Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Evermore (The Immortals #1) by Alyson Noel

Evermore (The Immortals #1) by Alyson Noel

Evermore (The Immortals, #1)

Paperback, 1st Edition, 301 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 031253275X (ISBN13: 9780312532758)
literary awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Favorite Book & Young Adult Series (2009), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2011)

Goodreads Summary

The first book in Alyson Noel's extraordinary new Immortals series. Enter an enchanting new world, where true love never dies...

After a horrible accident claims the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone's entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact to suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school — but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste.

Damen is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head - wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is - or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.

My Review

I read this book a couple of years ago, but after noticing all of the negative reviews on Goodreads about it, I decided to write my own review of it. Another reason for this review is that I read a newer book of Noel's (or I should say tried to read), Fated, back in January and in my review of it I praised Evermore and the Immortals series over Fated. I first considered writing one review of the whole Immortals series, but decided against it because I didn't feel the same way about the entire series. 

First, I want to say that I feel that many of the negative reviews about books like this are negative because sometimes readers go into them with the wrong approach. I feel that sometimes readers read these books looking for a literary masterpiece of some sort. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of YA novels out there with great literary substance (i.e., good plot, word usage, character development, etc.). In this day and age, however, we as readers have to accept the factor that many times you are not going to get a literary masterpiece when you pick up something like this. I say view it the way you would drug store romance novels: take away the location, characters, and situations and you pretty much have the same novel written over and over again.  I agree that this is sad, but we have to face the reality of the situation. Writers write towards specific audiences, in this case teens and young adults. Teens and young adults that read and swoon over books like this do not do solely based on literary content. What they want is something light and fun and a break from the real literary works they are required to read for school that they find boring (but are likely appreciate more as they get older). You can call them dumb, lazy, or whatever you want. I personally don’t view it that way; I know some really intelligent pre-teens, teens, and young adults who genuinely love reading for the sake of read and read of a variety of books from the mind-numbing to the scholarly. So rather than going into books such as this with the anticipation of great literary substance, we should take them for what they are and anticipate something light, fun, and quick way to pass the time. If you can’t do that, then pass these books by like you would a drug store romance novel. 

Taken in this context, I enjoyed Evermore. At the time when I was reading the series, I was totally engrossed in it (until the latter books, an opinion I will save for a later review). Now looking back on it, I truly see it for what it truly was (as I did the Twilight series) and I can still say I enjoyed it. Some things were very much predictable (namely the growing attraction between Ever and Damen) and other things, at least for me, where a bit of a surprise (namely what Damen is). Even looking back on it after reading all of the YA fiction I have since, what Damen turns out to be is still somewhat of  surprised to me compared to the very predictable Angel/Demon, Vampire, Werewolf revelations of other novels. The revelation here, which I’m obviously not going to disclose, is a bit more scientific and fantastic than that, which is strange to me considering that I don’t always seem to see science and fantasy going together in such a way. Those who have read the entire series already know what I mean. If you've read only this book thus far, what I mean by this will be a lot clearer further in the series. 

In the beginning, one may think that Ever’s abilities are just the crazy delusions of a grieving girl. She lost both her parents and her sister in an accident and was uprooted to a new town to live with her aunt Sabine (her father’s twin sister lawyer who is single and has no experience raising children). These changes are hard enough for any teenager, but Ever also has to deal with her sudden ability to see auras, read others thoughts, and of seeing ghosts, particularly her sister, Riley. She also claims to have gone through a near death experience where she witnessed the aftermath of the accident outside of herself and watched her parents and sister cross a “bridge” to the afterlife, but was unfortunately unable to join them. So she goes through her new school in hoodies, listening to her Ipod and avoiding all contact with others except her friends Haven and Miles, causing the popular girls to call her a freak, tease her, and make her life even more miserable. As depressed as all of this makes Ever, she has accepted it because she lacks the strength and desire to do anything about it in her grief. 

Given all of Ever’s troubles, however, one can’t help but deem Ever a little ungrateful. Her Aunt Sabine didn't have to take her in, even though Ever thinks through family and moral obligation she had no choice but to. Even if that were so, Sabine definitely did not have to purchase a huge house and provide Ever with a convertible and a room with luxuries such as a flat screen TV, a walk-in closet, a bathroom with a Jacuzzi, a balcony, and a private den. A private den for cry sakes! How many teenagers do you know have their own private den?! I'll bet not many, if any at all. Yet, Ever can’t seem to allow herself to be grateful.

"It’s funny how before I would've given anything for a room like this.
But now I’d give anything just to go back to before."
--p. 24, epub

Instead, Ever analyzes Sabine, assuming that because she works so much that she felt she needed to make up for it with all of these material things. She also analyzes why Sabine never had children. Was it because she works so much and “can’t schedule it in”? Was it because she just hasn't found the right guy? Or was it because she just didn't have the desire to? Not very nice things to think about someone who saved you from foster homes and provided you with things most teenage girls dream of. 

If things weren't complicated enough for Ever, Damen’s arrival in town adds even more questions. He’s gorgeous and although Ever tries to avoid it, she can’t take her eyes off of him. He’s also very mysterious, whenever he speaks to her or touches her, not only does her skin tingle, but all of the buzzing conversation from the thoughts of those around her seem to disappear, allowing her to only focus on him. He also seems to runs hot and cold; one moment he is having lunch with Ever and her friends, trying to get to know her, presenting her with red tulips practically out of thin air and the next he’s flirting with Stacia Miller, Ever's arch enemy. The oddest thing of all is that he doesn't have an aura. For Ever, the only beings she’s ever encountered without an aura were dead. 

One character I had mixed feelings about was Haven. On the one hand I feel sorry for her. She comes from a home with parents who are hardly ever there and who pay little attention to her, so she is eager for any love or attention she can gain. Ever calls her a “anonymous-group addict”; she goes around attending different twelve-step meetings for alcoholics, cyber addicts, overeaters, gamblers, shopaholics, codependents, and so forth even though she has none of these problems. She has a tendency to copy the personae of whomever she is trying to gain attention from and has gone through several phases (i.e., ballerina, J-Crew, goth). It is sad to see a girl who is so starved for attention go to such lengths to get it. On the other hand, there are instances where her desperation for attention turns her into a real witch and I can no longer sympathize with her. It’s almost like she adores you as long as she can gain something from you but the second she find someone better you’re beneath her. For example, as it becomes clear that Damen has eyes for Ever and vice versa, Haven treats Ever like she’s the worst friend and betrayer ever since she knew Haven was interested and claimed she wasn't interested. At the same time, Haven also plays it off like she doesn't care. Although they are friends, Haven is very much jealous of Ever’s blonde hair and good looks (although it’s hard to tell through Ever’s hoodies, baggy jeans, and lack of make-up). Deep down she knows it’s only natural for a girl with Ever’s looks to bag the hottest guy in the school, but she hopes that Ever’s antisocial behavior will give her more of a chance. Also, when she makes friends with Evangeline and Drina and their vampire crowd, Haven is all of sudden too cool for Miles and Ever. When Haven needs help, however, who does she instantly turn to and expect immediate sympathy…Ever and Miles. 

As I mentioned previously, when I first read this series I was very much into it, mainly because I’m a sucker for the romantic aspect. I still liked this book and most of the series looking back on it, but I can’t entirely say that I’m in love with it. I've read better (i.e., Fallen) but I've also read worse (i.e., Fated).

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