Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review *Everlost*

Yesterday was a great reading day for me. I had the day off *bliss* and I sat in a favourite coffee place finishing off Everlost. Then I read half of Harry, A History by Leaky Cauldron fansite lady Melissa Anelli and started Going Bovine by Libba Bray (which I realize now is 500 pages; I audibly gulped). So a pretty good day.

From Neal Shusterman's website (this blog is turning into a shrine!):

Nick and Allie don't survive the crash, and now their souls are stuck halfway between life and death in a sort of limbo called Everlost. It's a magical yet dangerous place, where bands of lost souls run wild and anyone who stands in the same spot too long sinks to the center of the Earth. Frightened and determined, Nick and Allie aren't ready to rest in peace just yet. They want their lives back, and their search for a way home will take them deep into the uncharted areas of Everlost. But the longer they stay, the more they forget about their pasts. And if all memory of home is lost, they may never escape this strange, terrible world.

My Reading Experience:

It's funny because this description and the cover of the book don't give away anything of the developing plot and the structure and depth this story takes on. Everlost is intended for younger readers than Neal's newest book, Unwind, and you can tell that in a way while you're reading. But at the same time I was struck by how sophisticated the story became. I wouldn't hesitate to convince a 17 year-old to read Everlost.

It starts simply. Nick and Allie, travelling in separate cars, collide and are thrown from their vehicles. They wake up in a forest and standing over them is a strange and exited boy who says he's been trying to wake them for 9 months! When they finally realize their situation, they set off to find answers and try to get home. But the world of Everlost is a lot more complex, and a lot more menacing, than it seems at first.

I was surprised by how imaginative Nick and Allie's world became. Everlost is a kind of dystopian, Lord of the Flies, Peter Pan place where only kids under the age of 15 "live". The explanation, given by Everlost's guardian Mary Hightower, or Mary Queen of Snots, is that adults have a fixed idea of the afterlife and usually get where they're going whereas kids are more easily thrown off path.

Mary Hightower is a very neat character and has an interesting role in Everlost. She has collected children and keeps them safe, from monsters or sinking into the earth. She has also written more books than anyone can read about their world and how to exist in it. Except, once Allie notices a few glaring discoveries about Mary, she leaves to find her own answers.

My only qualm is with the convoluted ending. It kind of ends on a flatter note, with a lot of action and confusion and a few things pulled out of nowhere. But, it is the first of a trilogy (the second is available November '09), and you can feel that by the not-completely-satisfying ending. Otherwise, the characters are totally engaging, and the mystery of Everlost keeps you reading. There are a lot of gems in this book, just like in Unwind, and it is a satisfying read.


In her book, You're Dead--So Now What?, Mary Hightower offers the following warning for the restless soul: "Wanderlust is a dangerous thing. In Everlost there's safety in staying put. Afterlights who are cursed with a desire to travel don't last for long. They either succumb to Gravity Fatigue, of they are captured by feral packs of unsavory children. The few that escape these fates become Finders, but the existence of a Finder is full of peril. Better to seek a safe haven, and stay there. And if you haven't found a safe haven, by all means, come see me"


In her book, Everything Mary Says Is Wrong, Allie the Outcast writes: "There are mysteries in Everlost. Some of them are wonderful, and others are scary. They should all be explored, though-perhaps that's why we're here; to experience the good and the bad that Everlost has to offer. I really don't know why we didn't get where we were going, but I do know this much: being trapped doing the same thing over and over again for all time is no way to spend eternity--and anyone who tells you so is wrong"

I forgot to mention how funny Everlost can be, too.


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Tales of Whimsy said...

WOW. This sounds SOOOO good. Great review :)

Mandy said...

Juju: Thanks! I really love books by Neal Shusterman. Actually, just recently The Book Smugglers gave Everlost a great review. I was cheering!

Cynthia said...

I'm a glutton for any kind of dystopian novel, plus, the cover art is stunning. I'll certainly be looking forward to reading this in the near future.

This was a wonderful review - it's making me want to look into the author's other works as well!


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