Week 14, Part 2–Everlost

Neal Shusterman’s Everlost was a bit of a let-down. I’d been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to buy and read it, because his other novels are so very, very good.  Unwind is an especial favorite of mine.  But Everlost turned out to be quite disappointing.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1416997490&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifrThe premise of the novel sounds interesting and promising enough.  It is, in fact, quite good.  Two children, Nick and Allie, are killed in a car accident on a lonely stretch of highway beside acres of dead forest. Before they can “get where they’re going,” which is Shusterman’s way of saying heaven or hell, the children bump each other and are thrown out of the tunnel and into a strange, frightening land known as Everlost.  It is a place where the souls of children who haven’t “gotten where they’re going” wander for eternity. They must stay away from living ground, or they begin to sink into the earth until they reach its core.  There are bands of wild robber children wandering the land, and a know-it-all, self-imposed Queen named Mary Hightower.  Worst of all is the legend of the McGill, a terrible monster who inflicts deep emotional and spiritual harm on the children, who cannot be harmed physically.  In the Everlost forest they meet a boy who has been dead for over a century–so long and lonely a time that he has forgotten the name he was given in life.  Allie and Nick take him in and name him Lief, and the trio sets off in search of their former homes and families, and for a way out of Everlost.

The book is fantastic until the point where Allie and Nick meet the McGill, and then it gets ridiculous.  It goes from a dark, serious novel that addresses man’s great question about what happens after death to a wannabe Percy Jackson-esque novel, with silly chapter-names, and a villain who is an absolute buffoon.  Really, the conflict did not feel compelling or suspenseful at all, and instead of wanting to get to the end to know what happens, I wanted to get to the end in order to be able to stop reading.  It is not very often that I say things like that, especially about well-established, award-winning authors.  But you can’t win them all, and this novel of Shusterman’s is amateurish and disappointing. I’d pass it up, if I were you.

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