by: Gail Carson Levine
I’m a huge fan of Gail Carson Levine. Ella Enchanted was the first re-imagined fairy tale that I fell in love with and her Princess Tales series was a favorite of mine growing up.
But I didn’t like Ever. It was cute and the premise was good – I really wanted to like it!
Ever is the story of Kezi, a girl who lives in an alternate version of Ancient Mesopotamia. (The cover models are oddly white, considering that.) Doomed to die young, she falls in love with Olus, the Akkan god of the wind. To be together, they must go on an epic quest and overcome great odds. If they survive, they stand a chance of gaining their happily ever after.
Like I said, the premise is good. Ancient Mesopotamia, powerful gods, a doomed woman, epic quests and dangerous situations. Levine is a good writer and I generally like her characters – strong, intelligent, relatable – as well as the world she creates. The setting in this book actually is fairly reminiscent of Ancient Mesopotamia, without losing its ability to relate to the modern-day reader. There a lot of everyday touches that really work to put you in the time period, and the dialogue is a nice mix of modern and old-fashioned so you’ve never jolted by the characters’ speech. (That is a pet peeve of mine.) She also uses some of the Sumerian language (I’m assuming here) which is a nice touch.
It’s told in first person perspective, alternating between Olus and Kezi. It’s not my favorite, but she transitions well and uses it to build tension fairly well.
Like I said, the set-up is for a fairly good novel. But Levine keeps this novel so simple that it becomes simplistic and looses all depth. Now, it is a young adult novel and often they’re written on a lower reading level but that doesn’t mean that the novel has to be simplistic. Simple can include depth. The characters seem almost stunted. They’re not very well-developed – I mean, they have an appropriate number of different traits and virtues and flaws, it’s just that everything about them is so straightforward and lacking depth. They are completely scared, or completely grateful, or – their emotions just seem to lack complexity.
The situations are the same – they should be more exciting but everything is linear that it takes away from the suspense. I don’t know – on its surface this should be a great book but it just doesn’t work on anything but a surface level. I wish it did – I really do love Levine’s work. But this book just doesn’t have anything going on besides the plot and the plot, while not terrible, isn’t enough to make up for its shortcomings.
It’s a quick read, so if you’re interested in Levine’s work or fictional representations of Ancient Mesopotamia there’s no harm in reading the first chapter or so. The book is pretty consistent throughout, so if you like the first chapter you’ll probably like the rest. Otherwise, you may want to give this one a pass.
Anyway, I’m interested in seeing what others thought of this book. Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!