The Dragon Whistler

The Dragon Whistler
Now available in paperback.


Everlost by Neal Shusterman

Sometimes I start a book and a couple of chapters in I'm struggling with the pacing or the voice or whatever and I'm JUST ABOUT to call it quits when something happens that makes me say, well okay, one more chapter... and next thing I know, I'm jonesing to get back to the darn thing.

Such was the case with Everlost by Neal Shusteman. This first book in his Skinjacker Trilogy introduces a plane of existence between life and death and the children's souls who are caught there. Each of the Afterlights, as they are called, somehow made a detour off the highway toward the bright light.

Nick and Allie are unfortunate travel mates after an accident between their two cars. Tripping over each other on the way to "get where they were going", they find themselves in Everlost. Slowly (a little too slowly for my tastes, see above) Everlost reveals her secrets, and Nick and Allie are caught up in an ages-long battle between a self-proclaimed caretaker and The McGill, a boogey-man like monstrocity who collects Afterlights like baseball cards.

The concept is cool, and will get kids thinking some pretty heavy thoughts about what comes next. The idea that when someone dies, or when there is an emotional tragedy, it leaves an memory of itself in Everlost, is intriguing. Shusterman does a nice job of bringing well-loved landmarks back to life, to the point that they almost become characters themselves. I particularly got a chuckle out of the inclusion of a famous haunted house on Long Island.

These same landmarks, however, may not have the emotional connection to a younger audience as they did for me. Hopefully some Google investigations about them will result.

Once the story hits its stride it chugs along quite nicely, with twist after turn carrying the reader down whitewater rapids of adventure. I wouldn't call it a huge cliffhanger, but Shusterman leaves enough undone to hook you for the next book, Everwild. A fun read for 12 and up.

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