The series consists of three novels: Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound, which were published from 2006-2011. They are focused around a group of teenagers who are in a limbo phase between life and death. The target audience would be middle grade or YA.
Neal Shusterman has a unique and compelling writing style. I don't know that I've ever read anyone that I would compare him to. Even his content and characters are all his own. When he writes dystopia you know that you're going to get something different than most other dystopias. That is true here. This is a far different experience to most other paranormal novels I've read, particularly for this target audience.
The characters in this series are compelling, intelligent, funny, and just plain interesting. Nick and Allie are the two main characters in the beginning; teens who find there way to the land of Everlost when their cars collide and they are thrown from the vehicles. On their way into the light that beckons them toward death, Nick and Allie collide and are derailed into Everlost. They soon find other lost children and entire kingdom of souls governed by Mary Hightower.
The first novel follows Nick and Allie as they deal with their deaths, both together and apart. Each of them has strengths and weaknesses and each of them wants to go home. But in Everlost going home is dangerous. While standing in the living world Everlights begin to sink, spiraling down toward the center of the earth, and going home speeds up the process. When Nick and Allie meet Mary, things start to look up. But when they discover that Mary is not quite what she seems they must choose a side. Reading about their adventures as they come to terms with their positions in Everlost and determine what path they should take is fascinating and fun.
The first novel is really a great set up for the rest of the series. Nick and Mary fall in love, but are on two different paths as far as beliefs and ethics go. The two are forced to become enemies: Nick working to free the lost souls and send them on their way; Mary trying to trap them in a state of constant repetition. Allie meets Mikey McGill, a boy with the ability to transform into any number of monstrous creatures. The two begin a partnership that carries them all over the land of Everlost.
Of all the characters, Nick is by far my favorite. Throughout the first novel he grows and develops in such a beautiful way. He starts as any other fourteen year old boy might, but soon determines that he has a bigger purpose in Everlost. His development continues in book two when he has become the Chocolate Ogre and works to raise an army to defeat Mary and her band of everlights.
While Nick is my favorite, I do enjoy all of the characters. Allie can be annoying, but is a good person. Mary is very bad and so creepy. Mikey is misunderstood and lacks confidence. Jix, a character we don't meet until book three, is opportunistic and real. Milos, introduced in book two, is a skinjacker-someone who can control the bodies of the living-like Allie, but has a twisted sense of right and wrong. He's very insecure and falls in love easily. Jackin' Jill is twisted, but ultimately just a lost girl. Together the cast of characters makes for a fascinating collection that play really well off of each other.
The world that Shusterman created in this series was fascinating and just honestly blew me away. Everything was described and explained so beautifully that I felt like I was there in Everlost with everyone else. One of the things I found most interesting was that not only did children have the potential to cross into Everlost, but also objects and places that no longer exist in the real world but that had been loved while they did. The Twin Towers in New York make an appearance, the Titanic, churches, planes, trains. So many different locations and objects. Each of these plays a key part in the series somehow.
My main drawback with this series is honestly that every single main character has to find some kind of a soul mate and fall in love. I'm not opposed to love, but I found this to be a bit too much. Particularly since they are all 14-17 years old. It just took things a bit too far for my liking in that regard. Still, the books were fun, creepy, fascinating, and just plain intriguing.
I gave every book in the series 4/5 stars. An excellent series and I highly recommend it to those who either enjoy Shusterman's writing or enjoy paranormal novels. You won't regret reading this series.