Book review: Neal Shusterman’s Everlost

Everlost by Neal Shusterman is a paranormal young adult novel about two teenagers, Nick and Allie, who end up in a strange forest after a car crash kills them. Lief, a boy who saves Nick and Allie, brings them to a safe haven called Everlost, a living space, that does not take long for Nick to grow comfortable in. Meanwhile, Allie believes there is a means by which she can travel back to the Land of the Living.

The book explores the other side, but in a way, where it is no different than the living world. Most people tend to live in fear based on how they view the world. In Everlost, we learn about Mary Hightower , a philosopher who has written books about the world, and while she is fifteen years old, in reality she had died centuries ago.

All the children, especially the younger ones, admire her and possess a blind faith in what she tells them. But what we discover later is that the “truths” she tells the children are based on none other than her own personal fears that trace back to when she lost her brother, Mikey.

Halfway through the book, the reader questions what a soul is or what it means to be alive. While Allie and Nick feel alive, they also lose their identities, and eventually even the memory of their names.

Some of the other children have resided at Everlost for years as well but are unaware of it since they indulge in activities they enjoy. Activities like playing Gameboy have entranced the children into such an intense focus that they have not realized how much time has passed—days, sometimes weeks, and even years. How often do people in general do that with their own routines without actually living?

The more lies that are uncovered, the more the reader questions what is actually buried beneath the surface. Nothing is as it appears. Belief in Mary is challenged when the so-called Haunter that Mary has warned everyone about captures Nick and Lief and leaves Allie alone to rescue them. When she tries and fails she stumbles across a monster known as the McGill and finds out the truth about who he really is.

What is life if you do not risk anything, especially to save your friends? The other children’s fear of Mary prevent them from joining Allie on her quest. So Allie must figure out another way, perhaps explore lands outside of Everlost ,and form allies in order to accomplish her goal. Sacrifice may also be necessary in order to attain what she wants. How many would do that if put on the spot?

Everlost is the first book in the trilogy called Skinjacker. The book explores loyalty, friendship, timeless events, what confidence takes, and what it means to be alive. You can, in fact, possibly possess more soul than you do when you are alive because you realize how much is fleeting and you may have more in common with people in the historic past than you may ever know.

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