Everneath by Brodi Ashton

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What’s YA without smoke on the cover these days?

First, the horribly truncated summary: Girl takes a sabbatical away from her energy-draining position in the Everneath (Hell) to see the family and friends she left behind. Said family/friends believe she’s on drugs.

If my teenager left for six months and returned skinny and expressionless without explanation, I’d reach the same conclusion. Kudos to the author for believability.

It has been a long time since I finished a book in two days. Even a Young Adult book usually takes somewhere around five due to shit-that-needs-to-be-done-now. These weren’t even two normal days. These days were right before Renfaire, so I did have plenty to do. As punishment for my enthusiastic reading, I arrive at Renfaire for setup after lights out (who turns out the lights at 10 pm?!), forget my sleeping bag, and spent the night shivering with a single blanket on an air mattress.

I suffered for this book. Kinda. Sorta.

At its heart, this book is an adaptation of two stories: Persephone/Hades and Orpheus/Euridice. Both myths are mentioned a few times as stories handed down through the generations and diluted over time. The Everneath isn’t a place for the dead, but a place for the Everliving and their Forfeits. An Everliving brings a human Forfeit to the Everneath, feeds on their energy for a century, and then abandons the Forfeit to the general scrap pile to have any remaining energy drained.

That’s what’s happened to Nikki. When we start the book, she has been a Forfeit to Cole for the past hundred years. Instead of being fully spent by the feeding, she endures it and is able to become an Everliving alongside Cole. She haphazardly decides against this and returns to the surface world to reestablish the memories she lost and to say goodbye before choosing the scrap pile for the rest of eternity.

We proceed through the rest of Nikki’s six months at the same time as we’re seeing what led to her abandoning the surface world in the first place. As well as saying goodbye, Nikki spends her remaining time trying to find a way to escape her impending doom by solving the mystery behind the Everneath.

Oh, and Cole keeps returning to the surface to convince her to take the Everliving route while she tries to reestablish her relationship with Jack, the boyfriend she left behind. What’s YA without a love triangle these days?

As I said, this book sucked me in. The writing was quick and concise, the characters were undeniably human (I wasn’t kidding about the friends believing Nikki was a addict), there were a couple plot twists that surprised me (even if the ending didn’t), and, ultimately, I will be reading the sequel.

Cause what’s YA without a series these days?

4 stars. The ending was a tad predictable, but otherwise it was awesome.

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The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

First, the horribly truncated summary: Orphan Annie wins a trip to private school during World War I and finds out what she really is.

Yes, I said “what,” not “who.”

Disclaimer: I received this book from Goodreads First Reads!

Our orphan, Eleanore Jones, hears voices and music. She has heard these for as long as she can remember. While in the orphanage, the voice within commands her to jump from the window, which she does. Everyone thinks she’s crazy and they ship her off to the madhouse until she’s deemed better. The voice stops and she learns to ignore the music enough to be sent back, but she’s deemed “tainted” by the orphanage upon her return.

Fast forward to WWI! Zeppelins are dropping bombs onto London. One manages to hit her orphanage and the orphans need to be sent elsewhere. In the midst of this, Eleanore (nickname Lora) is selected as a charity case by the Duke of Idylling to attend his school. Lora doesn’t fit in with the wealthy students of her school, but she does make an impression on two young men: Armand, the duke’s son, and Jesse, the youthful groundskeeper who knows why she hears voices and songs that come from jewels and other metallic objects.

Love triangle? Yes.

However, the triangle doesn’t last long enough for me to really hate it. It’s more about Lora’s journey to find out why she can hear songs that no one else can hear and why she can turn ethereal while standing on ledges. All this happens in the midst of female boarding school revenge stories and air raids. It’s a young adult book, true, but I really enjoyed it.

4 stars.

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

First, the horribly truncated summary: Sleuth Barbie goes to Dublin to solve her sister’s murder and ends up pantiless with a spear.

That’s just how Dublin rolls.

I’m not certain I can summon up the vitriol required for explaining the narrative voice of this book. Never before have I read such shallow first-person text given to me straight. I thought the protagonist was joking, trolling me from some future vantage point five books down the road. She started so reasonably in the prologue. Alas, I was misled, forcing myself through the drivel of a frivolous college-age woman who sounded more like a teenager from the 1990s.

But don’t take my word for it. Feast your eyes upon this sample: “Later that night I stopped in an Internet café and downloaded new tunes for my iPod. iTunes loves my Visa. I should be more frugal, but my weaknesses are books and music and I figure there are worse ones to have. I’d been hankering for the Green Day Greatest Hits CD (the song that goes “sometimes I give myself the creeps, sometimes my mind plays tricks on me” had been majorly on my mind lately) and got it for the bargain price of $9.99, which was less than I would have paid in the store. Now you know how I justify my addictions—if I can pay less for it than I would at Wal-Mart, I get to have it.”

She’s investigating her sister’s murder. She just finished questioning her sister’s classmates. I don’t care about the protagonist’s playlist at this time. I also really hate when authors borrow from songs.

And wouldn’t you be buying it in Euros if you’re in Ireland?

*hits “search” on the kindle, types in “Euros”, gets nothing. Tries again with “Euro,” still gets nothing.* Sleuth Barbie pays for everything with a credit card or other people’s money.

I apologize for that tangent. It still stands that you’re listening to that same voice, without change, for the entire book. She mentions nail polish and lipstick more times than the currency required to buy them. Sleuth Barbie (her name is Mac/Mackayla) cries because she has to cut her blonde hair and dye it in order to keep herself from being a target. She’s not crying due to being a target, but because she really likes her hair.

Oh, and in one scene, she believes a pair of Clark Kent glasses and a dingy shirt are enough to keep people from noticing her. She ends the disguise description with “I might never manage ugly, but at least I bordered on invisible.”

I think I need Shallow Hal to give me a visual on her inner beauty.

Now, I will admit that the world she’s placed into in Ireland is very creative. As she digs into her sister’s death, she finds an Ireland steeped in myth and magic that would have made for awesome fun. Fae creatures are all around her, both good and evil, and the evil ones are connected, somehow, to her sister’s death. You also have two main males with our protagonist, one being a rich man who lives behind a bookstore. (How is he rich? We don’t know. Even Christian Grey had a company and wealthy parents.)

The other is a fae prince who constantly inspires our protagonist to want sex. Not “oh let me go home and take care of this” urge, but the urge to rip off her clothes in the middle of the street and have sex with this fae until she dies from orgasm (hence the no-panties comment at the beginning). I guess these are meant to be intriguing scenes, but I just couldn’t stop laughing.

As for the poor deceased sister, we have to pick up another book to get closure.

I’ll get right on that. Right after I read The Winds of Winter. Or, in Blizzardspeak, “soon.”

2.5 stars.