Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: Nevermore by Keith R.A. Candido

Title: Nevermore (Supernatural #1)
Author: Keith R.A. Candido
Publisher: Harper Entertainment
Pages: 352
Rating: 3/5 Stars

I've had this book - along with two other SPN tie-in novels - sitting on my shelf for years and finally decided to give one a try. I got them more out of a freakish obsession with all things connected to the show than an attraction to the plot, so it's really no surprise I never ventured beyond the pretty, pretty covers. ;p That being said, in the spirit of lightening the burden my bookshelf carries I decided now was the time to read them or just put them up on pbs and be done with it.

I don't think I need to tell you which one I went with.

Nevermore is a mediocre book. No two ways about it. DeCandido's prose is not going to win any literary awards. As such it's no wonder that he writes a lot of tie-in novels for tv shows with a built in audience that will probably give him a try because he's writing about their favorite characters/show. I'm morbidly curious to see if he'd have any luck creating his own completely original material.

DeCandido's main job in Nevermore is having a solid grasp of Sam and Dean Winchester and for the purposes of this novel mostly succeeds. The main problem with this and other tie-in novels - as the other Nerd pointed out to me once upon a time- is that they have to fall within the timeline of the show. That means, there can be little or no real character development. As a result we're given charicatures of Sam and Dean rather than fully fleshed out characters. Dean is the wise-cracking, perpetually on the prowl, classic rock and beer loving badass, while Sam is sincere, focused on the job, the font of all knowledge and haunted/conflicted about his life as a hunter. The one moment in Nevermore where Sam tried to get all deep fell incredibly flat because, like Dean, I didn't have the slightest freaking clue what point he was trying to make. I don't know if DeCandido did either. It was simply an attempt to inject Nevermore with a poignant, emotional 'chick-flick' moment that Dean claims to hate but are a staple of SPN.

Sam and Dean's interactions as brothers are very basic and only scratch the surface. Again, it's not really a surprise because character development has to remain static to still be a tie-in novel and not veer into fan fiction territory - an incredibly fine line. They tease each other mercilessly, work very well together as a team and tend to bicker a lot. At the beginning of the book I was concerned we were going to get a Sam-centric POV that only gave us the most extreme aspects of Dean's character, but I was happily proven wrong. Dean gets his due as well and both brothers are written as the heroes they are.

The case the boys are working is servicable, although I was disappointed that the ritual being used was left as a hoax. It would have been cool to see the boys surprised when the Big Bad pulled off the resurrection of Edgar Allen Poe. I wasn't surprised when the identity of the said Big Bad was revealed as I knew he was the guilty party from the first time he was mentioned, but that didn't hurt my enjoyment of the novel any more than it would on the show. I don't need to be surprised all the time. Often the real fun is in watching Sam and Dean (or any characters) get from point A to point B. The side plot with Manfred Afiri, Scottso and the dead Roxy Carmichael was the true supernatural event and DeCandido does a good job of keeping you guessing as to who Roxy was really begging to love her. I thought it was novel to have the boys actually crash in a house for once.

The way DeCandido incorporated the show's famed classic rock soundtrack was cool, if not incredibly original. Dean's aversion to NYC traffic was amusing and a believable detail. I appreciated Dean and Sam learning more about their reputations as hunters and always love when someone tells them they're better hunters than John - much as I love Big Daddy Winchester.

Nevermore isn't a waste of time for the casual fan who wants an extra helping of the Winchester Bros doing what they do best - saving people and hunting things. For the more, ahem, obsessive fan this book and it's lack of depth will fall flat. I won't be reading any more of the tie-ins but I won't discourage anybody from checking them out.

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