Author: Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Released: January 24th, 2011
Source: ARC received at NCTE
Interest: 2012 Debut Author
Summary (From Goodreads): 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 have been a big fan of Greek mythology since it was introduced to me in my 8th grade reading class. There’s been an influx in Greek mythology in YA, which I love. Admittedly, Everneath was on my “maybe I’ll read it” list, but after reading a few reviews and listening to people at NCTE talk about it, I decided to give it a shot. I was hooked right away, but about half-way through the novel, the story fell apart.
Everneath has a great hook in the prologue. Nikki is in the Everneath with Cole, and it’s obvious that she and Cole have a strong connection for reasons unknown until later. She’s with Cole and doesn’t seem to remember much about her life, but there’s an image of a guy that’s keeping her connected to her life before the Everneath. She’s remembering a guy named Jack. I loved this because I wanted to know more about how Nikki arrived at the Everneath, who Cole is and why they’re connected, what the Feed is, and who Jack is and why he’s important to her. Brodi Ashton did a great job with the prologue and kept up that mystery by alternating between present day and Nikki’s memories of when she met Cole and ended up with him at the Everneath.
Unfortunately, my intrigue and wanting to continue reading only lasted for about half the novel. Eventually Everneath lost momentum and my attention. Nikki has returned from the Everneath and doesn’t remember much about her life on the Surface because even though everyone from home thinks she’s been gone for six months, that’s the equivalent of 100 years in the Everneath. Much of the novel is about Nikki trying to get her life back and making amends for the next six months before she has to leave the Surface again. During this time, she’s trying to gain back Jack’s trust because of her bond with him and the love she feels for him. Cole follows Nikki back, because he wants her as his queen, but Jack is standing in his way. This makes for the typical love triangle we find in paranormal YA, but I needed more. I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters, so this love triangle had no effect on me as a reader. Much of the focus of Everneath turns to Nikki’s feelings for Jack and her connection to Cole, instead of the story behind the Everneath and why Cole needs her to return. Because I didn’t feel a connection to the characters, I needed more background about the mythology and how it connects to Nikki, Jack, and Cole. I can’t explain why I didn’t feel for the characters, which still bothers me. I can usually pinpoint the reason, but I’m at a loss. The format of the story might be part of the reason because there’s no real build up; we’re thrown into Nikki’s memories about her whirl-wind connection with Cole and her friendship-turned-relationship with Jack. It just didn’t work for me.
Like I said, I needed more Greek mythology. I enjoy the story of Persephone, which is one of the reasons I read Everneath (**Note–After a comment I received, I should add that I know part of the myth connected to this story is about Orpheus and Eurydice**) . The concept for this debut is intriguing, but it needed more connection with the myth. Maybe it will be explained more in the second book, but I don’t think I’ll read the second novel because this one fell apart. We gain more knowledge as the story continues, but at close to 400 pages, the myth needed to be explained sooner. Also, if a novel is aiming for mystery, as a reader I don’t want to come to realizations before the characters. At almost every twist in the story, I knew it pages before Nikki did. Quite a few reviews have mentioned the great ending, but I saw it coming chapters before it happened. It’s a real let-down when I know the ending that far before it actually happens.
I’m disappointed that I didn’t fall in love with Everneath, because I really wanted to. I’m including links to some more positive reviews so you’ll have the option for more balance if you’ve been considering this debut.