Note: This review contains spoilers for Book One of this series, Everbound, but none for this sequel.
This is the second book in the series that is a modified retelling of the Persephone and Orpheus myths. This time the author throws in yet more myths and classics: Sisyphus, the Minotaur, Dante, Scheherazade, and no doubt others I missed. Our heroine, Nikki Beckett, carries around a D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths as her vademecum so this enables her to explain many myth references to the other characters and we, the readers, when they arise.
In Book One (see my review of Everneath, here), Nikki, caught at a low moment when she thinks her boyfriend Jack has cheated on her, allows a cute guitar player, Cole Stockton, to convince her to try his method of choice for escaping pain. No, it’s not drugs! Rather, Cole is an “Everliving,”a being who attains eternal life by feeding off of humans’ emotions. He takes Nikki to the Underworld to feed on hers, thus ridding her of bad feelings (but good ones as well) for a hundred years.
At the end of one hundred years in Underworld time (six months back on “the Surface”), most humans grow old and die. But Nikki survived fairly intact. The reason she did is that she was “tethered” to the upper world by the love of Jack. Cole, however, is convinced that Nikki survived so that she could be his queen in the Underworld.
Nevertheless, and in spite of Nikki’s professed love for Jack, Cole agreed to let Nikki return to the surface for six months- because, after all, we are mirroring the Persephone myth here. When the six months are over, she was told that scary shade-like things would come and pull her back down to the Everneath. But at the end of Book One, just when these shades were coming for Nikki, Jack leapt into her place and went instead.
Now, in Everbound, it’s two months later. And now it is Nikki’s turn to tether Jack. But she knows time is running out, because his image is weakening. She is convinced that her only chance to rescue him is to get back, somehow, to the Everneath. And all roads lead to Cole…..
Discussion: Once again, the character of Nikki is obsessive, self-centered, and impulsive. She is mean to Cole, blaming him for her own choices (even though she occasionally gives lip service to recognizing her own responsibility). And most unfortunately, Nikki is in many ways Too Dumb to Live. For example, in spite of her obsessive studies of mythology, when she sees her little brother working on mazes for school, she thinks to herself:
Where had I read about a maze before? Or a labyrinth?”
C’mon! Similarly, she consistently conflates the ability to love with the physical presence of a heart. Yeah, I know we need to take a leap of faith when we read paranormals, but this just seems beyond reasonable.
And finally, in spite of having spent a hundred years in what is basically Hell, she is still clueless about its risks.
As for Jack and Cole, I have the same criticisms I had in Book One. Jack is too perfect to be convincing, and Cole is by far more interesting and attractive. But in this book, the character of Cole does something at the end that just didn’t make sense to me in view of his behavior throughout the rest of the book. Even Nikki says “It didn’t make sense. None of it made any sense.” Nope, not to me either, Nikki. Not because it was a surprise, but because it wasn’t consistent. However, this was nothing compared to Nikki’s decision on the last page. Totally ridiculous thinking by Nikki. Then again, that’s Nikki…..
Evaluation: Despite it’s flaws, I do like the premise, and I like Cole. I will probably stick around for the third volume in this trilogy.
Published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2013