Review: Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Everbound
Brodi Ashton

Balzer + Bray
Released January 22, 2013
358 pages
YA / Fantasy / Mythic Retellings

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Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

I was genuinely surprised at how engaging I found Everneath and how much more it was than just another retelling of the Persephone myth. With the cliffhanger that finished out that first volume, I also found myself expecting this to be a straightforward plot of search and rescue. Brodi Ashton once again took me surprise and wrote an intriguing and adventurous second volume to her immortals versus the humans who hate them series.

SPOILERS FOR EVERNEATH AHEAD

Everbound opens up a few months after not-quite-perfect boyfriend Jack sacrifices himself for Nikki, getting sucked up by the evil smoke monster that was meant to reclaim her and send her to the tunnels of the Everneath where she would slowly have the life sucked out of her. Of course Nikki is feeling guilty and using everything she knows about the immortals and the portals between worlds to save her boyfriend, but she’s not getting very far very fast now that tricksy immortal rock star Cole has left town.

Until Cole comes back and, after proving that she was going to attempt to save Jack whether it was absolute suicide or not, decides to take her to his underworld home. Because Cole never does things from the goodness of his heart, the sneaking motivation that really drives him diving into danger for the sake of the boyfriend of the girl he supposedly loves hangs over everyone’s heads until the devastating revelation at the end. Cole spends the book spinning back and forth between being a giant asshat and oddly helpful, but Nikki is blinded by her mission.

A subplot about a long since dead former mortal survivor of the Everneath is weaved through the main plot of Nikki winding her way through the labyrinth of hell. This allows for more revelations about Cole’s past and increased world building for this version of a hellish afterlife. At times the side plot feels a little clunky and wedged in for the sake of exposition and world expansion, but it has a satisfying conclusion.

Where as Everneath was told in a mix of current time and flashbacks to before Nikki made the stupid decision to go with Cole to hell, Everbound is mostly told through current time with the conceit that in order for Nikki to find Jack in the tunnels of hell, she must remember vivid emotionally moments from their past. Along with her meetings with verging on amnesiac Jack in her nightly dreams, this adds more strength to idea that this is a relationship that would cause someone to literally go into hell to rescue their partner.

Everbound did feel like it was missing a little bit of the magic of the first book. Perhaps it was the lack of Jack to tie down the love triangle or that Cole was being far less snarky and far more gooey eyed puppy dog. The labyrinth and the obstacles that Nikki has to go through during her journey were fun, though not entirely unique. I didn’t have to compulsively read this one as I did the previous one, but it was still a worthwhile read. The final book in the series, Evertrue, appeared in my mailbox yesterday, so I’m eager to see how Ashton finishes out the series.