Rummanah Aasi
 I've heard lots of great buzz surrounding Brodi Ashton's debut novel, Everneath, since last year. I've been very curious about the book, especially in how it would retell the Hades and Persephone myth which has been very popular recently. I was thrilled that the galley for the book was available on Netgalley and I was able to read it. I'd like to thank Harper Collins and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity. Everneath was released on January 24th.

Description (inside of book's panel): Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she's returned - to her old life, her family, her boyfriend - before she's 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 precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance - and the one person she loves more than anything. But there's just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
 As Nikki's time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is 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 queen.

Review: Everneath surprised me in many ways, all good. I had expected your average paranormal romance with an angsty heroine, an adoring love interest, and the inevitable bad boy. While the book has that, it also has a lot of depth and avoids most common tropes of the genre by exploring the consequences of choices that the characters make. In most of the paranormal romances that I've read or learned about, the choice and its associated consequences are often discussed. Impulsive decisions eventually end up being the right one and the characters have a happy ending, but what happens when you make the wrong decision? Is there a way to correct your mistake or is it too late? These questions are the foundation to Everneath and what made the book such a compelling read for me.
  Eveneath is steeped in melancholy and Greek mythology, particularly about the myths of underworld. Nikki Bennett, commonly called Becks by her loved ones, has been gone for six months in the Everneath (aka the Underworld), a place where Everlivings, immortal beings, feed off the emotions of humans to survive. Nikki has come home to say a proper good-bye to her family and friends, most of all to say good-bye to Jack, the love of her life and her best friend. Nikki has six months on the surface before the Everneath reclaims her for good to serve either as essentially their battery in the dark tunnels or to become an Everliving with Cole, the Everliving who took her. 
  When the book begins, you are aware that Nikki willingly made the choice to go with Cole. The reason behind her choice is cloaked and slowly revealed throughout the story. The narrative switches between two time periods, before and after the Feed. I hadn't expected the narrative to switch, but the transition felt smoothed, well timed, and flowed nicely. 
 I wasn't sure what to think about Becks. I felt sorry for her and knew something drastic must have happened that lead her to the Everneath. As I learned more about her rough life, I really liked her. Becks is a steely, quiet girl who is not perfect and has insecurities that we all have, but what I loved most about her is that she admits her mistakes and is resolved to correct them. She took the easy way out the first time, which ended horribly and now she's ready to fight, determined to win. Ashton weaves the metaphor of drug use and addiction quite well into her story especially as we witness Becks' downward spiral.
  The romance in Everneath is done very well. I loved the fact that it wasn't an instant romance and that there is no love triangle, two plot devices in this genre that are overused constantly. Becks' relationship with Jack and Cole are very different. Each of the male characters are fleshed out. Jack is the loveable boyfriend, but he is also Becks' strongest supporter. I guess you could argue his is the angel sitting on her shoulders guiding her, representing happiness, hope, and light in her life. Damaged, yet loving and courageous he battles to keep Becks from being dragged back into the Everneath. I liked that their relationship isn’t always strong and that they work on it together. There’s so much honest emotion and history with these two characters that their relationship arc is solid and real. I ached for their story and desperately wanted to see them happy. Needless to say that I absolutely loved Jack.
  If Jack is the angel, then Cole is the devil that constantly tempts Becks. He is dark, seductive, yet more complex than your average hot bad boy. I didn't think his character was romanticized. You got to see all of him, yet he isn't a one dimensional villain either. It's really easy to hate Cole, and believe me I did, but there was a small part of me that felt bad for him. I wondered how he became an Everling and despite his bravado, if he ever felt guilty about his job. I took notice whenever there was just a shimmer of humanity in him that came to the surface. There is definitely more to Cole than meets the eye and I look forward to learning more about him. Cole has a strange relationship with Becks. He depends on her to live yet he also relies on her for companionship. Though Cole declares he has feelings for Becks, I don't consider them romantic but rather a longing for something that he can never have, which is being truly alive. 
  I found the pacing of Everneath was pretty slow but fans of action and adventure books will probably find themselves wanting to speed things up. Everneath is mainly a character driven novel so I didn't mind the slow pace, but I think the pacing is a reflection on how people grieve, heal, and learn to trust one another. The rushing timelime looms on each chapter, which made me bite my nails in anticipation of how everything will end. I was in the wee hours in the morning finishing the book because I couldn't put it down. Ashton’s writing is strong and serves well for this novel. Her use of imagery is great and she manages to create a rather unique world while staying true to mythology in this book. I will warn you that this is a beginning of a trilogy and the book ends in a cliff-hanger that made my jaw drop and left me teary eyed. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, underage drinking, and some disturbing images. Recommended for strong Grades 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman, Abandon by Meg Cabot, Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
9 Responses
  1. I really appreciated this review. I like how you addressed all of the "issues" I had read about in other reviews -- pacing, transitions, romance, etc. Thanks. Very well done.

  2. Jenny Says:

    YAY RUMMANAH! So glad you loved this one as much as I did! I agree that all the elements were there to make this book full of cliches and things that have been done to death, but she managed to make those elements new and different and I loved that about the story. Truly outstanding review!

  3. Jenni Elyse Says:

    I'm really glad you enjoyed this. I might have had to defriend you. ;) Okay, not really, lol. Really great review. You always do such a great job explaining everything. I hope to be as good as you someday. :)

  4. I really need to get this one read. I like you have been hearing the buzz and now another great review. Need to get this one!

  5. Alright! Its official, yours is like the 100th good review Ive read on this one....!!

    Im buying it...right now!

  6. I'm a fan of fast-paced books but I also character-driven books when they're done right, especially when they involve themes like grief, healing and trust. I know Jenny loved this one too so I'm looking forward to reading this one. The way the romance is set up sounds brilliant!

  7. I'm about halfway through this. I like it, but I put it down. After reading a few great contemporary, everything paranormal has seemed fake the past week or so. I should pick it up and finish it.

  8. Small Review Says:

    Beautifully written review. :) I agree on everything you said, even though I'm not the right kind of reader for this book.

    I'm so glad you pointed out what you did about consequences. It was nice to see a YA character having to "sleep in the bed she made," so to speak. I liked that Nikki didn't spend the whole book lamenting the "unfairness" of it all and instead owned her choices.

  9. Okay, now I want to read this one just because of the way you've described the romance! Two guys but no love triangle? How?! I must find out. And I'm happy to hear both guys are well developed. I think it's gonna break my heart to find out which one loses the girl. I'll probably feel bad for Cole too, even if he is a bit devilish.

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