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September 24, 2013
Read this YA Book If…
Everbound: Strong Characters and a Great Twist
by Erin Cowles

It’s always tricky to write the second book in a series. In first books, readers enjoy meeting the characters and learning about the book’s world. The later books resolve mysteries and bring characters together. Then there’s that second book, where certain events need to occur before the big reveals and resolutions can happen.

In many series, the second book feels like a chess maneuver, not a great story in its own right. I’m always delighted when I find a second book that I enjoy as much as the first, so I was thrilled to discover Everbound, the second story in Brodi Ashton’s Everneath series.

Where Everneath fell solidly in the realm of paranormal romance, Everbound shifts more to the adventure sphere. Everbound begins shortly after Everneath’s conclusion. Good guy Jack has taken Nikki’s place in the tunnels, part of the mythical underworld called the Everneath, where it is slowly draining him of his emotions, memories, and life. As he fades, Nikki gets more and more desperate to rescue him. Cole, the immortal bad boy that lured Nikki into the underworld in the first place, still wants her as his queen.

Both desperate, the two form a shaky alliance to journey through the Everneath to rescue Jack. Through their adventures in the Everneath, details about the world and the characters themselves are revealed at a pitch-perfect and page-turning pace.

I’m a big sucker for novelists that can use classic mythology, but still make a world of their own creation. Once again, Ashton delivers. I especially enjoyed her take on the labyrinth myth. Let’s face it — when I think about mazes, I think about cheesy carnival attractions, so I appreciate it when an author can make the myth seem menacing and imaginative.

She also continued her use of the Persephone myth and added some elements of Dante’s Inferno in meaningful ways.

Although the world and the adventure are solid, the characters are what make this novel stand out. I love Nikki’s character development throughout this series. She has clearly learned her lesson about appropriate ways to cope with grief and loss.

She mourns and feels pain, but now looks for hope and solutions. She knows she sometimes has to wound people she cares about to do the right thing, but she does it out of selflessness, rather than selfishness. Nikki has become a resourceful and determined heroine you can relate to and root for.

This is a great book for girls that love a bad boy. Cole shines in this novel. Ashton has created a villain that is complicated and devious, yet vulnerable and sympathetic. A brief scroll of internet forums shows that Team Cole is alive and well.

That said, Jack enthusiasts don’t have to worry. Even though Jack’s real time appearances in the book are limited, Ashton finds a great way to keep him in the game through flashbacks. I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I’ll just say that locating Jack involves using emotionally charged memories of him, and they are tasty.

I also have to praise the ending, even though it is a painful cliffhanger. I’m a difficult reader to surprise, and although I caught what causes the twist, I genuinely didn’t see the consequence coming. Well played, Ashton. All around, I like that she gave resolution to the current story, while setting up the next book perfectly.

Evertrue, the final installment in the (you guessed it) trilogy will be released on January 21st, 2014. My next child’s due date is January 24th, so here’s hoping for a prompt arrival. I’ll be devouring this book as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Read this book if…

Target Audience: Girls, ages 13+.

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