Author: Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (January 24, 2012)
Source: ATW ARC Tours
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...
Lately, there seems to be a number of YA books dealing with hell or the underworld. It's interesting to read all the different versions and interpretations. Everneath by Brodi Ashton was quite distinctive. Not only does it combine the idea of the underworld with the concept of immortals, but it starts immediately with Nikki waking up with Cole after the Feed. Talk about immediately being dropped into a new world! Readers won't completely understand what's going on or what happened, but you'll be able to follow along until those answers are explained.
Nikki has a strange journey. She's been gone from her normal life for six months without explanation. When she returns, she doesn't give an explanation and she appears damaged. She's sickly, doesn't talk much, and displays very limited emotions. The rumors that she was abusing drugs are actually the most accurate explanation, given her behaviors and appearance. Nikki's journey is difficult because she came back to make things right with family and friends. She wants to give them a proper good-bye before she has to return to the Everneath forever. Oh, and she only has six months to do it.
For me, the best aspect of reading Everneath was witnessing the changes in Nikki's relationships. When she returns, there's a lot of work to do. Repairing relationships takes time and I thought Ashton did a great job showing how that happens and giving the appropriate amount of time for each.
Because of the relationships Nikki has with Cole and Jack, this story has a love triangle. It's a strange, twisted love triangle, but a triangle nonetheless. As a reader, it was hard for me to decide who would be the better choice. Overall, Jack is the one Nikki loves, but she knows it would crush him to reconnect then have her disappear again. Cole's life as an Everliving is disturbing to Nikki, but I had sympathy for him. He seems to truly care about Nikki. Plus, her other option is to be subjected to the Tunnels forever...not a good thing.
Luckily for me, I knew Everneath has a sequel. If I didn't, I think I would have been disappointed in the ending. It could have worked as a stand alone ending, but if it was the only book, I would have been very disappointed in the end. There's just so much more that can be done and I have hope for some of the characters to get better endings in the future.
Overall, Everneath is worth the read. It has more introspection into life and relationships than your typical fantasy, so it's good for both fantasy and literary fans. It has some romance too, but don't pick it up if you're in the mood for a hugely romantic book.
Final thoughts: Borrow or buy.