Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Review of Evermore

Evermore by Alyson Noel
Published: 2009
Pages: 320
Genre: Young adult/fantasy

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This novel has been on my “to read” list for a while now and I must confess that I neglected it for a few months mostly because of the comparisons it made to Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.  I was tired of reading mediocre vampire fiction, like the Vampire Diaries and the Blue Bloods series...the list goes on and on.  Yes, the cover art of Evermore is very similar to Meyer’s--exchanging Noel’s red tulips for Meyer’s symbolic apple and you essentially have yourself the same book jacket.  Yes, there are similarities between some of the plot lines and even the sequels possess similar names. (Noel’s second book is Blue Moon whereas Meyer’s is New Moon....hmm? Uncanny!) I know what you’re thinking. You think that I’ll admit that this is yet another Stephanie Meyer or Charlaine Harris (author of Dead Until Dark) copy cat, but I’m surprisingly not going to.  Even though there are undeniable similarities, I think that Alyson Noel is on to something new....something untouched.  In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the next big series especially since Meyer finished her series in 2008.  With talk of a possible movie or television deal in the works and the fact that Noel’s publishers have her writing more books in the series as well as a spin-off series, all support my claim. I know many would agree with me.  In the middle school literary world, the buzz is just beginning.  Move over Meyer, Noel is vying for the ever popular back seat of the school bus.

    This is book one in the new series, The Immortals, and I think it will be keeping many young adult fantasy readers up until the wee hours of the morning. This was evident today in my classroom when I discussed the novel; the middle school students couldn’t get their hands on this book quickly enough.  Quick synopsis- The main character, Ever Bloom, survived a car crash that tragically killed her parents, her sister, and their dog. It was truly heartbreaking for Ever (how cool is that name?) and the reader alike. Ever’s only remaining relative is her aunt who lives in southern California, which is a lot different than where she grew up in Oregon.  (On a side note, Noel knows first hand what So Cal life is like; she has lived in Laguna Beach for many years.)  Our heroine, Ever, moves to this California idyllic town with her rich aunt, but she is plagued by guilt regarding the accident. On top of that, she can now see people’s auras, read their minds, and is psychic, which is something she obtained from her near death experience.  Ever isn’t handling her new found “skills” well and at school she literally tries to tune out all of her distractions with the help of a trusty hoodie and iPod, until she meets the new guy, Damen.  I’m sure you are thinking, enter stage right-  Edward’s doppelganger; however, Damen is very different from Twilight’s hunky vampire.  Thank you, Alyson Noel. Because honestly, I feel at this point, vampires are pretty much played out.  

    I think readers will also enjoy Noel’s portrayal of Ever’s sister, Riley, one of my absolute favorite characters. I don’t want to say too much, but she is a truly evocative character.  It’s also worth noting that Noel ventures into uncharted territories by exploring various disputed issues, such as ghosts, purgatory, chakras, reincarnation, and alchemy.  Lastly, I give kudos to Noel for creating a mentally and physically strong female character in Ever.  Unlike Bella Swan, Meyer’s protagonist, Ever doesn’t need constant “saving” or approval from her male counterpart.  She faces the bullies, mean girls, and terrifying fictional characters head on.  But make no mistake! Even though Ever is a tenacious female, Noel still makes her emotionally vulnerable, which is expected since she is dealing with the realities of a devastating accident.  Noel wrote this novel after she suffered the loss of a few people close to her and the reader can see how that definitely influenced the book’s themes.  In fact, as I was reading, parts of the story reminded me of Lucky Bones, which if you read it, you know that it also explores the idea of life after death.  All in all, Noel made me think. After losing someone we love, do they ever really leave us?

    In my opinion, this is a book that cannot be missed if you are a fan of young adult fantasies or the Twilight series.  I found it to be elegiac, addictive and extremely thought provoking even if it is young adult literature. And I say that last part with a smile on my face.  Alyson Noel’s sequel, Blue Moon, is also captivating and doesn’t disappoint. I highly recommend that novel as well. Furthermore, I look forward to November 17th, which is when the third book in the series, Shadowland, will be published.  Even though Meyer and Noel’s books are indisputably similar, I ultimately think Noel’s message is much more ardent.  True, it is a fantasy novel, but Noel touches upon various important life lessons, such as the power of friendship, the disappointment of betrayal, the notion of eternal love, and the ruination of a life-altering loss.  More importantly, this novel includes NO vampires  I mean, seriously.....Edward who??

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