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Never to Live
By: Just B. Jordan
What: A half-crazed elf, tortured to the ends of her wits, must battle personal demons—but will she become the monster she dreads most?
Recommended to those who like: Fantasy, Christian, Very Dark, Mature Teens and Up
Not recommended to those who dislike: Stories with confusing beginnings.
This is one of those stories that doesn’t fit nicely into a star-rating system. Some elements were 5 stars, others were definitely 3 stars. It doesn’t quite fit in with the other 4 star books I’ve rated, in spite of that being the rating I chose for it. However, to amend my entire rating system for the sake of one book would be impractical.
To start, this book is really dark. It deals with insanity, personal demons (literal and otherwise), sin, and other, ugly topics. It’s also very long, so proceed with discretion. This is not a book to take with you to a sunny beach and enjoy in an afternoon.
Elwyn was always the outcast of her village. When she’s eventually captured and tortured, she locks part of her mind away, trying to guard the memories of the task she was given. But as time passes, she feels she has more in common with the monster she’s always feared than anything she would have liked to have been.
The worldbuilding was quite original, but I didn’t feel that I had much chance to enjoy it. This book sort of chucked you blindfolded into the deep end. Trying to understand multidimensional travel (I think?) and entirely new races of beings through the eyes of a character who was losing her mind was difficult.
I honestly wasn’t sure that I liked this book until about two hundred pages or so into it. That’s a lot of reading before deciding that you like a book. I never felt like I really understood what was going on, which made it difficult for me to enjoy the story. Hence, why I considered giving it three stars.
Yet, somehow, this was one of the most thoughtful allegories I’ve read—even without having a plot that I really enjoyed. It made me think and look at my own heart and motives. It also caused me to reflect on my relationship with God and how I trust in Him. Never once did the book feel preachy or contrived. Thus, why I would have liked to have given it five stars.
I’ll have to think about this one some more and I hope to get around to rereading it one day. In the meantime, you’ll just have to rely on this bumbling review to decide whether you want to pick it up or not.
The Bottom Line: An appropriate pick for more mature readers who are willing to take a risk on a complex story filled with both darkness and light.
What was the last book you read that challenged you?