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The Monster Within (A Review of Neal Shusterman’s EverWild)

Everwild Description:

Everlost, the limbo land of dead children, is at war. Nick the “Chocolate Ogre” wants to help the children of Everlost reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Mary Hightower, self-proclaimed queen of lost children and dangerous fanatic, is determined to keep Everlost’s children trapped within its limbo for all eternity. Traveling in the memory of the Hindenburg, Mary is spreading her propaganda and attracting Afterlights to her cause at a frightening speed.

Meanwhile, Allie the Outcast travels home to seek out her parents, along with Mikey, who was once the terrifying monster the McGill. Allie is tempted by the seductive thrill of skinjacking the living, until she discovers the shocking truth about skinjackers.”

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed Everwild much more so than Everlost. This second installlment in the Skinjacker series was much more insightful than the first book. Shusterman continued to give great references–Challenger space shuttle, Underground Atlanta and even Graceland. But, this novel, did not have me laughing as often.

I think the best reference of all time had to be the new Afterlights to Everlost–Jackin’ Jill, Milos, Moose and Squirrel. Milos has a Russian accent. Moose and Squirrel are not that bright. Jackin’ Jill reluctantly does what Milos tells her to do. I immediately thought of Boris, Natasha, Rocky and Bullwinkle! Once I got past that, I could appreciate the characters more. Not to give anything away, but, by the end of the book you start to feel a little sorry for Milos. Don’t worry, it only lasts a short while.

In Everwild we learn more about skinjacking. Milos and Allie have a blast with it. Then, we learn the downside (think Exorcist). We also find out why only certain individuals can skinjack. It presents a new challenge and dilemma for Allie.

Shusterman added a whole new layer to some of his characters. Personally, I didn’t like Mary Hightower in the first book. She redeemed herself for a moment in Everlost. Well, now she’s back to her sweet not so lovable self. She’s now an evil mastermind. And, who could forget Nick. He’s now the Chocolate Ogre and he “lives” up to his name.

I truly enjoyed Shusterman’s take on monsters. There were three ideas that hit me after reading his tale. First, sometimes when we’re hellbent on destruction our inner monster breaks free (Nick). Second, sometimes the worst monsters are those that are hiding in plain view (Mary and Milos). And, finally, sometimes love can tame the savage beast (Mikey).

I can’t wait to read Everfound, the last book in the Skinjacker Series! If you’re a Neal Shusterman fan, you’ll enjoy this series as well.

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