Title: Everless (Everless #1)
Author: Sara Holland
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Description (from GoodReads):
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.
- A strong yet vulnerable female protagonist
- A terrifying world where blood is money
- Cheesy villain who needs some serious work
Jules lives in a world where time is money, literally. In Sempera, your years are taken from your blood and boiled down into a coin you can use for payment. For the rich, this is wonderful. They can live for decade after decade. But the poor, it’s a curse that leaves you with a short life expectancy. So when Jules learns her father has little time left, she returns to the estate that she and her father once ran from in a desperate hope to save his life. But little does she know that going back to Everless is dangerous, especially for her.
The entire concept of Jules’ world is both terrifying and intriguing. The idea of paying off your debts with a coin boiled from blood? Naturally, with this form of currency comes a lot of corruption. And readers can see that when they see the differences between the life Jules and her father lead, and the lives of the wealthy. Quite honestly, I would have liked to see more development here because the idea alone creates the potential for some seriously messed up stuff.
Instead of focusing on the politics of this world, Holland focuses on the magic used to create this currency. This makes sense–it has to be a central part of the plot. It’s also different from what I’ve seen before. I also enjoyed that it stemmed from SEmpera’s mythology. Those elements added a depth to Everless that I rather enjoyed.
But I suppose, more than anything, I enjoyed Jules. I liked that she was strong and angry and brave, but she was also incredibly vulnerable. I liked that she is someone who is obviously going to come into her own strength throughout the course of the series. I liked that she was flawed and naive because it means that she has so much room to grow.
Despite this, I found some of the decisions she made a little unbelievable. I’m not going to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but she does jump into dangerous situations that didn’t really make sense. She makes really stupid decisions that felt a little…off.
In addition, the villain felt like a comic book character. You know, cheesy, a crappy motive, evil for the sake of being evil. I like a more complex villain, and the one in Everless didn’t feel complex, despite that character’s history. Hopefully, there’s more development there in the future.
In the end, this was the flaw that kept me from loving Everless. But even though Everless isn’t a new favorite, it is the first young adult fantasy novel I’ve enjoyed in a while, and honestly, that was refreshing enough.