Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 370
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


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


Yikes! That's a lot of pages!

I know 370 pages isn't a HUGE book, but to me, it's pretty long. What's even more important than page count is how long a book feels, and on that I'm kind of mixed.

Think of Everneath as a cake (yes, I'm pretty sure I can turn everything back around to food). Imagine a cake that's light and fluffy and goes down super easy. When it comes to this kind of cake, before I know it, I can easily scarf down half...and I could polish off the rest with no trouble at all.

Except, I'm not full. It was fun while it lasted, but I don't have that satisfying feeling of having eaten a big meal. I may even begin to regret spending so many calories on something that left me empty.

That's how Everneath felt to me. It went down easy and the pace never felt particularly slow (though it was far from fast), but I'm having trouble understanding how the relatively sparse story I read managed to fill up so many pages.

Wait, is this an issues book?

I had heard that Nikki's experiences in Everneath were a brilliant metaphor for drug abuse and depression. And, yeah, I guess they were. Brodi Ashton did do a wonderful job weaving these concepts together and capturing the emotions of both the person experiencing the trauma and how their loved ones feel in response.

But I'm NOT an issues reader. I don't want to be mired in sadness, and that's what happened here. Nikki spends most of the book oozing detached heartbreak, shuffling through her life in a haze of resignation and hopelessness. She's beyond tears. She's practically catatonic.

Despite all that, I still managed to like her. She may be a drag, but she's a drag with moral fiber. I actually felt sympathy for Nikki. Brodi Ashton does such a good job highlighting how doggedly persistent Nikki is in wanting to do the right thing but feeling like there is no way out for her.

She doesn't sit around moaning about how life is unfair. She doesn't pout, feel sorry for herself, or make poor choices (outside of the obviously very bad choice of getting involved with Cole in the first place. But those actions are understandable and not entirely her fault).

Do I smell a love triangle?

It's true that there are two guys, but Nikki isn't a flighty girl torn between them. It's very clear that one guy is her relationship and the other is her drug. I know that makes it sound kind of bad and normally I would be frustrated with Nikki over this, but I wasn't.

But...I still wasn't feeling the romance. Jack is a nice guy, but he didn't feel particularly guy like. He was just so unbelievably perfect that he felt more like a woman's dream creation than an actual genuine guy. So did I like him? Yeah, of course. But I didn't believe him and so my swoon only went so far. He did remind me of Jay from The Body Finder though (which is a GOOD thing).

Cole, the other guy, also felt a little forced and, I don't know, hollow? I feel like I should have been swooning all over the place for him, but I don't have a good enough grasp on who he actually is beyond a pretty face. There were a few hints at something deeper going on though, so I hope that gets explored more in the sequel.

Yay for retellings! Or...not.

Outside of the gorgeous cover (yeah, I'm a hopeless cover judge), my main draw was that this is a Hades/Persephone retelling. I am totally in love with retellings, but this one didn't cut it for me. The myth was used more as a rough guideline than a playbook of events and characters. This is fine, but I have to admit some disappointment (I like direct retellings more).

I was also disappointed with the sparseness of the paranormal parts. Brodi Ashton created this unique, intriguing world with the Everneath, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. The whole book is told through Nikki's first person narration, and so I only got to know what she knows about the Everneath (which is, apparently, not much).

The story focuses almost entirely on Nikki's feelings--how she feels having come back from the Everneath, and what she felt that led up to her time in the Everneath. Chapters alternate from Before Everneath and After Everneath. I liked the chapters B.E. a lot more. They were like breadcrumbs, with each chapter giving a tiny bit of information that I could use to piece together the Big Mysterious Reason why Nikki chose to leave Jack and go to the Everneath with Cole.

A.E. was a lot less interesting and mostly focused on Nikki trying to rebuild her relationship with Jack. There was also a mystery in this part, but it was pretty easy to figure out and I ended up losing interest the longer it took Nikki to get with the program. There isn't a ton of action in either time period, and sadly the paranormal parts stay far, far in the background.

Bottom line

Everneath is way more of a contemporary issues book than I was expecting and, unfortunately, I'm not the right reader for this story. Nikki's blah mood rubbed off way too much on me and I now feel blah about the whole book. I will be ordering a copy for my library though, as it is a solid read that I think will be appreciated by readers who like contemporary issues, romance, and a touch of paranormal.

It was nice and easy enough to read that I might check out the sequel, but I'm not desperate for it. Everneath ends at a natural point, but it is also a pretty decent cliffhanger, so heads up on that.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Everneath that I haven't addressed? Feel free to ask in the comments!

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  1. This cover alone makes me want to pick it up but I had no idea that it was a re-telling as well!! 370 pages does seem like a lot but it sounds like it's worth it :)

    1. The cover is amazing! I really, really want a smoke dress like that :P Sadly, the MC never gets to wear anything like it.

    2. She never wears it? If I knew nothing else about this book, that fact would turn me off completely. How lame! :(

    3. Very sad. At least we get a pretty cover to look at. But, no not only does she not wear a dress like that, but she also never proudly walks through smoky darkness. :(

  2. It's so interesting to see how each of us can read the same book yet totally getting such different impressions. I loved your cake reference *giggles*.
    I agree with you on Nikki being catatonic and this is what I disliked most about the book - because of this I couldn't connect with her as much as I liked,
    Hoever, I loved the rest! That we got the story "before" and "after" alternating really added to the suspense. I flew through the pages because of this, I could never understand what happened to this girl.

    I just love your reviews:))) Even though I loved it a little more!

    1. I agree! I love seeing how a book can affect different people in different ways.

      I really liked the "before" and "after" and how she handled switching back and forth. That was my favorite part of the book.

      Thank you :) I'm glad you enjoyed the book more than I did!

  3. I really liked this one, but I think it's because a)I expected this book to be really bad because of how much it has been hyped and b)I was looking for a retelling that isn't a direct retelling or a highly romanticized retelling. In those terms I thought it was satisfying and I do believe the drug abuse metaphor really works, but what I was most curious about is whether or not Nikki willingly made the decision herself or coaxed into it when she was at her most vulnerable state.

    I love how we all read the same book and have different reactions/expectations to it. You do bring up some good points though.

    1. I love it when I have low expectations and then a book surprises me!

      I don't consider her decision to have been made willingly. The way I read it, he manipulated her emotions and then effectively trapped her, not to mention, like you said, that he preyed on her when she was vulnerable.

  4. Hmmm interesting review, Small! I'm wondering: If I had heard before I read it that it was like a metaphor for contemporary issues, then maybe I would have felt differently about it. But as I was expecting pure romance and because I don't love paranormal and was hoping this book wouldn't be full of it, I was completely swept away. It's amazing how varying expectations can cause drastically varying opinions.

    I do agree with what you said about Nikki not feeling sorry for herself or moping, which made her a favorite heroine. I also agree that it is a pretty sparse, but as I am a love story junkie and will do almost anything for a good love story, I fell head over heals. And I suppose that's one of the ways we disagree - the love story seriously gave me butterflies!!

    This is a great review, Small! Thanks for being so honest in all your reviews... :)

    1. Oh, I can totally see why you would like this more than I did then, given your tastes regarding paranormal books and romance. I love paranormal and I like the romance to be there, definitely, but not the main focus of the story. So our reactions to this book make sense :)

  5. *high five*
    i'm a hopeless cover judge too! I think the only two covers that haven't disappointed me with their contents have been Paranormalcy and Five Flavors of Dumb, but you know, hope springs eternal.

    Thanks for the cake analogy, I think I know what you mean. I usually don't think anything under 400 is too long - since that's about the standard in romance novels - but some books just feel like... wait... I read so many pages and they went by fast enough but have I really progressed this little in the story?

    Well, that's how I sometimes feel (I hope I made sense).
    I think I'm going to approach this one with caution, I got it on my TBR pile but I dunno, I'm getting edgy about reading it because honestly I don't think I have found a Hades-Persephone re-telling that I've adored.

    1. *high five back* :D

      Firelight by Sophie Jordan was one of my biggest cover judge disappointments. I was crushing on that cover SO hard, but then I ended up not liking the book very much. So many books I love have really awful covers. I wonder if I should start lusting after the books with ugly covers instead :P

      I totally get what you mean! That was exactly what I was trying to say.

      You loved the Goddess Girls Hades/Persephone books! :D But I know what you mean, I've been disappointed by all of the YA retellings of this myth (at least the ones I've read, which...really aren't as many as I thought!)

  6. I am sorry to hear you didn't love this one. I have read so many great reviews. I agree I hate a lot of depressing issues in my escapism. I do love the Hades/Persephone myth. I am going to check this one out still and they we can compare notes!

  7. I think I'm the only person in the world of YA book bloggers who didn't care about this book. At all. I'm glad to know I didn't miss much. :)

    1. There really was a lot of hype, huh? I think it was a good book, just not a good book for me.

  8. I have to say that I will have to agree to disagree - I loved that it wasn't just a retelling, but rather used it as a guideline. (But to me? I don't think any retelling could touch my love for Persephone...)

    I do definitely agree though, that Jack didn't seem like a boyfriend option. He just was too ... I don't know. And Cole? Well manipulative and controlling come to mind ;)

    I loved this book, and I loved your review of it.

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

    1. Totally agree with you on Jack and Cole, but I'm glad we don't agree on the rest. I'd rather you love the book than feel "meh" about it like I do. :)

  9. I love my contemporaries dealing with issues so this one will probably appeal more to me. But, I'm a little disappointed that it doesn't have as much paranormal as it suggests and that the book isn't a direct re-telling but based on an outline of the Hades/Persephone myth.

    1. Hmm...I can see you liking Everneath. I think she did a nice job with the metaphors and you'll probably appreciate that part more than I did. I was disappointed it wasn't a direct retelling, but I am intrigued by the direction she choose to go in. Persephone is a character in the book (well, she doesn't get pagetime, but she's mentioned).

  10. You always have such great food metaphors. I can really relate! I wanted to request this one from NG, but I held off because I already had so many unread titles. I'm trying to do some contemporary reading right now and I'm struggling. I am finding out I just don't like issue books much. They are way too slow. Great review. I'm happy I didn't go for this one on NG.

    1. Hehehe that's because my mind is always on my stomach :P This is a slower book, but the way the chapters are set up between "before" and "after" ups the tension. I can see you going either way on this one. Maybe check it out if you can get it from the digital library, but I don't think you need to rush to it.

      And I, of course, totally agree with you about contemporary issue books. :)

  11. I didn't read your review because I haven't read my copy yet. I didn't want to know what happens or anything about the book. I've avoided all reviews. Anyway, I'm glad you thought it was okay. Hopefully I'll have a chance to read it soon and compare thoughts!


  12. I loved this one!! I was starting to think that I wouldn't have any 5/5's on my blog anytime soon, and then this came along...

    I just connected so much with Nikki. How she'd lost everything and was sleepwalking through life. I thought her loss and subsequent grief was really well done here.

    And Jack, I loved him. I tend to fall for perfection with the book boys (Team Christian, not Tucker! ha!) and he did remind me of MY Jay! ;)

    1. I'm so glad this book was a hit for you! I agree, I think the author did a great job portraying Nikki's loss and grief.

      Hehe we can totally double date without worrying about cat fights :P

  13. "It's very clear that one guy is her relationship and the other is her drug."

    You came up with that line just for me, right? I'm gonna believe that you did, because it's amazing, and now I want to read all about the drug and the relationship....but mostly the drug.


    1. :) She does a great job with making Cole a metaphor for drugs. Appealing and scary all in one!

  14. I just finished reading this one - I didn't love it as much as I hoped. I read a lot more of the "unfair dealings with the fair folk" kind of vibe in it. You know, they trick her into agreeing, and get their way on a technicality. The Everneath world is soooo creepy!

  15. I just finished this. I felt very similar to you. I actually wished there was more of a love triangle. The "right" choice is so obviously Jack. I'd like to see something worthy of Cole to add to the choice. I hope the second book gets that. And Jack was way too perfect. Other than his tendency to throw a punch, he had no flaws.

  16. This is one of those books that's just EVERYWHERE on the blogosphere. The cover screams to me, NO YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS ONE SO DON'T BOTHER. But I admit I've been curious about it. But I'm right, and you're review confirmed that. Issues book are also not my thing, and to be honest, as much as I love retellings, I just don't like how most of them are done. :/ And the possible love triangle definitely makes this a no-no.

  17. I had a lot of trouble getting into this book. I didn't like the beginning at all and I found it really hard to understand. I might try to go back to it, but like you I'm not an "issues book" reader either. Great review!

  18. And I thought I was the only one who felt this way. :D I liked it, but Cole wasn't really my jam and Jack really did remind me of Jake. Mostly though, I just couldn't fully put myself into the story. It was more like I was watching from the sidelines. I liked it, I just thought there was something missing. Although, I don't really know what.

  19. Ah, I loved this book! I think it would connect well with readers who have gone through some sort emotional heartache (as in my case with a family member doing drugs, although there are a myriad of things other than that).

    I remember seeing an earlier comment about the cover but I actually think it's really reflective of the book. Not superficially in the sense of her wearing the red dress but maybe metaphorically in the way that the shadows from the Everneath are coming to suck her back down under. You can see it in the way they're swarming UP to get her and there's actually a shadow under/on her left shoulder where she gets stabbed in the book. XD.

  20. Great review! I want to read this one but I fear it will be another one of "those" paranormal, where the incredibly beautiful cover traps me but I end up being disappointed. I like issues books from time to time so I'll wait until I'm in the right mood for it.

  21. Heh, love the cake analogy. I've been interested in reading this one but thing is, I'm really not an issues reader myself. I don't know. We'll see if I can make the time for it, I guess.


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