Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Released: 24th Jan (US) 2nd Feb (UK)
Publisher: HarperCollins (US) Simon&Schuster Children's Books (UK)
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.
She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.
As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's..
I was dragged into this book from the very first chapter--it draws you in, making you wonder what's going on,desperate to find out more. It was a really clever beginning. It's rare that I'm drawn into a story so early on, and this was definitely one of those times. I love the back and forth narration--allowing you to see the present and the past at once. It was less confusing, removed the need for endless exposition and kept the story interesting. It wasn't hard to follow because each section was clearly labelled. I loved how it counted down the time left in her Return--it added a frantic feel to the story that I appreciated.
I really liked Nikki. Her struggle to regain the emotions she thought she'd lost forever was really touching, as was her desire to make amends for leaving. I connected with her pretty much immediately. she was a really sympathetic character. She had resigned herself to her fate, but not in a negative "I've given up" way. She was strong, she resisted Cole despite the attractiveness of what he offered her, and I really respected her. The only thing that bugged me about Nikki was the reason she went to the Everneath at all. It felt more like a plot device than a genuine reason. Plus, whilst I loved the absence of emotion in the present scenes, I felt this sometimes spilled over to the flashbacks, removing some of their impact. Having said that, this technique worked really well in the present. Funnily enough, they were still really emotive. I ached for Nikki, for the emotions she did feel and struggled with, for her emptiness. For her pain at interacting with Jack.
Jack and Cole may seem like the traditional 'good' and 'bad' boy characters, but both are so much more. Jack is sweet, considerate, understanding and yet at the same time he's pretty tough. He's not all goody-goody and he's not a doormat. I was almost swayed over to the goodside (I said ALMOST) as a result of him. Cole was...confusing. and confused. He has trouble understanding and expressing the fact he had feelings (what kind of feelings I don't think anyone knows) for Nikki and so fell back on traditional badboy behaviour (snark, smirks, jealousy-inducing actions). I liked that the boys were a bit more layered and a bit less stereotypical. They were recognisable as typical YA love interests, yet different enough that I didn't find myself sighing in annoyance at yet another interchangeable boy.
In fact, that's the main thing I liked about Everneath. It followed the formula, but it diverged from it in ways that made it interesting and unique and yet didn't feel like it was being different for the sake of it. The solution to Nikki's problem wasn't easy to find. There was no convenient internet page will all the answers (seriously, I HATE that. The internet has ruined research in stories). The answers had to be pieced together gradually, from different sources and with increasing urgency.
My absolute favourite part was the second-to-last chapter. So brave. So much happened in that short space of time, and I was left thinking "wow, I can't believe she had the balls to end it like that!" But then I read the last chapter and realised it was going to be a series and felt...a little disappointed. Like the author had backed out of the ending she really wanted. I mean, it's good there's going to be MORE but...I really liked what I thought was the ending. That's mainly what lost a point for me...
Overall, Everneath is a fascinating read. The characters are well developed, the story is the paranormal, mythology-based fiction we all love with careful twists and a delightful lack of cliches. It's beautifully and cleverly written, a must-read for anyone.
Everneath has already been released in the US and is released in the UK on the 2/2/12 by Simon & Schuster UK.