Review: Everlost by Neal Shusterman
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Nick and Allie were traveling in opposite directions on a windy mountain road. After a terrible accident, they find themselves traveling down a tunnel toward a light. But they bump into each other again and don't get where they're going. Instead, they end up in Everlost, a ghostly realm that co-exists with our world and is populated with other children who didn't get where they were going. They have a hard time accepting their new status as "Afterlights," a name appropriate for the unearthly glow they have now in their afterlives. Of course, they decide to go home. On the way, they meet many other Afterlights and hear terrible stories about a monster named The McGill, a shadowy figure known as The Haunter, and a famous girl known as either Mary Hightower or Mary, Queen of Snots, depending on your view of her.
I admit that I was a little taken aback by the opening scene and the car crash. It's not graphic, but I expected a YA/MG book to open after the crash, not describe a head-on collision.
My big thing was that I didn't really like anyone. Nick was okay and Leaf was fun, but Allie? She quickly establishes herself as a bossy know-it-all who doesn't listen to anyone else. She gets worse from there--and she's a main character. I really need to like my main characters. I was never sure what to think about Mary either. She's so angelic that you have to suspect she's up to something. Plus, the narrator read her with a holier-than-thou tone which just set my teeth on edge.
There's a twist toward the end that I saw coming from miles away, and I think a lot of other readers will too.
This next bit is going to be way too serious for a piece of YA fantasy, but it's my honest reaction.
I just didn't like the whole concept of Everlost. There's no religious viewpoint offered and there's no clue about what might be waiting at the end of the tunnel, and that's fine, but it just bothered me that these innocents are so easily knocked off course and left to exist in this repetitive, mindless world. If you're going to go so far as to believe in a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to believe that whatever governs that light would set things up better than this.
I told you I was taking things a bit too seriously!
The narrator, Nick Podehl, was okay. He did an excellent job with the voices. Being a new convert to audio, I don't have any other YA readers to compare him to, but I found his general narration to be a little condescending. That's a little too strong a word, but I hope you know what I mean. He was very consciously reading to not-adults.
If you don't rely as heavily as I do on likable characters, you might enjoy this one. It is definitely a unique concept to me. I will not be continuing the series though.
Read an excerpt.
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