Book Review x2: Everneath and Lies Beneath

We have a duo of reviews today! And it looks like today’s theme is the things that dwell below us…

Holli shares her love for Everneath, and Jen gives her own perspective on Lies Beneath.

Everneath
By Brodi Ashton
Harper Collins / Balzer + Bray
Self-purchase/Hardcover
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being 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 months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen. As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s 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…

HOLLI’S REVIEW:

I originally heard about Everneath on November 30th, 2011, during a Scavenger Hunt that Colleen Houck was hosting.  Brodi Ashton’s debut novel was the first to go on my list for upcoming reads in 2012.  I’ve been eagerly ticking off the days on my calendar, waiting for its release ever since.  I literally just finished reading this book ten minutes ago.  It didn’t have to marinate long for me to tell you that this novel is a beautiful, well written, bittersweet indulgence.  Simply put, it not only caught my attention, it captured my heart.  What an amazing ride and a bittersweet ending.

Plot: 10

The Everneath is the world of the Everlivings; people who learned the secret to immortality. In order for the Everneath to exist the Everlivings have to feed off the life source of human emotions. These humans are called forfeits. As a forfeit goes through a Feed, they are drained of all their emotions which are tied to their memories. Once the Feed is complete, the forfeit is brought to “the Tunnels” to serve as a battery that supplies the Everneath with the life source it needs to survive.

Seventeen-year-old Nikki Bennett is a forfeit who inexplicably survives the Everneath… temporarily. Cole, her Everliving, was shocked that she retained her youth and sanity after a hundred year Feed (six months mortal time). He also didn’t expect that Nikki would have a reason to return home. Nikki had an anchor to her human life, one memory that kept her alive: the face of a boy, a face that represented love… Jack. Now Nikki is back on the earth plane. She has roughly six months to give everyone she loves in her life a proper goodbye before the Tunnels of the Everneath come back to reclaim her. There is only one way to avoid the Tunnels of Hell… return of her own free will at Cole’s side to rule the Everneath.

Characters: 10

The way Ashton chose to execute her character building was as unique to me as her plot. We got to learn about each character during their present day circumstances, while also getting glimpses of their past interactions. It helped you see how they progressed, grew and changed in retrospect.

Though Nikki made a pretty selfish decision in going to the Everneath with Cole, I am not convinced that she fully knew what she was getting herself into. In fact, as her story unfolds, we learn just how much of a role Cole played in the events surrounding it. Regardless of that major mistake, I found her easy to relate to. She didn’t sulk in her circumstance. She did what she thought was best for the people she loved, even if it meant sacrificing her own personal desires. She acted selflessly in an attempt to do things right in the short time she had left. I cried when she couldn’t, I felt the bitter pain of jealousy when she learned of Jules role in Jacks life, and my heart broke for her in the very end.

Cole was a tough nut to crack. I didn’t know whether to love him or hate him.  The problem I had with Cole, which I’m sure most readers who have encountered his character had, was that he embraced who he was in a very callous way. He almost refused to see how incredibly wrong it was to maintain his life at the price of others. Beyond that, he desperately fought the humanity he very clearly still had clinging to his now inhuman form. There were brief moments where Cole’s resolve cracked and his vulnerability seeped through. In those moments, I felt a strong pang of sympathy for him. However, just as quickly as his resolved slipped, he regained his composure and I was right back to thinking: “Jerk!”

I don’t know where to begin with Jack.  Jack is one of the two male leads in this story. Is he swoon worthy? Jack is not someone you merely swoon over; you fall in love with his character. He is honorable in his choices. He is steadfast through every circumstance. He is committed to following his heart and his love for Nikki withstands their limitations of time. I have to say that his role was more significant for me than any other character written in this book. That is saying a lot considering Nikki was the M.C, but Jack is why Nikki made it through the Everneath. Jack is the reason why Nikki is still alive, and Jack is the reason the story continues. Can we say EPIC?  Jack is the hero of all heroes in my book.

Setting: 8

I’m sure as you read multiple reviews of Everneath, you are going to find that there isn’t a whole lot to be said about the setting itself. I know that seems a bit odd, being the book is primarily named after it. However, most of the detail went into the actual events leading up to the Feed and its aftermath. Because of this, it really didn’t bother me that the setting wasn’t as important to me as it would have been in other books. What I did glean from the setting was outside of the Everneath, it took place in her hometown of Park City Montana. We saw glimpses of her school, job, and home setting, but again, more emphasis was placed on the actually events, rather than the detail of her surroundings. I do wish, however, that there was just a little bit more time spent on creating the Everneath. There was more detail given in describing the Shades than the actual Cavern they were in during the Feed, or the Tunnels that sought to claim the forfeits. Aside from that, it didn’t take away from the book.

Pacing: 10

I have to commend Brodi Ashton on her ability to write an amazing story! It drew me in by the very first page and had me hanging on till the very last word. The momentum steadily built throughout the story until I found myself frantically flipping through the last fifty or so pages. When I was finished I sat looking down at the book, my mouth hanging on its hinges, absolutely speechless. You will not find a single complaint about the pacing of this book. It was flawless.

Style: 10

I absolutely love Ashton’s writing style. You would think that the constant change from present day to past tense would be confusing to the reader, but it wasn’t at all. Her technique was flawless. Each scene was carried out with such precision that it made a smooth transition into the next scene, whether it was moving forward into present day, or jumping back to a previous time. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I truly enjoyed it.

I know the breakdown of our reviews does not include appearance, but I really felt the need to add my thoughts on one more thing. How gorgeous is that cover!? I’m not a shallow woman, but I do admit that a beautiful cover will catch my eye. Not only is this cover ridiculously beautiful, it could not have been more appropriate! I absolutely love how the dress embodies both her present day life and her life in the Everneath. Once you read this story, I would ask you to go back and look at the cover again and see if it changes at all for you. When I did, one thing in particular became clear. I was surprised that I didn’t see it before reading. I will be curious to hear your thoughts as well! 😉

This is one of those books that weights heavenly on your mind long after you’ve put it down. In fact, I find my fingers itching to pick it back up to flip through my favorite parts of the story. “Tell me, friend. Is there more for us?” I looked into his eyes, “There is everything for us.” Everneath is a story of perseverance. It is a story of pure grit, determination, and not excepting defeat. More than that, it is a story of unconditional love that defies all odds. It is going to be an excruciatingly long wait for the next installment, but it will be well worth the wait to find out what happens next! I will sum it up with one word: BRILLIANT!

Grade: 98

Just because I LOVE to see what other people think of the books I have already read, I am posting what my co-reviewer, Jen, thought of Lie’s Beneath; a book that I recently gave a 5 star rating:

Lies Beneath
By Anne Greenwood Brown
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Advance Review e-book (NetGalley)
To be released: June 12, 2012
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

JEN’S REVIEW:

First, I must give a big shout out to NetGalley and everyone at Random House/Delacorte Publishing for the honor of receiving an ARC of this book. I’m a huge fan of novels that revolve around mermaids and I had been eye-balling this book for months. The book is exciting, suspenseful, and really a joy to read. However, as much as it pains me to say it in my opinion the book has some flaws. I will try my best to explain my reasoning for the scores I’m about to bestow without giving away any spoilers. Ready? Here we go.

Plot: 9

As previously stated, I’m a big fan of mermaid books. There is something magical and captivating about mermaids that no other mythological creature has ever transpired for me. But before you get all excited and giggly I must warn you. This book is no Disney movie. In Brown’s debut novel, mermaids take a turn for the worst and instead of sweet and romantic they are dark and dangerous. Humans are prey to mermaids like zebras are prey to crocodiles. Although morbid the concept may seem I was impressed with the uniqueness it brought to the story. One of the main premises of Lies Beneath is revenge. Our main ban of mermaids…and one merman…believe Tom Hancock is to blame for the death of their mother. An eye for an eye is the only way to appease their anger. So their target is Tom’s son Jason, who is married and has two children. Calder is elected to try and find a way to get close to the family in order to lure Hancock out into the water where they can finally take him down. Their chosen hook? Jason’s oldest daughter, Lily.

Although I found this plot to be very exciting and suspenseful I felt it was a little weak at times. In this book Mer creatures don’t age as fast as humans, therefore, Calder and his sisters have been waiting 40 long years to finally acquire their revenge. While reading, sporadically I couldn’t help thinking “so what?” These creatures are targeting a man as payment for a crime he didn’t commit, his father did. And what happens if/when these mermaids are able to take their target down? After 40 years of waiting and five minutes of pleasure through revenge are they just going to go on their merry way? I just couldn’t help wanting a bit more justification as to why they have been hunting this man for so long.

Characters: 7

Unfortunately, character development is not a strong suit in this book. After completing the story I started pondering about the characters and realized that I really didn’t know anything about them. Many years ago I was a big acting geek in school and one of the most important lessons I learned was to know your characters inside and out. What are their likes? What are their dislikes? What are their personalities like? What is their history? What are their plans for the future? These are the kinds of questions I want answered when I read a book. Tragically, if you were to ask me these questions about the characters in Lies Beneath I would have no choice but to stare at you with a blank face. I shouldn’t say ALL the character development was bad. Fortunately, I received good details and descriptions regarding our leading lady, but Calder? Our main attraction? He is just a mystery to me. I also didn’t care for the fact that there was no foundation to Calder and Lily’s relationship. It takes a long time for their relationship to actually sprout wings but Calder seems to have a strong interest, borderline obsession, over Lily right off the bat. Without any bases or reasoning.

Setting: 10

I love the location where this book takes place. Usually, when you think about mermaids you think about everything occurring near the ocean but Brown decides to spice things up for her readers by basing her novel near Lake Superior. That’s right! These are fresh water mermaids!…Oh! And of course one merman…I enjoyed reading about this location so much at times I would put the book down and browse online for images of the great lake. Such a beautiful area! It’s now a goal of mine to visit all the great lakes. I already have one down! Lake Michigan! Four more to go!

Pacing: 7

This is where the book took a serious nose dive for me. The pacing of this book was for the most part ridiculously slow. Brown does a fantastic job of hooking me in at the very beginning. But then things start to slow…way…down…I started getting really concerned when I hit the half way mark and I realized nothing had really happened yet! It wasn’t until about 200 pages in that I felt the book was taking off. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me if the book was a lengthy one but Lies Beneath is only 303 pages…Although the speed of the book is painful Brown does a masterful job of hooking and reeling you in. I put the book down several times out of sheer boredom but I never could stay away for very long. I always came back for more.

Style: 9

As previously stated, Brown does a very good job of pulling you into her story. You can never steer clear from this book for long periods of time. Unfortunately, her story was a bit predictable but I was very interested to see how the events would unfold.

In the end, although it’s not perfect, Lies Beneath is a very interesting and exciting read. I really appreciate the author’s uniqueness. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for book number 2.

Grade: 92

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About Jenna (Does Books)

Working momma of a little pink princess and reader of all things YA. I'm an artist, writer and avid reader who swears that she's having a hard time letting go of the childish things... Let me read your latest YA book and let's see if it makes the grade!

Posted on February 6, 2012, in Book Review, Five Star, Four Star and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Great review Jen! Looking forward to getting my hands on Lies Beneath! I have to see this one for myself. I like the switch up with it being a Merman as the MC! I have read a few great Mermaid stories, … but of course the MC’s were females! That along with it being in a Great Lake? Someone was thinking outside of the box! Love it!

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading the book of everneath. I couldn’t keep my hands down very night I would read of wonderful chapters that excited me to read more & more every day.
    I’m wondering if there is the second edition of this book??? Is there any more … I can’t wait to get my hands on of more of your marvelous stories.
    Thanks, Natasha S.

  3. Park City is actually in Utah…

  1. Pingback: Audio Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton | Ticket to AnywhereTicket to Anywhere

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