Reviewed by Jade Cranwell

There are two rules that the Dream Investigator must follow:
1. Document everything.
2. Keep moving forward.

The Never Pages is, quite simply, the journal of a Dream Investigator – a mysterious man known only to the audience as Master G_. The Never Pages is the second novel by up-and-coming author Graham Thomas that I have read (so far!), the first being the excellent Maria and the Devil, released earlier this year. Having just finished The Never Pages, I am thrilled to say Thomas is now a writer I completely adore.

This unusual novel presents the reader with an entirely new world, where nothing is impossible and almost nothing makes complete sense (this is not as much of a negative as it sounds, I promise!). We find Master G_ in the NeverRealm, the world between here and the afterlife. It is something of a dreamland, and the theme of dreams and dreaming is carried on throughout. He starts out with two goals: 1. Find Brekker 2. Rescue Lucy – Master G_’s love. By completing the first goal, the second will also be completed; to rescue Lucy, Master G_ must find Brekker, the key to Lucy’s fate. But it soon transpires that things are not quite as they seem, and Master G_ learns of a betrayal of the worst kind that alters his entire purpose and throws him off kilter. I won’t go any further with explanations or plot details, as it is the kind of book that needs to be read in order to be understood, and spoilers without context wouldn’t make any sense anyway.

A side effect of residing in this wasteland is that memories fade, and it is for this reason Master G_ comes to have this journal. He keeps track of his future goals and notes down things that have transpired since arriving in the NeverRealm so he can read back over his journey so far and remember the otherwise forgettable. There is the odd occasion when, due to Master G_’s inability to write at certain points another characters takes over and keeps the journal up-to-date. Thomas does an excellent job of writing from different viewpoints and ironing out any dislike you the reader may have harbored for the character; they are all easy to like and write in their own unique voice. Thomas has a good eye for characterisation and it shows. The elements of his writing I liked in Maria and the Devil, I loved in The Never Pages.

The Never Pages is presented in the journal form; diary-like entries make up a large percentage of the book, with a few handy illustrations added in. The illustrations present visual sketches of the minor characters, maps of places and other elements of the novel/journal that are harder to imagine. It is this rawness of the text and as-it–happens writing style that make The Never Pages such an amazing novel.

The particular edition that I reviewed has an additional two hundred pages of essential extra material, with new appendices that include extracts from Brekker’s own diary that take place before the events of The Never Pages, they all really add to the initial story and put a new perspective on things.

The synopsis itself confesses to being a ‘difficult’ book, and there is no doubt that this is true, however, this will hopefully be an attraction for readers. If you are looking for a quick, straightforward read, this is absolutely not the read for you. But how many people want an easy book these days? Really?

I spent more time than I usually would to read a book, and with good reason; to enjoy and appreciate the complexity of The Never Pages you have to really immerse yourself in the NeverRealm. Also, before writing this review I consulted some already written reviews of The Never Pages to get a feel of how the wider audience found the book, and am pleased to report that everyone liked it a lot! So maybe, even if on the surface this doesn’t seem like the ideal book for you, pick it up and give it a read. You never know, it might just surprise you.

Once again, I would like to heartily thank Graham Thomas for the signed copy of The Never Pages I received, and for writing such a masterpiece, and to the publishing house – theneverpress.com – for being such good sports as always! I’m off now to wait for Graham’s next novel, so until next time…

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