Saturday, March 20, 2010

Evermore (book) by Alyson Noel

I'd been intending to read this book for a while now, but I didn't actually request it via ILL until after I saw it mentioned on Unshelved. I was really, really not impressed with it. I may read the next book, just to see if the series gets any better, but there are so many other things I could be reading (there's a glut of paranormal YA romance that I have only been able to scratch the surface of) that I might just stop at this book.


Ever was a pretty, popular girl whose life was going great, until a car accident killed her parents and younger sister and left her, the sole survivor, with the ability to see auras, hear people's thoughts, and see a person's entire life story just by touching them. Unable to control her new abilities, Ever deals with them by making friends with outcasts (a gay guy and a girl who dresses Goth but is really just desperate to be noticed and liked), constantly listening to music to block out the sound of others' thoughts, and dressing in ways least likely to attract attention. The only bright spot in her life in her sister Riley - somehow, Ever is able to see and talk to her sister's ghost.

Then Damen Auguste arrives. He's a wealthy and drop-dead gorgeous new student. Haven (Ever's Goth friend) decides that he's going to be hers and is hurt when he seems only to have eyes for Ever. Ever is insistent that she neither wants nor tries to attract Damen's attention, but there's something about him that draws her. For one thing, he seems to be able to block her powers, allowing her a few blissful moments of silence. For another...well, he's hot.

Unfortunately, in addition to being hot, Damen also sends confusing signals. First, he seems focused on Ever, attracted to her despite all the work she's put into not being attractive. Then he's cold towards her, instead paying attention to other girls. Then he's interested in her again. Then Ever sees him apparently on a date with a gorgeous girl, and there also seems to be something going on between him and another gorgeous girl named Drina.

Suddenly, Drina seems to have her claws in all kinds of areas of Ever's life. Not only is it possible that Damen keeps seeing her in secret, but Haven has also become something like her follower, dressing like her, spending lots of time with her, and doing her best to look like her.

Eventually, Ever and Damen end up as a couple (probably, since Drina still seems to be an issue), and Haven doesn't seem to react as badly as Ever feared she would. However, lots of mysteries still surround Damen, and things come to a head when Ever sees Damen apparently hurting Haven, not believing Damen's insistence that he's actually keeping her from dying. Although Damen tries to make Ever forget what she saw, Ever gets her memories back and finds out that Damen is an immortal (which is not the same thing as a vampire). In fact, he's the one who helped her survive the car crash that killed the rest of her family, allowing Ever to become an immortal like him if she chooses. Because Ever fears him now and doesn't want him to be around her, Damen leaves. Ever enters a downward spiral filled with booze, the only thing that seems able to muffle her abilites once Damen is gone.

While attempting to find her friends, Ever is instead found by Drina, who has decided that it's time to kill her. Drina is an immortal and is apparently responsible for killing Ever during several of Ever's lifetimes, in order to break the bond that seems to keep forming between her and Damen. Damen originally made Drina an immortal so that she could be his wife, but his feelings for her have waned, and Drina believes that he'd return to her if Ever were dead. Just when it looks like Drina's going to manage to kill her, Ever accepts that she's going to die and remembers her last happy moment with her family - which is the key to transporting herself to Summerland, a safe place where Drina can't find her. Damen is there, and he shows her how she can create anything she can think up in Summerland. Eventually, if she wants and if she chooses to continue down the path to becoming an immortal, she could do the same thing outside of Summerland.

Ever decides to go see Ava, a psychic she met earlier who told her she could help her learn to control her powers. Although Ever doesn't entirely like Ava, because Ava believes that Ever needs to help Riley move on rather than continue letting her stay around, Ever still learns what she needs to from her - how to create a psychic shield. She doesn't let Ava teach her how to undo the shield, however. Eventually, Ever realizes that Ava is right about Riley, and, even though it hurts, Ever convinces Riley to finally cross over.

Unfortunately, all the stuff with Drina isn't quite over yet. Ever learns that Drina was responsible for the car crash that killed her family. Despite being outmatched, Ever focuses on fighting back and manages to kill Drina by striking her in her vulnerable spot, her fourth chakra ("her lack of love is what killed her," according to Damen). With Drina dead, there is now nothing standing in the way of Ever and Damen being a happy immortal couple forever.


The snippet about this book in Unshelved says "I'd give it to...Eliza, who needs to find another fictional boyfriend besides Edward Cullen." Granted, I'm no longer a teenage girl so I could be wrong, but I think it's highly unlikely that a teenage girl with a crush on Edward Cullen is going to read this book and decide Damen is just as worthy. As much as certain aspects of Stephenie Meyer's books make me cringe, I can see Edward's appeal. He's got the whole brooding self-loathing thing going, and he only acts cold towards Bella in the beginning because he was trying to resist biting her - but he's so attracted to her that he can't help but be around her, despite the danger that he might bite her. Not everyone gets the lure of vampires in paranormal romance, but I do. Yes, Edward Cullen is appealing.

Damen Auguste, however, is not. He's good-looking and rich, but it takes more than that for a character to be an appealing romantic hero. While I was reading the book, I found Damen's hot and cold behavior towards Ever to be annoying, but I was willing to put up with it, figuring that Noel's explanation would make everything better. It didn't. Damen acted coldly towards Ever and started giving flowers to another girl because he wanted to make her jealous. He's a 600-year-old immortal playing games with a teenage girl - that's not romantic, that's lame.

The situation with Drina makes things even worse. It's not that Drina assumed there was more between her and Damen that there really was - the two of them were married, are still married (as Damen says, it'd be difficult for them to get a divorce, but this does make Drina's...confusion understandable). Damen made Drina immortal so that the two of them could be together, and then he ends up deciding he'd rather be with Ever. It didn't take much of a leap for me to think, "And what happens when he decides that he'd like to have someone else more than Ever?" Not that this occurs to Ever, although it should. If he can grow tired of one woman/girl, he can grow tired of another. I certainly don't see Ever and Damen lasting long as a couple when Damen grows bored of acting like a teenager so quickly - since he already knows everything taught at school (suspension of disbelief issue: even after 600 years of life, how can someone possibly know everything and be able to do everything?), he encourages Ever to skip class to have fun with him and gamble. He seems to have forgotten that, although he's had 600 years to learn all kinds of useful things, Ever is still just a teenage girl.

Also, I hate Damen for saving Ever after the car crash that killed her family, and yet standing by and doing nothing every time Ever gets beaten to a pulp by Drina. Ever is outraged by this, for a bit, but she forgives him far too quickly.

One thing I did really like was Ever's relationship with her sister. That felt more real to me than any of the stuff with Damen, and I could understand Ever's fear that her sister was going to leave her forever, as well as her eventual decision to let her sister go. By the time I realized what a bastard Damen was, I much preferred the scenes between Riley and Ever to the scenes between Ever and Damen. I shouldn't forget to mention Ever's "friends," either. I can't decide whether I like the scences with them more or less than the scenes with Damen. As far as I can tell, Ever's relationships with her two friends don't go very deep. Her friendship with Miles (the gay one) is pleasant enough, but she doesn't confide in him. Haven is so emotionally damaged that I'm not sure she's capable of healthy friendship - she spends a lot of the book angrily jealous of Damen's attraction to Ever, and her "friendships" with Drina and others are anything but. Ever's closest relationship is with her ghost sister.

This book kept reminding me of other much better books - one passage felt like it was taken straight out of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books ("But that's what's so great about Damen. He's like an off switch. He's the only one I can't read, the only one who can silence the sound of everyone else...[H]e makes me feel wonderful and warm and as close to normal as I'll ever get to be..." (p. 79)), another felt like something from L.J. Smith's Soulmate (Drina: "'I've been responsible for your demise for, let's see--how many lifetimes?'" (p. 236)), and the whole thing felt like an attempt to ride on the current popularity of paranormal YA romances like Stephenie Meyer's books and others. This makes it easy to come up with a list of read-alikes, but it's never good when I find myself thinking things like, "This is just like in [fill in a book title], only I liked that book better." Had Damen been less of a jerk, I might have felt differently.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (live action TV series) - Buffy used to be a popular cheerleader, until she discovered that she's the Slayer, the girl whose job it is to defeat the supernatural baddies intent on killing everything and taking over the world. She does her job with the help of her friends, her Watcher (her high school's librarian), and, eventually, a brooding vampire. Those who'd like something else in which a formerly popular girl gains supernatural powers and ends up hanging out with the social outcasts she would previously have ignored might like this. Plus, there's supernatural romance.
  • Twilight (book) by Stephenie Meyer - Bella doesn't expect her move to the small town of Forks to be at all exciting, until she meets Edward Cullen. At first, Edward seems repulsed by her, but eventually the two of them can't seem to stay away from each other. The more time Bella spends with him, however, the more odd things she notices about him, leading her to the impossible conclusion that this boy she is so drawn to is actually a vampire. Those who'd like another YA paranormal romance with a brooding supernatural hero might want to try this.
  • Dead Until Dark (book) by Charlaine Harris - This is the first book in Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is a telepathic barmaid. Most of the people in her small Southern town know about her special abilities, but most people can also forget about it a bit because Sookie makes an effort to either not read people or not show that she's read someone. It's an exhausting life, however. Before the beginning of this book, vampires revealed their existence to the world, and in this book Sookie discovers something she thinks is wonderful - it's very hard, if not impossible, for her to read the thoughts of most vampires. Soon, Sookie is dating a vampire, but, unfortunately, being around him gets her involved in more danger than she's ever experienced before. Those who'd like another book featuring a heroine who can hears others' thoughts and who falls in love with a supernatural guy might like this. Be warned, this is not a YA book.
  • Soulmate (book) by L.J. Smith - This is the 6th book in Smith's Night World series. Hannah thinks she's going crazy - she keeps finding notes she doesn't remember writing, written in her own handwriting, telling her that she's going to die before she turns 17. What she discovers is that she's an Old Soul, someone who's been reincarnated many times. In many of those times, she fell in love with a vampire (named Thierry in her most recent lifetime), one who also may possibly have had a hand in her deaths. Those who'd like another YA paranormal romance featuring a sexy, rich, immortal hero who is possibly bad for the confused heroine might want to try this.
  • Blue Bloods (book) by Melissa De La Cruz - This is the first book in a series. Schuyler is treated like an outcast by the clique of popular, athletic, and beautiful teens made up of Mimi Force, her twin brother, and her best friend. At the age of 15, Schuyler learns that she is a "blue blood," a very special vampire who is descended from a very old line. Unfortunately, lots of blue bloods have been dying, and Schuyler has to find out why before she, too, ends up dead. Those who'd like another YA book involving rich, often popular characters, supernatural stuff, and romance may want to try this.

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