Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Title:  Everneath
Author:  Brodi Ashton
Genre:  Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Format:  NetGalley/Kindle
Release Date:  January 24, 2012

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 best friend, her boyfriend—before she’s 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 even exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious few months forgetting the Everneath completely and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. Cole wants to take over the Everneath’s throne and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
As Nikki’s time on the surface draws to a close and all of her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: finding a way to cheat fate and remain on the surface with Jack, or returning to the Everneath and becoming Cole’s queen (summary courtesy of Harpercollins).

Everneath is an interesting mix of mythology and author Brodi Ashton’s vision of what we would call Hell or Hades or the Underworld or the Everneath as she calls it. Ashton takes the stories from mythology that readers are familiar with and gives them a twist and makes them new. It takes a lot of inspiration from the story of Orpheus attempting to rescue Eurydice from Hades, as well as the myth of Hades and Persephone. Ashton even references both several times. The twist on mythology really gives the story an originality not always seen in the young adult genre. 

Ashton also explores what I feel is the sensitive topic of young love and how it can affect the teenagers who fall into it and what happens when they lose it. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that it was dealt with as carefully as it should have been. My impression of the Everneath is that going there is similar to committing suicide—you leave this earth with no chance of return and going there “makes the pain go away.” Nikki flees to the Everneath to escape a death in the family but more so to run from a relationship she fears is in jeopardy. Is any boy worth giving it all up for? That is what it seems Nikki believes, she chooses the Everneath over life. Nikki very quickly makes a choice that in affect ends her life, leaving everyone who loves her behind and lost. Fortunately, Nikki is given the chance to Return to say good-bye. This gives her the opportunity to see how her choice to “make the pain go away” has affected everyone in her life—her father, brother, best friend, friends at school and her boyfriend Jack. It’s a unique perspective on making a choice—should Nikki make the easy one or should she make the right one? Like I said, it’s a sensitive topic and one that must be carefully explored. I thought Ashton was a bit off-handed in her dealings with Nikki leaving, I’m not sure that the impact Nikki made with her choice was fully explored. Because this book is aimed at young adults and teens, this is a topic that should be dealt with very carefully and I didn’t feel that this was the case.

I also felt that the character development was a bit weak. I thought Jack had the potential to be a very complex and intriguing character, but he was not developed well through the course of the story. Nikki’s little brother Tommy was basically a non-entity throughout most of the book. We received only cursory glances of him in small doses. This is also the case with Jules, Nikki’s best friend, and Will, Jack’s brother, as well. We never really get to know these characters that could have been an asset to the plot. Perhaps leaving Tommy out of the story would have left room to develop the other characters more. Everything we know about every character in the book comes to us from Nikki’s point of view, which is very flawed. I would have liked to have seen the perspective of some of the other characters or even a third-person narrator to give a bit more depth to the story.

Despite what appears to be a negative review, I liked Everneath. It was readable. It certainly wasn’t amazing and it didn’t knock my socks off, but it was a good read. I know that sequels are planned and my hope is that the story and characters will grow with the series. I really wanted this book to be amazing, but it just wasn’t. It really had the potential to be fantastic, too. I thought the cover was gorgeous and I had heard really good things about the book. Too bad it didn’t live up to the hype. As far as recommending it to my girls, well, their TBR piles are nearly as big as mine and I truly believe this one can be put on the back burner for awhile. Maybe if they get to a point where they have nothing to read, I will tell them to pick it up and give it a try.

My grade for Everneath by Brodi Ashton:

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