Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Everbound & Evertrue (Everneath, #2 & #3) by Brodi Ashton

A Few Quick Notes:
1. Both of these reviews are spoiler-free. Although they may be a little vague - and quite short - they are written that way to avoid spoilers for the entire series. If you haven't read Everneath or even heard too much about it, you still won't be spoiled in the least. While I really enjoyed Everbound I couldn't say much specifically about character growth and what-not without giving away spoilers but for Evertrue I was able to make a lot of generalizations for this series as a whole, reflecting back, but rest assured that despite the differences in the size of their respective reviews, neither contain spoilers. 
2. I rated Everneath 4 Stars. I didn't review it, but I did review the short novella set in-between the time periods when Everneath ended and Everbound starts. You can read my review for that prequel novella HERE if you're curious since I do mention it briefly in my review of Everbound below.


Title: Everbound (Everneath, #2)

Author: Brodi Ashton

Rating: 4 Stars

Everbound is easily the best this series has to offer. Not only is the world-building drastically expanded upon, realistic and visual, but the characters are revealed to contain even more depths than we originally imagined. If there is anyone who steals the show in this installment, though, it is Cole. From the beginning itself we can tell that there is a lot more to Cole than what meets the naked eye and while the prequel novella to this installment didn't convince me of his character, this novel certainly did, painting him to be a deeply misunderstood character. With Nikki we travel deeper into the Everneath, but we also see deeper into Cole, finally getting his backstory, meeting his friends, and putting together thousands of miniscule pieces. It's intriguing, to say the least, and makes this middle book shockingly exciting.

Even the pace of Everbound never lets up, traveling from the Surface to the Everneath and back and forth and back and forth. With so many scene changes, Ashton is able to keep the urgency of Nikki's quest alive. Moreover, short flashback stories dispersed throughout the novel keep Jack fresh in our minds, despite the fact that Nikki and Cole's friendship takes precedence. Ashton never blurs the lines between these two, proving that the classic love triangle can and will be disregarded if need be. Instead, Ashton uses her main leads to their full potential, tying together mythology, relationship, and words in a seamless manner. Granted, the cliffhanger at the end of this novel is a real gut-ripper, but it's almost worth it considering the executive brilliance throughout this book. But only almost. ;)

Title: Evertrue (Everneath, #3)

Author: Brodi Ashton

Rating: 3 Stars

Although Evertrue is a satisfactory conclusion to this trilogy, I still found myself a little disappointed. First and foremost, Ashton must be commended in the way she resolved the love triangle between Nikki, Jack, and Cole. One of the only reasons I've been able to consistently continue with this series is because it is clear that Nikki loves Jack and Jack alone. Yet, the friendship she sustains with Cole - dark, vague, but still strong - is a lovely relationship that is gradually built upon with each novel. As such, the resolution of this romantic dilemma is not so much a surprise as it is a heartwarming farewell. While Evertrue excels in this regard, tying up all the loose ends neatly, it tends to lag in parts and, moreover, the inclusion of our full team of characters on board sadly detracts from the story as a whole.

Ashton's debut trilogy is such a departure from the classic set-up precisely because of its subject matter. Since it explores the ramifications of a mythological Greek Underworld set in our universe, not all the main characters have been present from Page 1. Whether it be Nikki, Jack, or Cole, each of them have spent an equal amount of time in both the Everneath and the Surface, though not always together. In Evertrue they're all finally reunited, different people from when they first met but similar in the ways that count most. Unfortunately, though, instead of utilizing this plot set-up to its full potential, Ashton sacrifices tell-tale character personalities for the sake of conveniently solving the dilemmas she has created. I cannot explain this any better without giving away spoilers, but while I expected Nikki, Jack, and Cole to fit into the molds we've come to associate them with, certain plot devices prevented that from fully occurring and, as such, took away from the overall enjoyment of this story.

While the pacing of this book is a slight issue, it is easily overlooked and forgivable. What isn't, however, so easy to let go of is the fact that Nikki's father and brother, secondary characters who have been present throughout the series, are ultimately not fleshed out to their full potential. Although Everneath may not have been the strongest debut, the raw emotions Nikki felt in being reunited with her broken family, lovesick boyfriend, and worried friends made the novel stand out. From the first word to the last, Ashton is a master at forcing her readers to feel every emotion, particularly if it is a complex one. With every installment, I've enjoyed how Ashton has pushed and pulled our perceptions of the characters we've come to love. Nothing remains in stasis, especially the gray matter apparent in these books which shifts around from one character to the next. With such detailed personas at our fingertips, the underused characters are starkly highlighted and, sadly, disappointing in comparison. Although I initially appreciated that Ashton kept Nikki's family a realistic element of this series, I wish that her father's role as Mayor was truthfully conveyed instead of standing as a convenient plot point (as does her summer classes, etc.).

And there, perhaps, is where my root issue with this book lies: convenience. While Nikki and Jack have been frantically chasing down contacts to find out more about the Everneath, a mere professor is able to decipher an old document and re-cap everything that Jack and Nikki have learned in the past two installments - and more! Fulfilling the task Nikki set out to achieve isn't simple, but it lost its sense of urgency since events snowballed into creating a solution. Evertrue is very firmly a reading experience: a reader from the outside looking at words on a page of how a challenge is overcome. Unlike with Everbound where the reader is practically in the tunnels with Nikki herself, this sequel failed to capture those same emotions. Nevertheless, the themes running through these books - fate, redemption, forgiveness, humanity, friendship, love - are all important ones that resonate even more soundly with each installment. Ashton's characters are impeccably drawn, her writing crisp and accessible, and her ideas creative in a genre starving for innovation. As such, despite the rough patches I ran into with this book, I'm definitely on board for whatever Ashton writes next.

15 comments:

  1. This is one of the trilogies I actually want to finish. I agree with you Ashton really made you feel Nikki's emotions in the first book. I'm so relieved that the love triangle wasn't really ever a love triangle, and that Jack was always the clear winner. That being said I'm looking forward to getting to know Cole a little more. I'm happy to hear overall the series was a success, Keertana! Lovely reviews! :)

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  2. I am glad it made it through the rough patches, I give up way to easily

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  3. Interesting. I'm thinking I might need to read these now. I don't know much about them but the covers are beautiful and your reviews are intriguing.

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  4. I really love Brodi's writing style, though I can't say I've read past book one. I'm a bit bummed to see it go from a 4 to a 3 star review between books two and three though...I'd much prefer to go the opposite way! Great reviews, Keertana! :)

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  5. "it is clear that Nikki loves Jack and Jack alone. Yet, the friendship she sustains with Cole - dark, vague, but still strong - is a lovely relationship that is gradually built upon with each novel."

    That is what I've loved most about this series too Keertana! Cole has been such a fascinating character throughout, and I've loved his presence despite the fact that it sometimes threatened to form a dreaded love triangle. Nikki was always upfront about her feelings though, and I could have just hugged her for never waffling:) I thought Everbound was the strongest of the group as well, and while I did thoroughly enjoy Evertrue, that second book will always stand out in my mind the most!

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  6. I have only glanced over your review of Evertrue as I'm currently reading it and I'm really enjoying it. Granted the love traingle has left me anxious. In this particular series, I really didn't like it. Jack is her love and Cole is someone she likes and could be friends with I think. I would rather they left it at that. Its like Twilight a bit. I throughly enjoyed Everbound especially the world building, the pace of it and the flashbacks. It was insightful to see Cole characters. But I still think he can be a jerk sometimes towards Nikki and her relationship with Jack. But brilliant reviews, Keertana as always. :)

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  7. I had pretty mixed/indifferent feelings towards the first book, so I never read the second. I've been a little tempted after seeing all the great reviews (why does this always happen?), but your review of the third one makes me think I probably made the right choice.

    I would love to see this author write something different, though. I've seen her tweets and such in passing, and she seems so fun! It would be interesting to see a contemporary that incorporated some of her humor, maybe. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  8. I do think I have the first book and haven't gotten to it yet. I do like the sound of the relationship and it doesn't sound like a triangle... but one romance and one friendship. I can deal! :) I really need to read the first book to get to that second one! :D

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  9. LOL- I have the whole series and haven't even started it! I am glad to know that overall you enjoyed the series and you did a great job (I'm pretty sure) of not giving any spoilers. You usually don't, it's the only reason I felt safe reading your review! Great review, too! I'll pick it up soon!

    Heather

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  10. @Wendy: Is it weird that I don't follow Ashton on Twitter? (Or at least don't read her tweets? I'm horrible about internet presence!) I think a lot of Ashton's humor comes through with Cole's character, though I'd love a truly comedic contemporary from her since she's quite good with both romance and in-depth relationships. Also, I don't think you're missing THAT much by skipping out on this. It's one of those few trilogies that worked out for me, but that doesn't mean it's amaaaazing either.

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  11. @Melissa: It DOES have a few love-triangle-like moments, but it very firmly only contains ONE romance, despite the romantic interest of two boys for the same girl. I definitely think you won't have much of a problem with the love triangle aspect of this. It's extremely well-done, thankfully.

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  12. I actually tried the first book on audio after my bestie Lisa's pretty convincing review, but for some reason, I couldn't get past the first few chapters. I know what you mean by readong experience. I hate to feel like a bystander while I'm reading. At least the love triangle wasn't a torturous one since it was pretty clear from the start. I don't think this one is for me, but I might change my mind down the road.
    Lovely reviews, dear.

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  13. I am disappointed to keep reading reviews that mention Evertrue is a bit of a let-down. Since I already had a less than stellar reading experience with the first two books, I am not sure this bodes well for me. Oh well.
    One thing that has consistently bothered me with this series is the fact that Nikki's family has never been fully fleshed-out, and I am sad to hear that this continues to be true in the final installment. I think there was always a bit of convenience in many aspects of this book as well, so that's also disappointing to hear.
    Despite the criticisms though, I think I shall read Neverfall and Everneath. I've invested enough of my time thus far to want to see this all the way through.
    Very thoughtful, articulate reviews, Keertana!

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  14. Really thoughtful reviews, Keertana! I agree that book 2 is the strongest of the series, and Cole shines in it. Though I agree that I kept reading this series, and it held my interest, because Nikki's feelings for Jack don't waver, though she becomes entangled with both boys. It was refreshing and interesting to see the story take the path it did, instead of falling into becoming a crazy triangle. I definitely get what you're saying about the pacing and connivence issues with the final book. But because I read the first book when it came out, and the second a year ago, I didn't feel as much connection to Nikki's family and sort of forgot about that part. But I agree that it does fall off in this book. You're also right that the emotional impact of this book doesn't hold water to the previous ones. But I really liked the humor. glad you enjoyed these overall though.

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