Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath, #3
Published: 2014, Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
"Do you feel that?
This heart is yours. It belongs to you. It beats only for you. And somewhere out there is a heart without a home, and it beats for me, and we're not giving up until we find it."
Oh Everneath series, why must you toy with me so? It’s like the series doesn’t want me to be able to form one solid opinion as to its contents. Is it entertaining and compulsively readable? Heck yes. It is a good, quality YA paranormal series? That’s a bit more debatable.
After saving Jack from an eternity condemned to the Tunnels, Nikki and Jack hoped to be free of the Everneath’s influence. In order to keep up her strength on the rescue mission, however, Nikki fed on Cole’s energy three times. What Cole didn’t tell her is that when a human feeds on an Everliving three times in the Everneath, that human begins an irreversible transition to becoming an Everliving. Upon learning this, Nikki vows to take down the Everneath once and for all, and Jack has agreed to stand by her side. Unfortunately, Cole and his Everliving friends have other plans for Nikki: for her to become the new queen of Everneath, ruling with Cole at her side. And to aid in the process, they've stolen her heart.
An unexpected stroke of good luck seems to fall at Nikki and Jack’s feet when Cole loses his memory and believes their story that he wants to help them destroy the Everneath. But the queen of Everneath is aware that Nikki is her competitor - in more ways than one - and with Cole unable to provide them with his centuries of knowledge about the inner workings of the Everneath, Nikki and Jack find themselves racing against the clock one final time, this time with not just Nikki’s humanity but the fate of all souls on the line.
One thing I will give Ashton tons of credit for is that this story never takes a sharp right turn down into love-triangle land. Nikki has two admirers in Jack and Cole. Each of them bring out different aspects of Nikki’s character, and she does care about them both. But it’s also abundantly clear (and repeated over and over again) that Nikki’s heart belongs with Jack. It would have been so easy for Ashton to have made Nikki’s feelings for Cole become romantic, for her to realize that because she and Cole have shared experiences and perspectives, he’s worth at least considering as a romantic option. But the story doesn’t go that route, for which I am grateful.
I will go with what I said in my review of Everbound as my final opinion of the series overall: Nikki is frankly quite unlikable at times and a bit too unbelievable (and selfish) as a martyr. Jack is a good person and makes Nikki a better person because of it, but he’s also toes the line of the perfectly cliched good boy just a bit too much for my liking. As for Cole...well he’s certainly the most fascinating character in this series. And of course the story in Evertrue revolves around the key fact that, for the majority of the book, Cole is suffering from amnesia and isn’t the Cole that readers have grown used to over the course of two novels. In fact, he becomes even more bland than either Nikki or Jack is, which wasn’t the best way to keep my interest piqued.
After some consideration, I’ve decided that I don’t really consider this series to be a retelling. It’s been touted as a retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth but, outside of the fact that the story’s plot revolves around a guy who lives in Everneath (essentially the underworld) and a girl who travels back and forth between the Surface and Everneath, I just don’t really see the comparison. For me, retellings need to contain more than a single element or two to merit that title. Everneath can be compared to the underworld of Greek mythology, but Ashton also brings in comparisons to Egyptian mythology with the frequent mentions of Akh ghosts (another term used to describe the Everlivings). As much as he wants to be king, Cole has very little power in the grand scheme of the Everneath, and Nikki is most decidedly not the queen. References to a newly imagined underworld, a human girl, and an immortal boy do not turn a story into a Hades and Persephone retelling. And, really, does that comparison actually make that many more readers pick up the story?
This is not a bad story, I suppose, and there’s a certain sense of poetic justice to be found in the ending (which I did enjoy). I had difficulties connecting to the characters, however, and I still feel like the story suffers from a few too many tropes. Most of all, it’s just not particularly memorable for me. But I recognize that not every story has to be memorable or distinctive. Sometimes just escaping from reality for a few hours is enough in and of itself. If you like young adult paranormal stories, then it may be worth giving this series a try. As for me, I think I’ll stick with my tried-and-true fantasies when I want to escape to imaginary worlds.
Rating: 2.5 stars