Target audience: 12+
Summary from Waterstones:
Nick and Allie don't survive the crash, and now they are in limbo, stuck halfway between life and death, in a netherworld known as Everlost. Everlost is home to those who didn't make it to their final destination: A magical yet dangerous place filled with shadows where lost souls run wild. Shocked and frightened, Nick and Allie aren't ready to rest in peace just yet. They want their lives back. Desperate for a way out, their search takes them deep into the uncharted regions of Everlost. But the longer they stay, the more they forget about their past lives. And with all memory of home fading fast and an unknown evil lurking in the shadows, Nick and Allie may never escape this strange, terrible world. In this imaginative, supernatural thriller, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.
Everlost is a place that exists between life and death. I imagine it as a dimension existing around our own almost like a hologram world but that's just how my vision formed as I read the book. Neal Shusterman's world can only be described as an imaginative masterpiece. Allie and Nick find themselves in Everlost because they bumped into each other on their way to the glowing light after the moment of their death. Once they awaken from their long slumber, they are met by Lief, a boy who has been living in a forest of Everlost for many, many years. Lief introduces us to their new state of being. They are Afterlights existing without needing any food or drink to sustain them. The two new arrivals want to follow their natural instinct to leave the forest and make their way back home. Once they take this journey, the story really begins as the world of Everlost unfolds around them and they meet the characters who have become, for different reasons, leaders of this ghostly world.
Shusterman communicates many ideas and concepts to transform Everlost into a fascinating and believable world. Part of the beauty of the story is learning about these along with Nick and Allie. I really don't want to give any spoilers because this book should be experienced in its imaginative entirety. So instead I'll ask some questions that you may find the answers to by reading the book. Why do we believe ghosts to repeat the same pattern day after day? What happens when your soul travels to the centre of the earth? Why do adults never land in Everlost? Who or what is the McGill?
One of the things that I really liked about this book is that Shusterman doesn't portray Allie and Nick as grieving children who long for their family. He doesn't focus on the fact that they should be in emotional agony. Instead he focuses on their integration into the world of Everlost. Some people could read this as a weakness but I personally see it as a choice not to sentimentalise the book and I like that quality. The plot moves a steady pace as Allie and Nick move around Everlost facing many challenges and fears. The one point I would pick up on is Nick's relationship with Mary. The love that grows between them seemed cosmetic and without any depth. I understand the reasons for this but it still irritated me during my reading.
Reading Everlost was a journey into an unknown world which is populated by the most fascinating characters with ghostly abilities. Although this isn't quite my usual read, I did enjoy it. I am reminded of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book as Everlost has the same extraordinary imaginative power to transport to you to a different ingenious world. I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans 10+ or anyone who is looking for something just a little bit different.