I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Nocturnal is a sweet poetry collection, with a loose narrative exploring a journey of self-discovery and growth after a heartbreak. The poems do not run into each other or form a continuous narrative, rather the book acts as a collection of poems which, by themselves, are weak, but when grouped together in thematic groups serve a much greater impact upon the reader.
However, the weakness of the poems individually does limit the success of this poetry collection. Modern poetry is often not intended to be read separate of its overarching collection, which works well, but there is a certain level of appreciation or emotion I expect to find in each individual poem, just as in each scene or chapter of a book I would expect a certain level of writing and plot and character development, and that is where this poetry collection has fallen short. There were some gem lines scattered throughout the collection, and of course not every line can be a gem, but I was disappointed to find that these nuggets were outweighed and overshadowed by cliche metaphors and a lack of feeling.
Now, this is not to say that the collection was devoid of emotion: the emotions of the speaker were conveyed very clearly, and formed the backbone of the narrative. However, I as the reader was not made to feel the same emotions. Likewise, as with many poetry collections about self-growth and acceptance, this book contains many an aphorism. Unfortunately, there was a lack of balance between aphorism and integrating the reader in the poetry which made the collection feel like a rather didactic collection of aphorisms, as opposed to an immersive experience from which you emerge having learned something which one can apply to one’s own life.
This didactic style of poetry may well appeal to some readers, hence my giving this 3 stars (rounded up from 2.5) instead of rounding down to two, but didacticism is something which I find unappealing in literature, and leaves me feeling somewhat disconnected and cold. Perhaps rather self-centeredly, I found myself struggling to empathise with what the poet was saying, feeling a sense of more objective observation instead, which limited my enjoyment of the book.
Finally, I would like to mention the gorgeous artwork present in this book: the illustrations truly lifted the quality of the work, and complemented the messages and emotions of the poems excellently. The art style was also very beautiful.
In conclusion, I gave this 2.5 stars (rounded up to 3 stars for Goodreads) and recommend it for those who are interested in the book’s premise, and like a more didactic poetry style.