Author: Frances Hardinge
Published: May 10, 2012
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3.5 stars
In Caverna, lies are an art — and everyone’s an artist…
In the underground city of Caverna the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare. They create wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned. Only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear — at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell’s emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed…
I have had this book on my shelf for a while. I bought it on BookOutlet for a great price and the synopsis sounded really good! But, y’all know I’m a pretty ADD reader and I got distracted so I only just now picked it up and read it. And I wish I could say that I loved it . . . and I did strongly like the last half, but that’s about it. It was just really slow in the beginning.
Thankfully, the mystery of Neverfell’s identity was firmly established from the beginning and it was that that kept me reading. What I thought would fascinate me most, a group of people who have no facial expressions and must be taught expressions only by facesmiths, actually got really old, really fast. For some reason, it just didn’t capture my imagination like I thought it was going to.
Once Neverfell got involved in the politics and elite of Caverna, things started to finally get interesting. I liked how little mysteries kept creeping in to try to distract from the main story and throw you off. I found the Grand Steward to be the most fascinating character of all! Because he has lived so long, he has trained his body to sleep only one half at a time . . . as in his left side is awake while his right side sleeps. And both sides have different personalities!! I will admit that he saved the story for me. Once the Grand Steward entered, I was good to finish the book. Had it been half the length it was, I think I would have liked it a lot better. Overall, I would say that this book is worth reading once, but I’ll probably never come back to it. It’s also safe for younger teens, at least the detail-oriented ones! I can’t say that I would recommend this to all teens, but you could definitely do a lot worse!