Despite its gorgeous (like really I want that dress) cover, and interesting premise, I was initially cautious of picking up Brodi Ashton’s Everneath. You know the feeling when you think something sounds really good from the front but not from behind? Well I kinda had the feeling when picking up this book; the cover is beautiful and the summary sounds pretty interesting, but there has to be something wrong here right? Well let’s take a look and see if Everneath proves me wrong . . .
Brodi Ashton’s Everneath takes the classic Greek myth of Persephone & Hades, along with the focus of the myth of Persephone & Eurydice, and retells it throughout the book. The focus of the novel is on the character of Nikki, who has spent about a century trapped in the Everneath, which is basically Hell, with her own personal Hades, Cole. Cole feeds off of Nikki’s emotions in order to survive and stay immortal, but this leaves Nikki with a feeling of hollowness and no memory of her past life; the only remaining image she grasps on to is an image of a boy with brown hair. . . . now who could that be . . . . ladies and gentlemen allow me to introduce Jack, Nikki’s Ever Yours (believe me at the end you will be swooning). Focusing on the memory of Jack, Nikki is able to return home and remain with her loved one; however, Nikki’s time is only clocked at 6 months, and at the end she will either have to accept Cole’s offer of remaining with him for eternity or be sucked into the dreaded Tunnels.
First and foremost, the main focus on this book is centered on emotions. And boy can you literally taste the emotional turmoil and despair that Nikki feels throughout the course of the book on each and every page. I had shivers at certain points, especially the moments when Nikki felt completely empty or lost all hope. My heart broke a bit during this book because of the unfairness of Nikki’s situation and how things never really seemed to go her way, and there are a lot of those moments. But that only made my grin harder when some small glimmer of hope and positivity would occur. So yeah emotional journey and hardships are really big in this book!
Now if we are looking at characters, I was actually surprised that I liked Nikki. On paper she would be the girl I could not stand: she is pretty, popular, boys are totally into her, and she has a loyal best friend AND the hottest guy in school on her arm. But this is all pre-Everneath. Spending a century in the Everneath has stripped Nikki down and made her almost like an outsider in her own life. Nikki is the character that learns to treasure every insignificant moment she has, whether it just be talking about nothing with her best friend, watching her brother cast out or spending time with her father. But the important thing I noticed, as I read on, was that Nikki was not un-relatable as a character even pre-Everneath. Learning more and more about Nikki is what makes her situation so tragic and heartbreaking.
Enter her tormentor and manipulator: Cole, an immortal who leads Nikki on the path of emptiness. Cole is a wicked and cunning manipulator who centers on tormenting Nikki through playing with her emotions. Feeding off and twisting Nikki’s emotions becomes like a game to Cole, who plays Nikki’s emotions like a fiddle and twists her trust into doubt against Jack, her close friend-turned-boyfriend. Cole plays a huge factor in how Nikki behaves towards Jack, and he magnifies and intensifies her fears, pain, and confusion to the max. Cole and Jack are basically as different as night and day, yin and yang . . . peanut butter and mayonnaise! Not gonna give away who you should root for but well . . . one of these guys has definitely overstayed his welcome.
The chapters continually switch back and forth between pre and post Everneath time, and delves deeper into the events leading up to Nikki meeting Cole and allowing him to FEED off of her. I like the flashbacks in-between the chapters, especially as it strengthens the relationship and understanding between Nikki and Jack, which is one that you can definitely root for until the end! The mystery and suspense focusing on Nikki’s purpose to Cole and the cult of the Daughters of Persephone is intriguing, but I am happy that a majority of the novel focuses on Jack and Nikki’s relationship and rebuilding of trust between the two. My only hope is that the next novel (releasing January 2013) will focus more on the actual world of the Everneath, and continue building that bond between Nikki and Jack. Overall, it is the characters that drive this story and I only hope that Ashton continues to keep the focus there!
Overall, Everneath is definitely a read worth checking out. The language and characters are well thought out, and the emotions leap right off of the page. Not much action, but this book thrives on the emotion and struggles of its main characters! This book definitely has the potential to FEED off of readers!
Time travel is something that I don’t really see enough of in the young adult reading world, and it really is a shame because when it’s done right – well the result is Tempest! Time travel is something so magical, and mystical that it really doesn’t have many rules or any real logic behind it. An author can simply create their own rules and not really fear stepping on anyone’s toes or using another’s material because of how broad a stretch time traveling lore has grown. It’s been done to death in movies but has slowly been working its way into books, which is great because - for readers like me – it’s something new and exciting to dive into reading.
Jackson Meyer, our main protagonist, is a 19 year old college student that seems to have everything going for him including a best friend that know about his secret and a sweet, loving girlfriend. However, his secret – the ability to jump through time – doesn’t always make for a perfect dating life, and his girlfriend, Holly, is beginning to really question being with Jackson and his commitment to their relationship. Just when Jackson tries to explain everything to her – BAM – Holly is shot in the chest by two men in black (MIB much?) and Jackson somehow jumps back to 2007; this is problematic because Jackson has never been able to jump that far EVER! Jackson soon discovers that he cannot get back to his own time, and has taken the place of himself in 2007.
That being said, Tempest is really a delight to open from start to finish. Julie Cross actually uses time travel in more of a scientific way, and uses science and genetics to explain how Jackson can actually travel or not travel to different periods of time. What really got my excitement was the interactions between Jackson and the supporting characters including – my favorite – Adam! I felt like Adam deserved more page time and – maybe I am a sucker for the sidekick - hopefully he’ll get more focus in the second installment!
Holly, Jackson’s girlfriend, I felt was really now as heavily focuses on and kind of was there as something for Jackson to focus on. She was not really developed much, and there was some focus on her past and home life that ultimately went nowhere, and I felt was only really there to make readers see her as being really important to Jackson. It is my hope that Holly does not become one of the classic “pretty girlfriends in distress”, and instead gets some of that martial arts, spy training that Jackson received.
Julie Cross throws readers for a loop using two characters that I hope will be expanded upon the next book: Courtney, Jackson’s dead sister, and a little redheaded girl from the future. *Let me just say that the moments between Jackson and Courtney and very sweet, with a heartbreaking last moments that left me with many questions.
Characterization and interaction is the main focus in this story. Jackson and Adam definitely share the top spot for best interaction/one-liners and are my new favorite dynamic duo thus far! The real action and fighting does not occur until the last part of the book, but there is plenty of mystery and suspense to keep readers interested and invested in accompanying Jackson on his journey!
I am a sucker for Doctor Who, so the idea of alternate time-lines and the balance being thrown for a time loop really gets me excited! Add in the secret spy stuff, some kick-butt fighting, great one-liners and sidekicks, and an intense cliffhanger . . . . well . . . let’s just say that this is a read that I would love to jump ahead for the second installment! (less)