Book Review: Neverwas by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed and Larkin Reed

Book II of the Amber House Trilogy
Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed
Arthur A. Levine Books, January 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-43418-8

For those in search of “something different”, this is the trilogy for you. Neverwas: Book II of the Amber House Trilogy is a mixed-up, mashed-up composite of time travel, ghost story and “what if”… the most phenomenal way possible.

As her new home, Amber House does not give Sarah the comforting vibe she’d grown accustomed to when visiting the estate-in-the-family-since-the-1600s. Contrarily, now she feels assaulted by the past, tugged by history. The American Confederation of States, using Sarah’s wise words is, “…..a country that still justified “separate but equal” facilities for the races. Not that “separate” had ever actually been “equal”.”

As an Astorian, Sarah knows all people are equal; she has always been free to eradicate ignorance. This sweetly stubborn sixteen-year-old will not pretend that white males are superior to white females and all non-whites. She will be anti-Nazi whether or not she’s “in public” and she certainly won’t give up her pursuit of Jackson just because his skin is darker than hers. He may act like a hard, serious young man now with his secret meetings and mysterious yellow handkerchiefs; but she knows the boy she admires and adores is still there. More importantly, he is the only one that can help her fix the past to save the present.

Social issues, subtly addressed, seep into the reader’s subconscious…..sneaking up later, seemingly from nothing at all……much like the echoes appear to Sarah as she opens herself to the past. Autism affects Sarah’s young brother Sammy as well as her aunt, Maggie. Deplorable acts against women and non-Caucasians are reminiscent of the happenings in southern states in the 1960s. Sadly, some still occur today. This book incites emotions. Reigning that empathy is as easy as stopping the ripples from a stone tossed into a still pond.

For me, the absolute brilliance of this book lies in the clever, sneaky way that urges….compels…the reader’s brain to consider concepts previously not pondered. On the surface, I found myself immersed and thoroughly enjoying an entertaining, captivating, unique story packed with intriguing characters, hidden agendas and secrets tucked deeply away. On the other hand, I often found myself wondering, what if……

Aside: Could the mention of ley lines be a nod to Maggie Stiefvater’s enchanting Raven Cycle?

Reviewed by jv poore, May 2015.