Everwild

Hello, Inklings!

Some day I’ll do this regularly…  Regardless, my long sojourn gave me enough time to get and then read Everwild by Neal Shusterman.

Front Cover

The Review Part: This is the second installment of the Skinjacker Trilogy, which began with Everlost (see post “Everlost”), which depicts the afterlives of children.  Again, we see Mary the White Witch, Allie the Outcast, and Nick, now named the Chocolate Ogre, as well as Johnny-O and Speedo. Picking up shortly after the end of Everlost, we follow three different story lines as told by Mary, Nick, and Allie, respectively, each of which merge back together at the end, as one might imagine.

This new story is told with great skill and enthusiasm, with new characters, new dry humor and commentary, and many new places, including the Everwild. I highly recommend this one for it’s clever, tongue-in-cheek qualities, as well as it’s depth (to be discussed below). Appropriate for intermediate to advanced readers. I definitely recommend reading these books in order. It is easy to see how Everwild could be very confusing without Everlost.

The Analysis Part

Everwild continues to approach the concept of life after death, but it takes more of a back-seat to other themes than it did in Everlost. However, it does beautifully portray the idea of continuity, even after death, and takes a lot of the fear of death away.

Perhaps the most impressive theme is that of right and wrong, good and bad, and types of manipulative behaviors. These are powerfully interwoven throughout the novel and illustrated at a rather impressive level.

Right and Wrong/Good and Bad: Interestingly, none of the characters act out of a willful maliciousness. Shusterman (or the narrator) might suggest that this is simply because children have not developed this trait as adults have. More to the point, it presents the ways that conflict can arise and massive betrayal, violence, and even war can erupt all without true malicious intent. Similarly, Shusterman draws a line between malicious and ruthless, stepping further to question how much does the end justify the means? It also asks is ruthlessness or even apparent cruelty for the sake of “right” even acceptable? What constitutes just? Right? Wrong? Good? Evil? Cruel? Justified? It’s a massive theme beautifully debated.

Manipulations: This doesn’t move far from the ideas of good and evil. What is interesting about this in Everwild is that many of the characters use each other, or test each other. The loyalty is quite limited, with a few exceptions. This will teach the rarety of true loyalty in life. Most of the characters intend to use each other for personal gain in some way. Consequently, this pattern and layering of manipulation may color the readers’ views of who is good or bad. Similarly, it approaches the rather odd nature of love by creating a complicated layering of characters who love each other, and who love each other in different ways, how they show it, and what they expect.

Summary

This is a great second book, and thus far, I highly recommend the trilogy (only two being written, thus far, however). It brings younger readers into a higher philosophical plane in thinking, although the book is written very accessibly. The characters are likable, yet complex, and the plot moves continually forward with twists, turns, and added interests. The characters work through serious ethical problems, sometimes forced to make difficult snap judgments. It’s a great piece for ethics and philosophy, as well as an entertaining read, earning it a full Inkling approval and recommendation.

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting article, thanks. Keep up the good work.


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