I was pulled under by this bittersweet, beautiful retelling of the Persephone myth. Ashton’s lovely storytelling and strong-on-her-own-terms main character set this one apart. Wonderful!
Enthralling and suspenseful, EVERNEATH is pure indulgent escapism!
Seventeen-year-old Nikki Beckett has just returned from the mythical underworld known as the Everneath, where her six-month stay felt (to her) like a century. Now her father, the town’s mayor, doesn’t trust her; her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Jack, is in flux; and everyone else thinks she’s a recovering drug addict. She has six months of real life left before she must make a choice: be eternally condemned to the Tunnels, where her life will be drained away, or become one of the immortal Everliving, feeding off of “Forfeits” like herself, who have succumbed to despair (Nikki’s pain is the result of her mother’s death in a car crash). With her former captor, Cole, pressuring her to choose the latter option, Nikki discovers the awful truths about the Everneath. Jumping frequently between Nikki’s time before and after her capture, this dark romance, Ashton’s debut, is complex and intriguing. Drawing inspiration from such myths as Osiris, Orpheus, and Persephone, it explores the nature of loss and longing and what it means to be alive. Ages 14–up. Agent: Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Jan.)
The author brings a fresh, innovative concept to young adult fiction with well-developed characters and a fantastic plot line .... Libraries are advised to buy multiple copies-this one will fly off the shelves.”
%COMM_CONTRIB%Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (starred review)
Gr 7 Up—Seventeen-year-old Nikki Beckett agreed to go to Everneath, the underworld, because she was looking for relief from the pain of her mother's death and her boyfriend Jack's betrayal. She volunteered to forfeit her emotions to the immortal Cole; in doing so she never has to feel again and he gains another 100 years of life. However, after Cole discovers that Nikki is not like other Forfeits, humans who give up their lives, because she has her memories intact and wants to return to Earth, he believes she could be a queen of the Everneath High Court. Nikki chooses to return to her former life, where she has only six months to say good-bye and salvage her relationships with her family, friends, and Jack, before she will disappear again-this time for good. She knows that if she becomes an immortal and queen of Everneath, she will have to feed off the emotions of others just like Cole did to her. However, if she doesn't follow his plan, she will spend eternity trapped in the Tunnels. Her strange pull toward Cole and her lingering feelings for Jack complicate her decision. Each chapter begins with a notation on when it takes place and shifts from past to present, giving the story tension. The first-person narration is occasionally choppy, but the powerful emotions, moving and painful rebuilding of strained relationships, and star-crossed love story is sure to resonate with teen readers.—Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA
Ashton's debut is a melancholy, modern retelling of Greek underworld myths. Nikki Beckett regains lucidity after a 100-year Feed in the Everneath. Cole, the immortal Everliving who brought her there willingly to feed on her emotions and life, is delighted that she has emerged from the Feed intact and offers her the chance to become an Everliving herself. Instead, Nikki chooses to go back and deliver the goodbyes she neglected when she initially fled the living world, though she cannot tell her loved ones where she has spent the past few months, which seriously hampers the repairing of relationships. Additionally, she has only six months before the Tunnels, the darkest part of the Everneath, claim her as a battery until the underworld drains her out of existence. As readers see her trying to find how to say goodbye, flashbacks reveal why she was in enough emotional pain to agree to go with Cole in the first place. While Cole persistently chases her, wanting her to return as his queen, she resists; choosing Cole means dooming another to her fate. A slightly overextended romantic subplot involving Jack, the boyfriend she left behind, resolves in time for a desperate Hail Mary pass. The intense prose is slow-motion grieving mixed with mythology, awakening hope and redemption--a mix ideal for angst connoisseurs. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)