Everbound by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 22nd, 2013
Shelve It: Goodreads
Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.
Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.
Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.
Once Everbound found its stride, I absolutely could not put it down! With the right amount of angst, some surprisingly romantic moments, some even more surprisingly complex characters and a heck of a lot of action, Everbound was a true delight! While there were some bumps in the road, by the time I reached the ending they were mostly forgotten as I tried, in vain, to pick my jaw up off the floor after Everbound blindsided me with a gut-wrenching twist ending!
Slightly slow in the beginning, Everbound did take a few chapters to fully capture my attention, especially once I stumbled on a few inconsistencies that really pulled me out of the story. At one point, Nikki leaves her car at the Shop-n-Go after visiting the Everneath, and walks home. The next morning, however, she commented on driving her car to Mrs. Jenkins’ house. She also made a point to say that it was too early to visit Mrs. Jenkins when she first woke up, but moments later, she heard her dad come home early from work. Later, she heads to the bar where Cole’s band is playing, makes note of how she would smell like beer, but there was no mention of her encountering a bouncer on her way in, to check her
Once I got past the inconsistencies that had me doubling back to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, Everbound’s pace increased by leaps and bounds! Suddenly there was a sense of urgency to everything Nikki was doing, as Jack was fading fast. While it’s completely illogical, it felt like I needed to read faster, like it might buy Jack more time. It definitely didn’t hurt that Ashton was giving us so much information about the Everneath, that my head was constantly spinning. I don’t remember questioning the world-building in Everneath; I think I was too invested in Nikki’s emotional wounds to care about the place that gave them to her. But with Everbound we’re given so much detail about the Everneath, that I feel like its labyrinth was building up around me as I read. The imagery used to describe the Tunnels is something straight out of nightmares, so add in the emotional weapons the Everneath employed, using your mind against you to play tricks and create doubts, and it felt like Nikki could literally drown in her own despair.
But as with Everneath, Everbound’s true strength lay in its complex characters. Broken-hearted and full of angst, Nikki is quite a different person from who she was in Everneath. While her angst might be out of place in another story, I felt like it was warranted in Everbound; who doesn’t deserve to be broken after losing the person that kept them alive while their emotions were drained for 100 years? Using her memories of Jack as a tether was brilliant, and a nice reminder of their connection since Jack wasn’t in Everbound too much. I did find her complete obliviousness to Cole’s feelings a little aggravating at times, even though I would feel similarly in her situation. Can you ever truly trust someone who has said they will do whatever it takes to get what they want, and what they want is you? Her refusal to accept responsibility for her own actions, however, was something that frustrated me to no end. While its true that he capitalized on her moment of weakness, she chose to accept what he was offering; she chose to use him to forget. Her inability to see that she is a walking contradiction is my biggest sore point with this series.
If I’m completely honest though, the real reason I enjoyed Everbound, and this series in general, is because of Cole. It physically hurt to see him in so much pain; I can’t imagine being forced to watch the person you love the most give you detailed accounts of why they love someone else. His relationship with Nikki is so complicated and complex, both because of her feelings for Jack and because she shares a connection with him that she can’t deny, and his motives for their relationship was something I wasn’t able to figure out in Everneath, and still haven’t figured out in Everbound. The fact that Nikki is his tether broke my heart, and is the main reason I believe his feelings for Nikki go beyond wanting her to overthrow the Queen. The dynamic between Nikki and Cole is so emotional, so engaging that it’s easily the reason I will continue with this series.
Even with my love of Cole, which runs deep (I don’t know that I’ve ever been so confused by a character. I know I’m supposed to be wary of him, and I am, but I can’t help but believe he’s being sincere, even when he’s lying!), Everbound was just an enjoyable read for me. And then I reached the final few chapters, and Ashton hit me with the biggest blind-siding I’ve had in a long time. This, folks, is how one writes a twist ending. It was virtually impossible to see the direction Ashton was taking Everbound until it was almost laid out bare. And by then, I was in such shock that, had Ashton been in the room with me, I couldn’t even have formed words to express the depths to which her betrayal hit me. It was awesome!