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YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Romance, 370 pages, Harper Collins / Balzer + Bray
- Series: first in Everneath series
- Pub date: January 24th 2012
- Disclosure: Received an ARC from the Red Balloon Bookstore. Thanks!
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.The Long...
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 can forgive a book a lot of things if it has a strong protagonist. A setting can be bland, a plot formulaic, a romance so-so if, at the very least, I like the character involved. Unfortunately, Everneath's Nikki Beckett doesn't quite make the cut, and because of that, I actively hated this book while I was reading it. I tried hard, guys. I really did. But even for two weeks after I couldn't stop thinking about how much I'd hated it. And then I promptly forgot about it.
There are some redeeming qualities, of course. Nikki's friend Jules is funny and likeable enough, Ashton's mythology is intriguing (if not quite mind-blowing), and Cole is easily the best part of the novel, even if he fits every bad boy trope on the books. But in the end, I just couldn't get past how bland Nikki was, and how she seemed to be brutally tossed around by the events of the story instead of taking charge at any point. I'm not saying every character has to be smart, strong, and ferocious a la Katniss, but I'd like to see them show some backbone at some point.
There's a running subplot in this book about people thinking Nikki was on drugs, due to her sudden disappearance, weight loss, and social withdrawal, and I couldn't help but laugh. Not at the subplot itself--it could have been interesting if done well--but at the fact that a growing trope in YA seems to be very quiet, meek good girls who seem to think they're bad girls. It started with Bella Swan on a motorcycle, and it's trickled through pretty much everywhere, especially in paranormal romance and contemporary "issue" books. I think it's an attempt to give characters depth, but the whole thing rings so false when all the characters do is kiss tenderly and speak of everlasting love that it's one of my least favorite tropes, even in otherwise decent books. Since I was well beyond the point of thinking this was a decent book anyway, it just made it that much harder to slog through till the end.
Another trope that drives me up the wall? Love triangle insta-romance, which this book has in spades. I'm actually not opposed to love triangles on principle--I think they can be a great way to illustrate internal conflict, and unfortunately it's an uncomfortable experience a lot of people have had--but when you throw in insta-love, two boys who are unspeakably perfect in every way, and also happen to think that the world revolves around a character I despise, it becomes unbearable. The romantic climax of the story was literally the most cheesy scene I have ever read in a YA novel--ever--and that's saying something.
In the end, I can't say exactly what set me off about Everneath so much. I don't think it's necessarily an awful book; the writing's certainly no worse than Stephenie Meyer's and Nikki Beckett no more two-dimensional than Bella Swan, and I certainly didn't have this kind of visceral reaction to Twilight. It's just that Twilight came first and set up the YA paranormal romance tropes of the past seven years, and Everneath just feels like it followed the guidebook. I'm sure it will find readers less picky and cynical than me, but in the end, I'd like to go back to forgetting about it.
...and the Short:
A bland main character and an insta-romance love triangle made this a pretty much awful read for me all around. I'm sure it will find devoted fans, but I'm not one of them.
The Final Word: Not for me.