Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #3
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 21st, 2014
Shelve It: Goodreads
Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself… which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon — or die.
Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally — but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him — and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more. But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?
There are times when the conclusion to a series you love disappoints you, and you’re left emotionally fraught; you’re left feeling like the characters made some grievous decision, like you didn’t get enough of a resolution, or that things just didn’t go as expected. And then there are times when the conclusion to a series you love disappoints you, and you’re left wondering why you had cared about the characters at all. Unfortunately, Evertrue is disappointing like the latter.
While not the main reason I was disappointed with Evertrue, the lack of coherent plot definitely played a main part in my overall disenchantment with this series. After deciding that she would rather die than go to the Feed, Nikki and Jack decide that their only course of action is to destroy the Everneath. What came next was almost 300 pages of Nikki and Jack scampering about, collecting valuable items needed in their fight against the Everneath amidst scenes of angst, general posturing and reassurances that a positive attitude and true love would conquer all. While I didn’t necessarily find that their plan to destroy the Everneath was incoherent, the manner in which they set out to do it was so ridiculous that I had a hard time staying invested in their struggle. Between convincing a Professor that the Everneath wasn’t a hypothetical place, frequent visits to the Everneath to visit Ashe who magically had the next clue they needed, and Cole suddenly remembering something that might help them, I found I couldn’t find the energy to care about whether or not they would succeed.
There was also a lot of…liberties taken with some of the supplementary characters. Early on, Nikki makes a point to come clean with Jules, to a point, in order to start repairing their friendship. This new-found friendship is then called upon several times throughout Evertrue, whether to help save a classmate from the Feed or to distract Nikki’s dad so she could run around without his interference. Will, absent for almost the entire book, is called upon towards the end because he magically has training in explosives, which they need in order to destroy the Everneath. And then there’s the Professor: having never heard of the Everneath, he’s able to do research for Nikki and Jack that gets them the information they need about the Everneath’s weaknesses. It was all just too convenient.
I couldn’t stand Jack. Merely a secondary character in both Everneath and Everbound, it wasn’t until Evertrue that Jack’s presence was felt so strongly for an entire novel. He did have moments where I started to think I might be able to like him,
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.
but then he would see Cole and his anger would come to the surface and I would be reminded that he was nothing but a possessive and violent oaf. Where he was one-dimensional and uninteresting before, with Evertrue Jack became an annoying control freak who wouldn’t let Nikki make a decision, even when her life depended on it. His constant overreactions to Nikki’s need to feed off of Cole, his complete lack of understanding when it came to Cole’s usefulness, and his quickness to resort to violence and destruction grated on my nerves.
But easily the reason Evertrue most disappointed me was because of how Ashton treated Cole. View Spoiler »Not only did giving him amnesia create the most convenient plot twist I’ve read about in a long time, it removed the qualities that I most enjoyed about his character. Gone was the confidence I found so attractive in Everneath, gone was the mysteriousness that shrouded his end game in Everbound, and gone was the boy who, ultimately, loved Nikki more than she could ever understand. Giving Cole amnesia not only removed any suspense surrounding the conclusion to the trilogy’s love triangle, but it removed any suspense surrounding Cole’s actions; I wasn’t on edge, waiting to see how he was manipulating the situation into his desired outcome. It felt like a cop out, like Ashton couldn’t figure out how to make Cole work with Nikki and Jack. I missed the enigma that was Cole of Everneath, and without his charisma to ground Nikki’s petulance, I quickly grew tired of her too. « Hide Spoiler
Throughout Evertrue, there was one question that wouldn’t leave me be: why was Nikki so sure that destroying the Everneath would turn the Everlivings into mortals? When had Cole ever told her anything about the Everneath that wasn’t laced with half-truths and whole lies? This question only became more insistent, as even Nikki began to question her motives for destroying the Everneath.
I frowned and started blinking uncontrollably. This whole thing wasn’t about bringing down the Everneath. It was about me trying to survive. Maybe I’d let myself believe that it was about saving the lives of countless potential Forfeits, but wasn’t it really just about saving myself?
Without me, there was no need, really, to destroy the Everneath. Forfeits weren’t exactly innocent. When it came down to it, they all had to choose to go to the Feed.
As the ending drew near, and Nikki realized the truth, I was prepared for Evertrue to take a shocking turn into the unexpected. Unfortunately, Evertrue stayed true to its course, and I lost all hope of Evertrue finding redemption in my eyes.