Thursday, July 23, 2009

Teen/YA Review: Everlost

For two years now, my son has been urging me to read Everlost, a novel by Neal Shusterman. I’m so glad I finally got to it! It’s a magical and intriguing look at the imagined world in between life and death.

Allie, a girl of about 14, is riding in the car with her dad when they collide head-on with another car, carrying Nick, a boy of about the same age, eating a chocolate bar and riding with his family to his cousin’s wedding. Allie and Nick both fly through the windshields of their respective cars, then feel themselves moving through a tunnel toward a bright light, when they suddenly collide into each other, land on the ground, and enter a strange, dreamless sleep.

“It’s about time you woke up,” [the boy] said.

“Who are you?” Allie asked.

Instead of answering, he pointed to the other kid, who was starting to stir. “Your friend is waking up, too.”

“He’s not my friend.”

The other kid sat up, blinking in the light. He had brown stuff on his face. Dried blood? thought Allie. No. Chocolate. She could smell it.

“This is freaky,” the chocolate boy said. “Where am I?”

Allie stood up and took a good look around. This wasn’t just a grove of trees, it was an entire forest.

“I was in the car, with my dad,” Allie said aloud, forcing the scrap of memory to her lips, hoping that would help to drag the rest of it all the way back. “We were on a mountain, above a forest…”

Only this wasn’t the forest they had driven past.

Allie and Nick discover they are in Everlost, a strange place populated with Afterlights like themselves, in an alternate reality of the life they’ve known. There are peculiar rules and dangers in Everlost, and the boy who was with them when they woke up helps Allie and Nick along. But neither of them feels ready for this place, so they set out to find their homes and families. Their journey takes them to extraordinary places and introduces them to extraordinary beings, as they struggle to remember and hang onto their old lives.

I really enjoyed this magical book. It’s a classic adventure story, set in a mystical place. Shusterman has created a very clever and imaginative after-world. To say much more would give away too much of the story, but it’s sure to appeal to teens and adults as well. A sequel, Everwild, is scheduled for release November 10, 2009. We can’t wait to go back to Everlost!

Simon & Schuster, 384 pages.

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