Review: Everneath

Review: EverneathEverneath by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 24, 2012
Genres: Mythology, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 370
Format: Hardcover
Source: Won
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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.

Everneath is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.

First Sentence: “History books call it the Underworld.”

Review:
Obviously, I have been wanting to read Everneath for most of this year. I say obviously, because who could resist this cover? Certainly not me. However, I feared Everneath might turn out to be a crushing disappointment, since pretty dress covers have lured me into many traps in the past. In case you had similar concerns, lay them to rest. Everneath has incredible world building, compelling characters, and solid writing.

The Persephone myth has inspired numerous authors, but those attempts at a young adult retelling which I have read have been ill-considered to say the least. Both of the other two YA adaptions I’ve read, Abandon by Meg Cabot and The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, involved an intense immediate attraction for the Hades figure. A big part of why these attempts failed is this perversion of the myth, trying to forge an immediate romantic connection between Persephone and a misunderstood version of Hades. Well, sorry, but that just does not fly. One of the main elements of the Persephone myth is that she is taken and that she is kept. If right from the beginning she kind of wants to hang out in the Underworld, the author’s kind of missing the point.

All of that lead up is to say that I think Brodi Ashton hit the nail on the head with the Persephone myth. Of course, she put a lot of twists on things, but a lot more of the core of the myth remained. Though Nikki doesn’t hate Cole, who is not Hades but one of the Everliving who lives in the Everneath, she does not trust him either. He did take her there and he did keep her through the months, with her having no say once she let him in a little bit. Cole has a proper amount of darkness to fill this role, and Nikki begins with a sort of weakness I identify with Persephone.

Actually, I loved just about every single thing that Brodi Ashton did with her reworking of the myths. Instead of the Underworld, we have the Everneath, a land populated by the Everliving, humans who have found the secret to eternal life, and Shades, ghosty type things. The Everliving survive by feeding off of the emotions of humans on Earth, but have to bring a particular human to the Everneath every hundred years to Feed. This human is a Forfeit, and once they’ve completed their service, they are buried in the Tunnels to power the Everneath. It’s a wee bit confusing, but mostly just creepy and awesome. Ashton puts a fascinating and unique twist on not just the myth of Persephone, but also that of Orpheus and even incorporates mythologies outside of Greek too.

Nikki, Cole and Jack are the only characters to receive any real attention, but, thankfully, Ashton does a marvelous job with them. Nikki very much has her own way of being, and feels quite real. She is not the most sympathetic heroine, quite passive and depressed much of the time, but she has a core strength, one that she’s slowly finding. Seeing her slowly unfold, like a flower after a long winter beautifully matches the arc of the tale. Because of her coldness, I did have some trouble emotionally connecting with her, but I very much appreciated her as a character.

With the listing of Cole and Jack, you might be worried about yet another love triangle, and I do suspect things are heading that way. In Everneath, though, I hardly felt the romance as a main part of the plot. Much of the time, Nikki is too drained of emotion to feel anything. She doesn’t trust Cole and is unsure what she wants from her ex, Jack. Their interactions are complicated, and all of the emotions are well established and believable. The closest comparison for the romantic arc in this book is definitely Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.

My only real complaint is that I would have liked even more of the stellar world building. During the dramatic opening scene, Nikki declares her desire to go to the surface, Shades fly at her, and then she wakes up in a convenience store. Yes, this is dramatic, but it made no sense. Then, all of a sudden, she seems to know the terms of her sentence up above, but, if some of the things she knows are explained to her, I missed them. I want to know every single thing about this world, and I feel like sometimes some information was kept back from me.

If you enjoy original takes on mythology, Everneath is most definitely worth your time. From what I hear, the second book, Everbound improves on the beginning established here, so I most definitely recommend that you give this one a try.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Remembering is easy. It’s forgetting that’s hard.'”

34 responses to “Review: Everneath”

  1. Love this review — also, since it’s been almost a year since I read EVERNEATH, your synopsis serves as a great recap to refresh my memory before reading EVERBOUND 🙂

  2. Yes! To everything you said. The Persephone myth, the comparison to Wicked Lovely, feeling a tad detached from Nikki but liking her growth as a character… Except I thought that most of the plot, with her memories of Jack, contributed to the romance feel, and it seems like Everneath has more romance/focus on the romance than WL, which is more politics based. But yay! You enjoyed the novel! I too hope Everbound has more fantastic world building :).

    • Christina says:

      Yay! I’m glad you mostly agree with my evaluation.

      So far as the romance goes, I thought this one was political too, with Cole and Nikki. The reader doesn’t even know for sure whether he cares for her or if he just wants her to be his queen for the power it will bring him, which is fairly similar to the deal in WL. I mean, I know he said they would be more if she would let him, but that doesn’t necessarily imply affection so much as attraction. The whole vibe didn’t come off as romancey to me. Plus, in WL, there was a much stronger romantic bond between the MC and her boyfriend than Jack and Nikki have through most of the book.

      Anyway, I’ve heard Everbound is even better, so I am excited!

  3. SO HAPPY YOU LIKED IT! 😀

    Yes, to the love triangle, though as you can tell by the ending, this is pretty obvious. BUT I really think it is done very well in this case. It’s complex.

    It’s interesting that you compare it to Wicked Lovely and I’d agree for the love triangle aspect. Main character wants to be with the love of her life, who is human, but has a connection with the paranormal guy. The only difference being Cole doesn’t have anyone else he is longing for. And THAT really becomes interesting in Everbound.

    I really think Nikki is easer to connect with in Everbound because her emotions are back, whereas with Everneath she so very detached due her situation. I wondered when I read it if that were intentional on Ashton’s part or organic. Were we ever supposed to be attached to her or were we supposed to feel this distance, which fully highlighted her emotional detachment from the other characters. Hmmm…

    Any way, great review! I can’t wait to see what you think of Everbound!

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I mean, I knew all along it would be a love triangle, but it’s not an angst-wank of one, you know? There IS angst, but it’s not for the romance part, but for survival/political gain/etc.

      Very true that Cole doesn’t have anyone else he’s actively longing for, but I could definitely see this going really interesting places in Everbound after that crazypants ending!

      I suspect that Nikki being so reserved was intentional on Ashton’s part, which is similar to how I felt about Aria in Under the Never Sky. I love their plot arcs, but I couldn’t really feel with them in the first books. As such, I expect their sequels to blow them out of the water with awesomeness, which I rather love to see.

      I’m reading one more book before Everbound, but soon!

    • Kat tells me that Through the Ever Night is amazing. I had the same problems with Aria (not connecting with her), but I’m hoping it’s different for book 2. I do usually have more fun with sequels.

    • Christina says:

      Yes, Aria was silly to start, but I was starting to like her by the end of the book. If she continues to develop, things should be much smoother. Everyone I know who’s read Through the Ever Night has said the same thing, so *fingers crossed*!

  4. Blook Girl says:

    Great review, friend! <3 So glad you enjoyed this overall. I liked the non-focus of the love triangle, though there is bound (ha, pun intended) to be one in Everbound. Cole is certainly intriguing, but there's obviously something keeping us/Nikki from trusting him. I love those kinds of "bad guys"!

    I haven’t read Abandon or The Goddess Test, so I couldn’t compare this book to anything else, which may be another reason why I loved it so much.

    At any rate, I cannot WAIT for Book #2!

    • Christina says:

      I imagine the romance will play a larger part in the next installment, but I think I’m okay with that. From the way she handled things in this book and from Steph’s statements, I think I can trust Ashton to handle things in a reasonable manner. I agree about Cole, and Jack’s not a good guy precisely either. Neither guy is a manicpixie or a stereotypical bad boy.

      Ughhhhhh. I love it more for the comparison to those books, actually.

  5. I’m glad you liked it! I agree, this is one of the better retellings of a Greek myth. I’ve only read a couple of others, but they’ve been such disappointments. This was actually rather good!

    I’m really excited to read Everbound, I’m just crossing my fingers that the love triangle doesn’t start to take over the plot. I’ll just continue pretending that Cole doesn’t exist.

    I love your review!

    • Christina says:

      I’ve read a few other Greek myth retellings that were quite good, but there are definitely a lot of stinkers out there. 🙁

      From what I’ve been told by reliable sources, Everbound only improves on Everneath. I suspect there will be more love triangle, but I think Ashton will handle it deftly and make you feel for what’s going on. We’ll see, though.

      Not a Cole fan? I don’t really have a favorite guy at this point.

  6. Yay so happy that you liked this one. I read it so long ago that I read this and was like “who is Jack?” O.o But I think I remember now. They had broken up… prior to her going to Everneath. I think.

    Anyway, I really liked this one too, and I DO remember that the ending was quite the cliffhanger. I would give my left breast for Everbound!

  7. Lynn K. says:

    I was in lust with this cover for ages before finally buying it! xD
    Great review! Everneath is definitely one of the better retellings/Persephone inspired stories.

    “If right from the beginning she kind of wants to hang out in the Underworld, the author’s kind of missing the point.” < --- Couldn't agree more. Reading through your review made me realize how much I’ve forgotten and I really need to do a re-read before Everbound. The problem with books being released a year apart… -____-

    • Christina says:

      I won this one, but I’d definitely had my eyes on it. I don’t buy many books by authors I’ve not read yet, at least not for more than five dollars.

      Yup, my memory has trouble bridging that gap too!

  8. Giselle says:

    Oh wow, for some reason, I thought you were going to hate this book. I dunno why. I really enjoyed it so I’m happy you didn’t. I didn’t LOVE it, but I had very similar opinions. Did you know this book didn’t even start as a retelling? She saw similarities when she was half way through so she made it loosely based on it. And when I read an interview she says it’s actually more linked to the Persephone and Eurydice myth which I agree with. Either way, she made it completely her own and since I’m also picky about these happy go lucky Persephones who apparently like to get kidnapped, I was very happy with the direction she went in this book.

    AS for the reasoning for her sudden appearance at the convenience store, and i don’t remember SUPER well because I read this last year, but I know that every 6 months she can have 6 months back on earth–though she always has to come back. So isn’t it just that her 6 months in the Underworld were over so she finally had a chance to come back, so she did? That’s what I remember from it, anyways.

    I’m excited to read book 2 and I’m sure we’ll get more details & development in it. Fab review, darling!

    • Christina says:

      Ha, I’m not like Jenni, the new hateful one. :-p

      I did NOT know that. The same thing happened with Ironskin, though, which I know you’re just DYING to read. I guess I can see that, though, but I’m glad she did intentionally link them, because I think it made the book richer.

      Much as I want to think it was all in there, I think something was missing. It felt like perhaps an infodump scene was cut to add drama.

  9. Oh, I love love love Everneath! I am glad you enjoyed it and I really agree with you about the bit with the convenience store and how bizarre it felt, but it’s been a long while since I read Everneath.

    ALSO.

    Oh my goodness.

    I really loved Jack as a character.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, yay!, I loved the world building and everything, so I was really confused about why that bit was so muddled. I feel like maybe the editor cut an expositional scene that would have been better left in.

      Jack was cool, but I haven’t chosen a guy yet. I need more data. 🙂

  10. Kat Balcombe says:

    A pretty cover that reads well? Wonders never cease 😉

    Now in the interest of research, was this better than The Goddess Test? It sounds like the characters in Everneath were realistic in their emotions, which is a very good thing.

    Great review, you’ve answered all my questions about this one!

  11. Bookworm1858 says:

    I loved this book so much (way more than The Goddess Test and Abandon). I’m fully Team Jack-boo Cole!

  12. I’m glad to hear you liked this one! I’m always leery of beautiful dress covers, too, and this one is SO gorgeous…

    I love retellings, so I guess I’ll have to check this out!

  13. CK says:

    I’m absolutely in love with this book the moment I saw the gorgeous cover! Cannot wait for Everbound!

  14. I agree, the cover is gorgeous! And thanks for the review, I should not keep my expectation as high then, but I like retelling of mythology so there’s a great chance that I might love this novel!

    • Christina says:

      For sure. If I could go into every book with low expectations, I would. The next book is even better, so I’m definitely comfortable recommending Ashton’s books!

  15. Bea Tejano says:

    Havent read this yet, but it is going on my TBR list:) Excited to get started:) Thanks for the review:)

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