Another Waterstones Haul book. I was quite excited to read this book. I thought the premise was quite interesting. It was giving me ‘City of Ember’ by Jeanne DuPrau vibes.
Synopsis (as taken from the back of the book):
She was alone. This child. This odd and terrible child.
In the underground city of Caverna, the people are unlike any other: they have faces as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be taught by the Facesmiths – at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world tumbles Neverfell, a girl with no memory and a face so incredible to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell has a face that shows her emotions as transparently as glass. A face incapable of lying. A face that is a dangerous threat and an irresistible treasure – a face that some would kill for…
Ability to read – I found this very challenging to get into. During the first couple of chapters, I really had to pay attention to what I was reading and even then I struggled to connect to what I was reading or feel anything towards the characters I was getting to know. Once I’d got to about the fourth or fifth chapter, I started to get into what I was reading and began to feel myself sinking into the story. I think the beginning was a little too slow for me to be able to fully immerse myself into the story but once things started to move I found it easier to read and was less likely to try and skim what I was reading.
Characterisation – Neverfell was an incredibly compelling character and a complex character with many layers that were slowly uncovered as the book progressed. Frances Hardinge wrote Neverfell in a way that made it impossible to not fall in love with her. As Neverfell tried to understand the world she was in, I fell deeper in love with her character. There were so many cogs in the machine of this story, and so many characters were introduced that became more important to the story than I had first anticipated.
Visualisation – In the beginning, visualising what was happening was difficult to me but I think that stems from not being able to connect to what I was reading. As I progressed further and further into the story, my ability to visualise what was happening grew stronger and stronger. By the last pages of the book, I felt like I was in the story as much as the characters I was reading about.
Uniqueness – I wouldn’t say that this was a completely unique idea. I mentioned above that I got ‘City of Ember’ vibes and those were present throughout my read of this book. However, I do think Frances Hardinge took this in a new direction and made the premise her own. She added depth and intrigue and a whole lot of mystery and secrecy to the story that made for a compelling read.
I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others as I do think it is something to sink your teeth into and a book worthy of reading. I don’t think it is a book that will stay on my shelf e.g. I don’t think it’s a book that I will read again but I did enjoy the time I spent with it.