Find Adventure in EVERLOST by Neal Shusterman

Cover art for "Everlost"When Allie and Nick are killed in a head-on collision, they bump into each other on their way to the light that is literally at the end of the tunnel. They wake in a strange reality, a land dubbed Everlost. There are no adults, just kids who got sidetracked on the way to that light.

Existence in Everlost requires a crash course in survival. Although they can’t die again, they can suffer, and if they don’t avoid sinking into the ground or running into the wrong people, suffer they will. Together, with a wild child they call Lief, Allie and Nick go in search of answers to questions they could never have imagined when they were alive.

Everlost is an imaginative rendering of the afterlife. Shusterman’s work is reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, perhaps deliberately so. This occurs on a far more grand scale, with no hope of outside rescue. Classic themes, such as bullies, opportunistic scheming, and the struggle between good and evil are strongly represented. Readers will sympathize with the characters’ dilemmas. Very little is straight forward, like in real life. Without adult guidance, kids are left to their own devices in this world. Shusterman handles this situation in a masterful stroke. No one character is perfect, and their actions have believable consequences.

I recommend this novel for teens and more mature preteens. Parents who like dark fantasy may enjoy this novel, too. Everlost is a novel that can be shared between parents and teens, leading to discussions about the world, the characters’ choices, and life and death in general.


4.5 Books
Everlost by Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN-13 978-1-4169-9749-8

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“Darkness Becomes Her” by Kelly Keaton

 Darkness Becomes her cover art

"Darkness Becomes Her" cover art from the author's website

“Darkness Becomes Her” by Kelly Keaton

This Book Marches to Its Own Drummer: READ IT

Book Summary

Ari has always been different. Growing up in foster care can do that to a kid, but so can having hair so pale it looks white, and a mother who committed suicide when Ari was a tot. When she’s old enough to search for answers, she finds a note from her long-dead mother which begs her to “RUN!” Ari ends up in the city of her birth, New Orleans, only it is now a darker and wilder place called New 2. It has been remade in the wake of a disastrous hurricane. There, she finds a city of supernatural people and creatures.

Ari joins a group of young outsiders, each with their own secrets and talents. Little does Ari know that she has a secret yet to be discovered–a secret that could change the world.

Review

This novel pulled me in from the first page. Ari is a character with more depth than some real-life people. She is intelligent and has street smarts. There’s a hard edge to an otherwise vulnerable girl, which leads to very human moments when she has to deal with indecision and fear. And guess what? She doesn’t always make the right choice. She wants to know the truth, but she also fears it. In some other reviews, I’ve seen people criticize this, but I feel it made me relate to her far more than if she was broadly confident. When faced with terrifying choices, real life people don’t automatically make the smartest choices. Throw this character into a setting with lush (and sometimes decaying) detail, and you will forget that you’re reading a book.

If I had to choose a key concept for this novel, it is this: Boldly step forward when you must. Missteps can be forgiven, but no steps leave you forgotten.

This is a fantastic read for teens, especially those who are different from the crowd. Everyone should be their own drummer.

~Christina Wantz


Rating: 5-Books
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Author Website: http://kellykeaton.net/
ISBN: 978-1442409248

The reviewer received a copy of Darkness Becomes Her from the publisher. This has no impact on the quality or consideration of the review.


Vamps… by Nancy A. Collins

Click here to see the review on WUAT.

Vamps

by Nancy A. Collins

Published By: HarperTeen: An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0061349171


Lukewarm Teen Vampire Drama

Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 10/01/2008

Lilith is the New York vampire underworld’s queen bee. Young, filthy rich, and still flame resistant, she lives for high-end labels and adoring lackeys. Other Old Blood vampire girls are expected to bow to Lilith’s whims at Bathory Academy, the prestigious school where hunting prey and shapeshifting are core classes.

So when a night spent “slumming” in Central Park results in the death of Lilith’s right-hand vamp—no thanks to a trashy New Blood—things start to change. That nasty New Blood suddenly shows up as Bathory’s newest student. Lilith sees her as a threat, not just on the social scene, but also with her boyfriend, Jules.

Cally couldn’t detest the idea of Bathory Academy more if you paid her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a choice. What’s worse is that Old Blood brat, Lilith, blames Cally for something that wasn’t even her fault. Why can’t Lilith just leave her alone? Then there’s that vampire hunter guy who can’t seem to leave Cally alone, either…

Nancy Collins’s new novel, VAMPS, is an interesting take on the vampire subgenre. Take one part “Beverly Hills 90210,” one part “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and throw in a dash of “Sex in the City,” and you have a New York vampire buffet with plenty of teen angst.

The writing is solid, but the characters are mostly shallow. Cally shows the most depth with her secret history and personal code. Lilith is clearly the “bad girl” here, but she is so utterly shallow that I couldn’t respect her even as a villain. This is epitomized in the scene where she’s more concerned about her father cancelling her credit cards than about the death of her supposed friend. Many of the things she does or tries to do to Cally are cliché, especially when it comes to her obsessive attitude toward her boyfriend, to whom she’s been “promised.”

There are twists and turns enough to keep a reader’s interest. If you can get past the unbelievably shallow Lilith and a handful of clichés, you’re likely to enjoy this novel. Otherwise, I’d look to other paranormal choices.

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The Summoning… by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning
(Darkest Powers, Book 1)
by Kelley Armstrong

Published By: HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0061662690


Worth the Read
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 07/24/2008

Things are looking up for Chloe Saunders. She’s in to the arts-focused high school she’s dreamed of attending. She’s making friends. And nothing weird has happened in a long time.

Until now. On what started out as a normal day, Chloe’s world is shattered. Terrifying ghosts come out of nowhere, and no one believes her. Chloe’s bizarre behavior lands her in a home for troubled teens. Surrounded by other misfits, she soon learns there’s more to everyone’s “troubles” than they realize. Learning the truth behind Lyle House could cost Chloe more than she imagines.

This novel is the first in a new series by bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, in which she brings her fascination with the paranormal to the Young Adult audience. THE SUMMONING blends popular elements of the genre with an interesting spin of its own.

Armstrong presents a well-defined subculture in an otherwise ordinary world. While the plot is a little thin at times, there’s a solid foundation for future installments. Most of the characters have enough depth to keep them interesting, although Chloe seemed like a watered-down version of what her character could be.

This novel offers promise for an enjoyable series. It had a few bumps, but it was fun enough for me to read in less than a day. THE SUMMONING isn’t the strongest book available in the genre, but it is fun and worth a read.

Click here to see the Chloe Saunders website.

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