Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 24th, 2012
Shelve It: Goodreads
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.
A heartbreakingly beautiful tale of love, loss and immortality, Everneath is the type of book that will leave you broken and sobbing on the floor, as your heart breaks over and over for the fates bestowed upon these tragically hopeful characters.
Having spend the last century in the Everneath as a Forfeit, in the arms of Cole as he fed on her emotions in order to maintain his youth and immortality, Nikki has decided to Return to the Surface in the hopes of making amends with the people she hurt the most with her abrupt disappearance before returning to the Everneath – as either its Queen or as its prisoner – forever. Her time in the Everneath has left her a shell of the person she once was. She emanates this hollowness that pulls at all of your emotions, until you are empty like her, devoid of any kind of feeling. Her ability to laugh (or cry) has been completely shattered, as her energy for such passionate emotions has been completely depleted by Cole.
I did find it strange that no one really questioned where Nikki had disappeared to for six months, or why she had a hard time remembering different things (like where Jack worked). I also didn’t completely understand Nikki’s reasons for her Return. She told Cole it was to say goodbye to her friends and family properly, but then she spends the first three months of her short time on the Surface hiding in the shadows, a mere spectator of the life she once was a part of. She kept justifying her Return by saying she needed to make sure her friends and family would be ok without her, but it seemed (to me) like returning for a brief period, before leaving forever (without a proper explanation) would have been harder for her friends and family to cope with. Nikki does eventually admit her reasons were mostly selfish, saying she needed to see the face that had gotten her through a century of darkness, but I think she also needed to come to terms with how she had arrived at this fate.
Despite all the other factors that had contributed to my fate, in the end it was my decision that destroyed my life. And all the hurt I was enduring now was my doing.
The blame rested solely with me.
Motives aside, I was completely captivated by Nikki. Her physical fragility was no match for her mental strength – she was determined to make her father understand her hurtful words were out of anger, and that she did in fact truly love him. Her hesitance with Jack was only due to her fear of hurting him further – she had Returned with every intention of watching him from afar, and would have been satisfied with knowing he was happy – even if it was without her in his life. Her overwhelming despair only solidified her resolve to make the most out of the six months she had on the Surface, which meant doing everything within her power to make her father happy (volunteering at a food bank on Saturday and submitting to random drug tests) and coming clean with Jack – even if it mean he might walk away from her. I admired her strength and her determination, and her unwillingness to take the easy, painless way out by allowing Cole to take her back to the Everneath as an Everliving.
I loved that Nikki and Jack’s relationship was built on a foundation of years of friendship and that we bore witness to its development through well-placed flashbacks. Their familiarity with each other was written with ease, and their pain at seeming betrayal ran deep – I felt it as if it were my own. I actually felt slight pity for Cole, thinking that he could compete with a relationship built on that kind of trust. I still can’t fully figure out Cole. There were moments where I knew he was being manipulative by either by planting seeds of doubt or feeding off Nikki’s emotions to confuse her. But there were other moments where he seemed to genuinely care for her, to be falling for her, where he tried to keep her from a fate in the Everneath. I still can’t decide if he cared for her for who she was, or if he cared for her because of what she could offer him – a chance at ruling the Everneath.
“Sometimes, when something hurts us, our hearts break a little – in a slightly more…literal way than for humans. Our pain sort of spills out and onto anyone around us. We call it a cracked heart.”
I sat next to him and used the sleeve of my dress to wipe away some of the sweat on his forehead. He was making it hard not to pity him. “Why did it happen to you?”
He looked at me. “Because you were dancing with Jack…When it comes to you and Jack, there is no happy ending. To expect otherwise is delusional.”
Is he concerned because he fears her heart will be broken if she keeps hoping for a future with Jack? Or is he just worried she might choose the Tunnels over him because of her love for Jack? Maybe it’s a bit of both, but I would be interested to read something from his perspective so I could fully figure him out.
As the end drew near, and Nikki and Jack’s desperation reached an all-time high, I couldn’t help but wonder why they thought their plan (of destroying Cole’s heart) would work to save Nikki from a life in the Everneath. Maybe they needed to believe in something, in order to keep some shred of hope alive, but I don’t understand how they reached their conclusion. Though flawed, the ending was still heart-shattering. I hope I could be that brave for someone I love, but I don’t know that I’m that strong.
From start to finish Everneath had me completely spellbound. I love the spin Ashton gave the classic Hades/Persephone tale – I couldn’t put it down and the ache in my chest is something I assume won’t be going away anytime soon.
Disclaimer: I originally posted this review in February of 2012 on Radiant Shadows. In an effort to have a comprehensive list of all of my reviews on Pretty Little Reader, I will occasionally be reposting older reviews, usually before I review/post something about its sequel. They will always be accompanied by this disclaimer, in order to remain transparent!