Book Review: NEVERLAND by Douglas Clegg

BLURB:

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Douglas Clegg blends dark suspense and southern gothic horror in Neverland, a novel of deadly secrets and innocence corrupted. What lurks within the shack? What kinds of dangerous — and deadly — games do the children play there?

For years, the Jackson family vacationed at their matriarch’s old Victorian house on Gull Island, a place of superstition and legend off the southern coast of the U.S. One particular summer, young Beau follows his cousin Sumter into a shack hidden among the brambles and windswept trees near bluffs overlooking the sea.

And within Neverland, the mysteries and terror grow…

REVIEW (by Holly):

When attempting to describe NEVERLAND, the words vivid and bizarre come to mind. To be completely honest, I’m not 100% clear on what happened at the novel’s climax or what forces (or combination of forces) are at play in this work of fiction. Regional folklore, gods, telepathy, alternate worlds, and hallucinations/dreams/visions all blur the line between perception and reality–with regard to characters and reader, alike.

That said, the storyline kept my attention throughout, and I’ve never read anything quite like NEVERLAND before.

There’s a lot to be said for originality in a saturated market.

I’m a big fan of highlight-worthy text (those lines and phases that separate one book from the next), and NEVERLAND is chock-full of descriptions that conjure clear and detailed images in the reader’s mind:

  • “She was a dethroned princess, riddled through like a Swiss cheese with the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune.”
  • “Her face was like tapioca pudding, wiggling and still self-contained, her eyes two small raisins…”
  • “Long strands of her white hair hung down from its bristles like tentacles from a Portuguese man-of-war.”
  • “…flicking at black ants just like I was punting paper triangles in a game of desk football.”
  • “The sun was up and hot like a big old egg yolk sizzling on the griddle sky.”
  • “His nipples were huge and hung across his chest like two great puffy flapjacks.”

All in all, I’d recommend NEVERLAND to readers who crave original, suspenseful, and surprising fiction that incorporates preternatural elements.

NOTE: Although I alternated between the ebook and audiobook versions of the title, I wouldn’t recommend the latter. The nature of the book requires distinction between telepathic conversations and outspoken dialogue, which was difficult to distinguish via audio. Furthermore, the narrator’s affected regional accent and “voices” took away from the story, in my opinion.

 

Book Review: If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

If There's No Tomorrow by [Armentrout, Jennifer L.]

Author Blurb:

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Taylon’s Review:

I could have been Lena. There’s no telling how many times I could have been in her situation. College was a crazy time, and although I was lucky enough to never face the consequences the characters in this book did, I cannot help but think of how differently my life could have been.

Armentrout has a way with words. Her use of dialogue, diction, and overall story-telling is superb. She has an ability to get completely into character, expressing emotions that are real, understandable, and relatable. This book, especially this story, hits home with so many different types of people.

Two of my favorite quotes that I feel resonate with anyone who has experienced life:

“What would I have done differently that night if I’d known there was no tomorrow? Everything. I would’ve done everything differently.”

“One day you will just realize you’ve made it through this part of your life and you’ve accepted what cannot be changed. That is when you’ve moved on. It will feel like it happened suddenly, but in reality, it’s been a work in progress.”

I highly recommend this book, but fair warning: the topic is hard. It left me in tears, and my own guilt and regrets were thrown in my face throughout the book. I may be nearly 31, but I needed Armentrout’s reminder to live like there’s no tomorrow.