I don’t know if this is a coincidence, or it is actually a thing, but I’ve been seeing Neal Shusterman’s name and his books popping up on lots of spots around the Internet. Which wouldn’t be a coincidence at all, except for the fact that I just heard about him in the past few months. Most of the buzz seems to be about his 2007 book UNWIND, which I haven’t read, but hope to soon. I’m here today to tell you, that his Skinjacker series, starting with the first novel EVERLOST, is also something that should be on your radar.
EVERLOST takes readers into a world in between life and death, but it isn’t your typical ghost story. In fact, it isn’t a ghost story at all. The first book follows Nick and Allie, two teenagers who (as the tag line says) don’t survive the car accident … but whose souls don’t get where they’re supposed to go either. They are caught in Everlost, a shadowy landscape where they can see what’s going on in the living world, but can only inhabit the memory of places, like the Hindenburg, that no longer exist.
Everlost is full of other in between children, referred to as “afterlights” and dangers that Nick and Allie never could have imagined. Afterlights who stand in the same place too long since to the center of the Earth. A monster named McGill is out to collect souls to hang upside down from his ship. Some souls are tempted into the criminal vocations of haunting. What’s even more frightening, if they aren’t careful afterlights risk forgetting who they are and falling into monotonous routines.
When they find Mary, the queen of lost kids, Nick feels like he’s found his salvation, but Allie is more skeptical. As the series continues, the struggles between these characters heighten so do the stakes.
You might have noticed that most of my description has centered on the world building. This is definitely not a coincidence. The detail with which Shusterman has imagined this world is both unbelievable and hilarious. I don’t want to spoil anything, but for people who’ve read the books: fortune cookies, pickle barrels, and the Twin Towers. Did that pique your interest?
At first, I kept reading to find out more about the world. As I continued through the trilogy, I came to genuinely care about the character. I thought it was particularly impressive that each book introduces new characters and increases the number of POV’s, but it doesn’t feel forced.
Fans of fantasy and science fiction who are looking for something completely new and not cookie cutter should definitely consider starting this series. For people who’ve read the UNWIND series, I think this is considerably lighter, but I still suggest checking it out.