I’m not sure I’d like Everneath that much if I read it now, but back in March a real-life encounter put me in the right frame of mind for this. What had happened was that someone at work was rather mean to me (*sobs*). I was really shocked at the mean things they said to me (not that I remember now what that had even been about) and worried that this incident might ruin my weekend – I tend to replay such things in my mind incessantly. When I got home that day I picked up Everneath again (I was at the halfway point by then) and realized that the evil colleague had actually helped increase my appreciation of the novel. All of a sudden I was running on emotions that were a constant in my teenage/early adult years. So, thanks to the bitch are probably in order. :o)
At first I was positively surprised by the rare occasion of a first-person narrator who did not get on my nerves with her constant whining about the unfairness of it ALL. Nikki seemed humble and very accepting of her fate. She made a decision and was willing to face the consequences. All she wanted was to make these consequences (her inevitable and irrevocable disappearance into the Everneath) easier to bear for her loved ones.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite see how she set about actually doing anything to reconnect with the people she loved. I understood that she was exhausted and numb from her experiences I the Everneath, where, to her own knowledge, she had spent the last century being emotionally and physically drained by the Everliving Cole, but apart from her affirmation that she wanted to help her friends and family deal with her having to disappear forever in only six months, she didn’t actually DO anything. I never understood why she didn’t try to reconcile her relationship with her best friend Jules, nor how exactly she attempted to mend those with her brother and father. The only one who managed to breach the cocoon she was hiding in was her former boyfriend Jack. And he was the one making an effort, not Nikki.
It was indeed her unquestioning acceptance of her fate that got on my nerves in the end. It took her five months and three weeks to come to the conclusion that she does not want to give up her friends and family and on the surface, so that she only has one week left to figure out how to do this, to find the loophole that will let her stay in this world. Also, the time it takes her to connect the talk about “anchors” to having ties to the surface world made me question her intelligence. She must really have been very exhausted and weak, or rather thick.
The novel is marketed as a retelling of the Persephone/Hades, Orpheus/Eurydice myth, and the names of the latter are indeed repeated over and over again. Jack and Nikki do some research into the mythology to try and find connections to the Everneath in search of the aforementioned loophole that will allow Nikki to stay. It was this “research” I had the biggest issue with, so much so that I had to put the book aside, agitatedly pacing the apartment exclaiming about the education of kids these days. It was this:
I took the book and put it in my bag. I’d been reading about Orpheus and Eurydice on the internet, so I wasn’t sure if the book could give me any new information. (page 290)
Why is the only (or proper) way to do research in this book by asking the internet. Nikki mentioned the library in Park city in passing, so we know they got on, presumably one with real paper books on the shelves. Is this really how kids learn these days? From the internet only? I’ve heard that they are using IPads in classrooms nowadays, but does that mean that they have gotten rid of textbooks as well? I find the notion severely disturbing. And this is not the first contemporary YA novel I noticed this emphasis on new media in.
Nevertheless, I liked the novel enough to finish to finish it in two sittings and apart from the above and some stylistic issues I could hardly find fault with it. There is’ much action and Nikki’s motivation is not always comprehensible to me. Then again, I’ve not been in a situation and an emotional frame like the one she described being in before she decided to follow Cole into the Everneath for the first time. It’s bittersweet and sad and heart-warming and if Nikki is a bit slow on the uptake sometimes this only ensures that the reader can enjoy the novel a bit loner (had she been smarter, the material would have sufficed for a novella at best). The cliff-hanger ending was nice, if predictable, and I’m not quite sure whether I will pick up the sequel or not – but I probably will.
As is obvious from the above, I’m not a native speaker of English and whenever I stumble upon an expression that seems alien to me I’m unsure whether it’s due to my ignorance or if there really is something wrong with the writing. I re-read the following sentence a couple of times, having the distinct feeling that something is wrong with it stylistically (with the structure and the organisation of the clauses), but unable to put my finger on what exactly.
My dad won by a wide margin, so when the polls closed, there was no question. (page 312)
As I could hardly find fault with the novel, I HAVE TO concentrate on the minor things that made them even more jarring for the appreciation of the whole because they were so few and far between. Someone help explain the order of the clauses or the use of the commas to me, please!