Friday, July 2, 2021

Ever by Gail Carson Levine


Gail Carson Levine was one of my favorite authors growing up and I still have my original copies of THE PRINCESSES OF BAMARRE and ELLA ENCHANTED, two of my all-time favorite young adult fantasy novels (in fact, it may be time for a reread). I've also read FAIREST and THE WISH, which I was less enthusiastic about but still enjoyed.

I was really interested in reading EVER because it has so many reviews from people saying it was anti-religious. Seeing as how I am not religious at all, I was kind of curious about that. The premise seemed so innocent, kind of like KETURAH AND LORD DEATH. Kezi, a young girl in a Mesopotamian-like society, is a dancer who lives with her parents. When her mother takes ill, her father makes a promise to their god, Admat, that he will sacrifice the first person who congratulates her return to good health. When that person is nearly her aunt, Kezi breaks in and congratulates her father to save her.

Olus, the other narrator, is the god of wind and loneliness. He comes from a polytheistic society that appears to be vaguely Greek in terms of the pantheon (although unlike Greek gods, they're actually quite nice and not catty bitches). He falls for Kezi because she's pretty and kind of does the whole creep-a-deep Edward Cullen thing, but unlike Eddie-C, he's actually quite nice too (even if there is some bedroom peeping action) and he wants to help her break the curse.

I do not think that EVER is an anti-god or even anti-religious book. Instead, it seems to be a critique against blind faith and old traditions. Kezi is staunchly religious but begins to question some of the tenets, and she dares to challenge her fate to save herself. Likewise, Olus goes from believing that Admat doesn't exist to maybe thinking that he might. It's carefully ambiguous and if the book is anything, it is an homage to agnosticism, and that the only certainty in life is being uncertain.

I personally really liked the message of this book but I'm agnostic so there you go. I think there are different interpretations of this book depending on how you read it but I really don't see the anti-religious motifs people are upset about unless you think that religion necessitates absolutism. The reason I'm giving it a three and not a higher rating is because it has insta-love, that old enemy of mine, and because the writing in here just wasn't quite as good as it was in my two faves. It's not a bad story, though, and I had a good time reading it, and I think encourages skepticism in a healthy, positive way.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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