A few things to start off with:
I love this author. His book was recommended to me by a friend of mine on Goodreads (thanks Amber), and I when I added it to my to-read list, Mr. Jernigan added me as a friend. It gave me a great chance to see him in action with his blog, reviews, and comments. I must admit, No Return wasn’t high on my list. I tend to lean towards sword/sorcery/traditional type fantasy books, and this had a bit of sci-fi mix, which put it further down on my list. However, after following the author, I catapulted it to the top. He is so incredibly interesting and engaging that it rose my curiosity about his book. Follow him and you’ll see what I mean.
Since I’ve followed Jernigan for a bit, I know he enjoys swearing, and actually encourages it. You might not know it based on previous posts or my book, but I cuss like a sailor. My mother clutches her pearls around me all the time. Therefore, I’ll be free with my language out of respect for Jernigan. If cursing bothers you, I’d suggest you stop reading after this paragraph, and I’d highly suggest steering clear of this book. Me? Well, I find swearing keeps me honest. I’m not so cautious of what I say and I tend to be a bad liar because of it. I attribute this to my cussing. I’m less guarded about my words, therefore I speak what I honestly feel. Granted, working in a horribly stuffy, corporate environment tamed me, but now that I’m free of it, I’m slowly finding my spirit.
So, now that we’ve said those things, on to the review.
Wow. I walked away from this book feeling weighted. It was a heavy read. It was not light and airy. It did not induce butterflies of giddy joy. I did not laugh. I did not cry. I read the story of Vedas with a heavy heart. I sympathized with Berun. I rooted for Churli (damn... she is a badass). And my mind wondered during scenes with Ebn, Pol, and Adrash. Honestly, those three POV’s didn’t hold my interest well at all. I’d much rather be with Vedas, Churli, and Berun.
Vedas was my favorite, but Churli and Berun gave him a good run for his money. I can’t really say why I liked Vedas except that I connected with his awkwardness in social situations. It was endearing, something I understood, something—to a degree—I had in common with him. Other than that, I can’t say exactly why I found him so engaging. I just did.
Churli was an incredible, strong female. I never felt her waver in her strength. She is one of the more wonderfully written heroines I’ve ever read. Brilliant. What we learned about her past was moving, different, and explained so much of who she was. Plus, did I mention she’s a badass?
Berun was just damn interesting. I was fascinated by him. I tried to dissect his mind and understand him with little reward. Honestly, I still don’t understand him completely. Maybe a re-read later will help. Perhaps my mind was too full, confused, and overwhelmed.
This brings us to the point where I try to understand my confounded state. It also sparks my cussing, because I’m quite disappointed in myself.
I admit, I enjoy writing reviews because they help me figure out what the fuck I just read (most of the time I don’t know the star rating until I’m done). It helps me absorb everything, solidifies my thoughts and feelings. With this book... well, I just don’t know. Even now, I can’t get my mind wrapped around it. Which brings me to the one statement that seems to fit how I feel: This book was too smart for me. I struggled to get my imagination to kick into gear. Jernigan obviously does not have this problem, and his explanations were detailed and wonderful. Fucking shit was crazy. I read stuff that my brain said: Fuck that. I’m not going to try to construct something for your little mind to visualize. Deal with it.
So, I dealt with it. I did feel a little cheated, a tad inadequate, but mostly I felt (and I hang my head in shame) jealous. I shy away from sci-fi because I know I lack an imagination sometimes. I’m a horribly visual person, and my mind couldn’t deal with this book. I couldn’t immerse myself in the world. I think another reason for this is because of the lengthy recounts of history. I always glaze over in those parts of books, and this one was no different. They were important, written stunningly, and much needed. But, for me, it’s just a matter of personal taste.
Now, what I will say is that, to my surprise, my mind did pick up on the examination of the human condition. This is what also made the book a heavy read. But—and here’s the clincher—I FUCKING LOVED IT. I loved that it made me think, that I didn’t get spoon fed stuff, that I had to force my brain to function. I think sometimes books can be mind numbing; just a place to drift off to. That’s not a bad thing at all. I love those books. But this was a dose of something different.
I’ve read reviews about the sex and violence in this book, so let me address it. Yeah, there was sex. A lot of it. Sex and religion were the at the forefront of this book. If you can’t read a book with sex scenes, I’d forgo No Return. Some of it was done nicely, some of it meh. But I did not feel it was done as horribly as some others have mentioned.
As for the violence... Well, sure there was violence. I’d expect nothing less from a sci-fi fantasy book. I actually could’ve done with a bit more. I like violence in books. It usually equates to action. I like action. It wasn’t overly gory, which was a slight disappointment to me. However, I must warn that I like a good dose of gore, so it might seem excessive to some.
The last quarter of the book was fucking spectacular. It moved quicker, there was less history stuff, and I grew more fond of my favorite three characters. The world is crazy detailed and complex with religious, racial, and political issues. The writing itself was superbly brilliant.
The reason this gets 4 instead of 5 stars is quite simple and boils down to 2 reasons (both of which are personal taste): 1) I never got a picture of this world solidified in my mind, therefore, I was not immersed in the story completely. 2) I’m just not a fan of sections devoted to history. I need more action.
So, that was a damn long review, and I didn’t cuss nearly as much as I thought I would. I’ll end my ramblings with this: I will be buying the sequel when it comes out (probably on the release day), and I’ll continue to follow Jernigan cause he’s fucking funny and has a lot of good stuff to say.