price). The gift of a hardcover in Australia means someone really loves you. I mean, dude. Seriously. Bibliophilia here is expensive.
I wasn't expecting much from Everneath and I was therefor pleasantly surprised that it didn't totally suck. (Given past horrors, I'm a little leery now of pretty dress covers.) Parts of it did suck, but most of it didn't (and there was much rejoicing). I love mythology mash-ups, and I enjoyed this spin on Greek mythology. It would have been a solid four-star read for me, but a few things drove me nuts.
1. The chapter and section break headers. These really irritated me. I don't need to be told in the header that the story is taking place "Now. My room. X-amount of time left." when the very first sentence after that sets the scene in prose (i.e. "As I sat on my bed in my room that night..."). The headers could have been reduced to time + countdown, thereby serving their purpose without making me feel like my intelligence and attention span were being insulted. Instead, we get headers brought to us by the Department of Redundancy Department. Thanks. -_-
2. Subjunctive mood. It doesn't normally bother me, but I have a brain that is pretty good at recognizing patterns. When your first person narrator uses subjunctive mood to describe the actions of other characters over 120 times in one novel, I'm going to notice. And it's going to make me a little crazy. I mean, come on. If your first person narrator is going to spend that much time speculating on the motives and actions of the other characters, you have officially defeated the purpose of a first person narrative and you might as well have written in third. If you're writing in first, I want to know what your narrator thinks and feels about what's going on, not what she thinks everyone else thinks and feels.
3. Flashbacks. This was the biggest letdown for me. I felt like the story was written in the wrong order. I can see why it was done that way, but in this case I thought it did me as the reader a great disservice. Because of the way it was written, I felt like Nikki's reasons for going with the pretty feelings vampire were downright lame. If you want to emotionally distance your reader from a series of events, one of the most effective ways to do it is to put them in flashbacks scattered throughout the main action. By all means, destroy the sense of building tension by putting it in the past and revealing it bit by bit. Distance me from the gut-wrenching pain of your narrator by having her look back at it in pieces through the softened misty veil of time gone by. Further dampen the intensity of those emotions by making the narrator (literally) emotionally drained. Tip to authors: If your narrator feels nothing, you run the risk that your readers won't feel anything either.
Despite my issues with the writing, it is a solid story and when I finished it I was looking forward to a deeper exploration of the mythology in the next book.