Wednesday, November 30, 2011


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So something good DOES come along sometimes in paranormal YA.

I am very pleasantly surprised by Brodi Ashton's debut novel, Everneath, loosely based on the myths of Hades and Persephone and of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Nikki Beckett has been sleeping a hundred years in the Everneath, a limbo between Earth and Hell, where the Everlivings have found a way to be immortal. She is a Forfeit, emotional "food" for Cole, the Everliving she decided to follow in the underworld.
Strangely, she wakes up with the image of a brown-haired boy lingering in her memory and decides to Return, albeit for a brief period of time, to Earth. Only 6 months have actually passed in the real world and Nikki has exactly another six months to say good-bye to her family and friends, before disappearing forever in the Tunnels, a sort of hell for Forfeits.

With very few exceptions in mind, I'm usually not very attracted to stories based on pre-packed mythology and its application to modern society... it's old hat.
Not in this case. I was fairly fascinated by the concept of Everlivings and their Forfeits, of the Shades that bind them together (reminiscent of the Fever series) and their feeding on emotions. It's well incorporated into the story and it gives the book a certain dark edge and a more adult cut. (still no sex, though!)

While this story could have easily been characterized by the well-known, trite series of clichés typical of standard paranormal YA nowadays (love triangle, love at first sight, bitchy competition and so on and so forth), it fortunately manages to avoid falling blatantly right into some of them. The love triangle is not properly a triangle (could also be a rectangle, to be honest), love is not of the instant kind and the competition is not bitchy.
It does, however, suffer from what other reviewers have already christened the "Disappearing Parent Syndrome", a definition I'd take a step further and rename the "Missing Adults Syndrome".
Why is nobody questioning Nikki's disappearance for six months and they're just buying into the rehab theory? Wouldn't a police investigation have been opened in case of a missing minor? Wouldn't there be pictures on milk cartons? These same exact questions baffle me even more in respect to the ending: does one not get interrogated in case he/she is the last person to be seen with someone who has inexplicably and suddenly disappeared? The mind boggles.

The strength of this book lies, without a doubt, in its characters.
Nikki is a fighting heroine, she's no helpless damsel in distress. Despite some really stupid and unreasonable choices she makes - like running away from the dorm with no evidence - I liked her. Her love for Jack is believable and strong - on the other hand, Jack's love for her a little less since he went through the whole cheerleading team before asking her out but, you know, I guess this typical man behavior is not that odd, after all). I felt compassion for her, felt the clock ticking away, felt the inexorability of her situation. This genre is in dire need of more Nikkis.

Of the two "main" guys of the story, the one I found more interesting is Cole. He is supposedly the bad guy. But is he? No cardboard cut out role for him. He isn't all good but he's not all bad either. I appreciate these "grey" characters, when I'm not sure whether I have to like them or hate them and the author doesn't make the choice for me by making them unbelievable caricatures. I'm eager to see possible developments of his character.

The person that baffled me the most is Jack's brother, Will. He's got a marginal role in this book but I am sure there's more to him than meets the eye, he spends half the book being drunk but there's something that doesn't convince me about his quasi-homeless situation. I'm positive we'll see more of him in the next books.
Which reminds me that there is, in fact, at least one cliché: this is a trilogy.

Nevertheless, far, far better than most of his "brothers" of the genre, this is a series I'll be following with interest.


  1. The premise of Everliving and the Forfeits sounds absolutely fascinating. I was mildly curious about this book based on the Hades/Persephone mythology but this review just moved it up on my list. I'm glad that there's not the typical love triangle/insta-love thing that's so common. That drives me nuts. The "missing adult" syndrome takes away from the authenticity of a story, that drives me nuts too. I'm glad you still liked it despite that aspect. I can't wait to read it!

  2. I really think you should give it a try Donna. It is certainly one of the best ones out there as far as paranormal YA goes. I particularly liked its darker edge.

  3. I wasn't a big fan of this one, but I hope you don't mind that I linked to your review for a more positive perspective than my own. My review will is scheduled to post tomorrow. :)

  4. Fantastic Donna, sorry you didn't like it more!


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