Everfound: Neal Shusterman’s Skinjacker Trilogy a triumph

Everfound (Skinjacker Trilogy #3) ★★★★★
Neal Shusterman
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2011



***An open letter to Neal Shusterman (please pardon me while I squee my head off):

Dear Mr. Shusterman (or may I be so bold as to call you Neal?) After completing the Skinjacker Trilogy I do feel like we are old friends and maybe even knew each other in a previous life. Also, I could kiss you smack on the lips and that seems to call for a first-name familiarity.

everfoundMy first introduction to the Everlost realm charmed me to the very tips of my toes and to the very ends of each strand of my hair. The tale’s sheer originality enthralled me from beginning to end. You could say I got lost in Everlost (and loved every nail-biting, white-knuckled moment). There is sadness in this story of dead children who lose their way “into the light” and find themselves stranded in this in-between place. Their journey of discovery is filled with child-like wonder, fear, and yes, even horror. Sometimes, especially horror.

Could the sequel ever live up to its predecessor? I approached it with caution and much trepidation, but what the hell was I worried about? For you, Neal, had so much more in store for your readers yet. What joy to be swept up in an epic adventure! More delectable characters are introduced while the ones we have come to know are pushed even further to their limits. The fascinating world-building continues, the details delicious, the page-turning pace sublime. The tension of Book 2 builds to a crackling crescendo and a maddening cliff-hanger. How long would you make us wait for Book 3???!!!!

Fortunately, not that long (you could teach Mr. George R.R. Martin a thing or two about deadlines I daresay). Everfound is everything it should be and everything I hoped it would be. I don’t say that lightly (though I’m still feeling a little giddy and light-headed in the glow of having just turned the last page). You sir kept such awe-inspiring momentum going through all three books only to ramp it up OFF THE CHARTS in this final installment.

You really were saving the best for last weren’t you, you magnificent bastard? Not once did you have to repeat yourself, not once did you have to milk a great idea for extra points, you STILL had new stuff to show us, you STILL had places to take us that we’ve never been or imagined. I could not guess how it was going to end, I couldn’t even be sure you wouldn’t break my heart. “Edge of my seat” seems too trite and overused an expression, but that’s where I was Neal — on the edge of my seat.

Before I close I would like to sneak in here some of the other elements that make this trilogy so great — how it tackles the meaning of life and what makes life so precious in the first place — that it’s memory and remembrances of things past that make us who we are. Yes, you’ve given us a grand adventure Neal, but you’ve also given us a part of your heart I think. For I feel much love went into these novels, and that I am certain is what makes each of them worth loving right back.

And just in case there was any doubt left — I do love them, all of them, very very much. My sincerest thanks for introducing me to Everlost, taking me on this marvelous adventure, and getting me home safe again.

Forever yours,

Trudi (should we ever meet, you can definitely call me by my first name)

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