Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Review: Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
Review: Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
Release date: January 21st, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Series: #3 in the Everneath series
Source: ARC borrowed from Lili
Rating: While satisfying in some aspects, this series finale left me mostly underwhelmed and disappointed.
Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself... which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon — or die.
Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally — but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him — and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more. But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?
In this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy, Brodi Ashton evokes the resiliency of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love.
My review of Everneath | My review of Everbound
Oh, Evertrue. I was so looking forward to you. Everbound was one of my favorite sequels ever, and it ended on such a bang. I always have such high expectations for series enders, and sadly this one fell short.
I still have a lot of love for this series, and there are some excellent things going on in Evertrue. The good news is, many people will love this book, and I know several who did. I'll start with the positives first. I've always been enormously invested in the fates of these characters, and that's no different in Evertrue. I really love following along with them. I love the romance, and I especially love Cole and the way he and Nikki play off each other. What's more, this book is funny. Like, people actually make jokes and there are pop culture references. Xanadu! Jack references Xanadu! Jack, marry me.
Nikki has grown a lot, and I'm still touched by her relationship with Jack and the fact that's it's healthy and shippable. She's become a heroine I care for, and has lot a lot of her moodiness. In fact, I loved her in this book (especially when she makes jokes. No, seriously, all a character has to do to make me love them is make me laugh). Though Cole and Nikki's interactions continue to be the best--not to mention Cole's Coleness being all Coley--Jack and Nikki are in fine form in this installment. Also especially Cole. i just really love Cole, okay? I love the way he makes fun of Jack and Nikki all the time for being schmoopy, which they are.
Also, I read this in one evening, so clearly the book had no trouble grabbing onto me. Like I said, I was very invested, and despite a few pacing problems, I couldn't put the book down.
Now, sadly, we must go on to the cons. For me, series enders are always hugely emotional affairs. There's the joy of resolution mixed with the pain of finality. You heave a happy sigh and blink back tears as you close the book at the end. I so wanted that from this, but one or two things--especially one HUGE thing--prevented me from achieving that happy-hurt feeling.
I had an issue with the queen of the Everneath. She is so incredibly creepy at times, particularly in Everbound. I wanted her to be a bigger adversary. I want Nikki's showdown with her to be bigger, more epic, more difficult. Which was another huge problem I had with Evertrue: how easy things seemed to be. Jack and Nikki decide to destroy the Everneath, and while that is presented as an undoable task, it doesn't really play out like one. There is a lot of narrative convenience (happening to remember relevant information at just the right time, just so happening to find the correct artifact right when you need it, etc). This is a huge no-no for me, as struggling through insurmountable obstacles is the cornerstone of drama.
This pacing is also quite off. Everbound was such a rollicking ride and ended with such a bang that I was thristing to dig right into Evertrue, but the beginning is quite slow. That's also where all the best Cole stuff, and all the best Nikki and Jack stuff, is, so I'm not complaining too much, but the plot took a bit to get going. We get a bit lost there in the middle, particularly with a story choice I... did not particularly care for, which I'll elaborate on next. Things start to pick up, and suddenly we are zooming along and there's action everywhere and I'm totally into it and POOF! Over. The last forty or so pages so most of the heavy-lifting, and it's not enough. This book needed to be both longer and shorter, if that makes any sense. (It does. Go with it.)
Okay. So The Thing. The Plotberg, as Meg would call it. The choice that sank the Titanic, aka the story. I can't tell you what it is, as it is ENORMOUSLY spoilery, but I am very, very unhappy. Basically, the choice took Cole, my favorite character and the most interesting of the bunch, and erased all the things we liked about him. I didn't get it. It felt a bit like Ashton didn't know how to get Cole to do the things the plot required, and so she made this choice. Granted, it led to some very, very amusing exchanges, but I was really hoping it would turn out differently. Removing that element from the story removed most of my enjoyment of it, sadly. It made me very Grumpy Cat.
I still have no idea why Nikki's little brother existed, and her relationship with her father feels very... I don't know, secondary. It's odd, and the story hardly ever focuses on it. Don't even get me started on the fact that he keeps trying to send her to rehab without any evidence (physical or drug-test-wise) that she has ever done drugs. There are other reasons teenagers disappear. (Granted, it is not usually because they are trying to bring an end to the Underworld, but you know what I mean.)
I still love this series, and I will always, always love Everbound in particular. There is some fabulous Everneath worldbuilding in this book, and like I said, it's still an intensely fun read, and the end totally choked me up. I just sincerely wish Ashton had made a few different choices in constructing her plots and had stayed more true to some of her characters.