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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Imagination Needing a Workout? Two Words For You: Neal Shusterman.

(Image from Indiebound)

When the cars Nick and Allie are riding in collide one day, the force of the impact throws them both into the forest. Months later, they wake up to discover that not only are they dead, but they're not in heaven. Or in hell. Or really, anywhere at all. As Lief, a young, freckled boy living in the woods, explains, the pair have been flung into Everlost, a kind of middle world between life and death. Not even Lief, who has lived in Everlost for decades, knows why they are all there, what they're supposed to be doing, or how they might escape. All he wants are some friends, other kids to play his favorite games with him.

Allie, however, has no use for playing in the trees, even if the forest offers a safety not assured in other parts of Everlost. She wants to go back home to New Jersey. Convincing Nick and Lief to join her takes a little work, but eventually the trio takes off on an adventure-filled journey through the strange world of which they are now apart. When they reach New York City, they join another band of lost souls, a group led by an enigmatic leader who knows a lot more about the whys and wherefores of Everlost than she's letting on. To "get where they're going" (Leif's term for successfully crossing from life to death) they'll have to pry Everlost's secrets away from those who guard them most fiercely, face the land's most frightening figure, and learn to live their afterlives on their own terms.

For those of you who, like me, think there's too little originality in the world of children's literature, I have two words for you: Neal Shusterman. Everlost, the first book in his highly-acclaimed Skinjacker Trilogy, introduces a world so unique you really have to experience it for yourself. Try as I might, I can't do justice to the wondrous complexity of it. Just as fresh are the characters, who truly come to life as they battle each other to achieve their own purposes. From a religious standpoint (although this is not a religious book, not at all), I appreciated Shusterman's idea of "heaven" as a place of progression instead of stagnation. A vivid setting, engaging characters, subtle philosophy and really, just everything about it, makes this an excellent read that I highly recommend to anyone whose imagination needs a little workout. Mine certainly enjoyed the exercise.

(Readalikes: Although I haven't read them yet, the sequels, Everwild and Everfound [available May 2011]; Also, a little like Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, The Everafter by Amy Huntley and If I Stay by Gayle Forman)

Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: I bought Everlost with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.


  1. This sounds like a very interesting read. Adding to my TBR list now.

  2. I love Neal Shusterman. But didnt love Everlost just liked it. Some of the characters became annoying to me after a while. I listened to it on CD so maybe it was the reader

    And for some crazy reason, Nick's chocolate on his face bugged the heck out of me.

  3. I've been reading your book reviews, backwards, and I like your style. I am so glad you issue content advisories, as do I. Keep up the good work.

    Another book blogger, from Canada


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