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jenryland

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Everneath - Brodi Ashton This review was posted on my blog on January 5, 2011www.jenryland.blogspot.comYes, okay. You could argue that these days YA does have a lot of what one blogger amusingly calls "sad girls in pretty dresses." I have to confess, I'm a total sucker for a pretty dress. And I must relate to sad girls too, because when I was reading this ARC, I could hardly set my Kindle down. Everneath delivers exactly the kind of intense emotional experience that many YA fans are hungering for.Everneath begins as Nikki "Becks" Beckett is unceremoniously spat out of the Everneath, or underworld. She's spent a hundred years down there with an Everliving (immortal) named Cole. Nikki willingly chose to accompany Cole to the Everneath, an alternate universe where Everlivings preserve their immortality by feeding off the emotion and energy of human "forfeits" like Nikki. Most forfeits don't survive this "Feed," but Nikki did. Cole gives her two choices: become an Everliving and feed off the pain of another mortal, or be condemned to the Tunnels. To Cole's annoyance, Nikki chooses the latter, but he grudgingly grants her six months back on earth to tie up the loose ends of her mortal life. Upon her return, Nikki receives anything but a warm welcome. Rumor has it that she disappeared on a drug-fueled bender. Her father's super-pissed and her little brother is confused. Then she's thrown into the real world version of hell: high school. During her time in the Everneath, Nikki was haunted by the memory of a mortal boy with floppy hair and brown eyes -- Jack, her former boyfriend. She longs -- yet dreads -- to see him again, certain that he hates her. Her former best friend is cool and distant. As a reader, my main question was: how did all this come about? What on earth made Nikki choose to go to the Everneath?I'm not always a fan of the flashing back/flashing forward method of storytelling, but in this case, it's the perfect choice. In the present, Nikki, now a social outcast, tries to remember how to survive in high school. Through her flashbacks, the reader tries to figure out why Nikki would willingly leave her real life and choose such a terrible fate.When the explanation for Nikki's choice was finally revealed, I wasn't completely buying it. But I got over that. The main strength of this book is the wrenching emotion that the author manages to convey. Nikki is one of the most angst-ridden new YA heroines around -- miserable, bitter, at war with the world. And yet, she's sympathetic. That's no easy feat for a writer to to pull off.Everneath draws heavily on two myths: the story of Persephone, Demeter and Hades, and, more importantly, that of Orpheus and Eurydice. What these two tales have in common is the way both Demeter and Orpheus refuse to accept the fact that their loved ones are lost to the Underworld. What these stories also have in common is that both Persephone and Eurydice are promised the possibility of returning to the world of the living. Hmmm. If you're as familiar with these myths as I am, you may think you can figure out this book's ending. I predicted what I thought would happen and, at the same time, desperately tried to resist it. Which made me feel about angst-ridden as Becks. Sad girls, pretty dresses. Bring them on. I'll definitely be back for round two of Becks vs. the world.Try this book if you liked: Fallen by Lauren Kate; Shade by Jeri-Smith Ready