Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Afterlife: An Evernight Novel by Claudia Gray

So, I am back from New Orleans with 40+ books/ARC’s (Advanced Readers Copies) in tow. Thank you ALA annual conference!
I will shortly be posting (within the next day or two) some photos, some author information, and some awesome experiences I had there. But for now, I need to write about the book I read on my way there (and back). It took two plane rides to read it, and I actually spent no time in New Orleans actually reading. I was conferencing it up with my wonderful friend and academic librarian, Jordan, who I haven’t seen since library school. I was also out experiencing the wonders of the magical city. Between the food, the drinks, the boat rides, the music, and the exploring, and the full day conference craziness, I am surprised I am even awake right now.
Considering how long my plane rides were, it took me less than four hours to read this whole book. In other words, I ate it up!
This is saying something too. Because I have not been that in love with the latest books in Gray’s Evernight series. Sometimes YA series can wind down. And I question not only whether continuing reading is worth it, but I question the author’s prerogative for continuing. Is it to make a little more money? I seriously felt that was the way this series was heading (in the direction of Noel’s The Immortal series –which I already wrote about being thankful for an end, and Kristin and P.C. Cast’s House of Night series, which does not seem to have an end in sight, or at least that I am currently aware of). But again, in comparing it to Noel’s book, I feel like this one of Gray’s brought me back like the last one of Noel’s finally giving me some closure.
The story takes place not too long after the last book leaves off. The one before sort of ended with the main character/vampire dying and actually becoming a ghost, and her love interest also dying in a battle that is in response to her death.  Bianca could not figure out her newfound ghostly powers in time to save her love, and the book ends with the question: will she let Lucas be changed into a vampire, a creature he has spent his whole life –up to Bianca– fighting to kill? Well, this book would not have been much of a book if Bianca did not let Lucas become a vampire.
What really stood out for me here was that the book was not all about the romance. It was about the characters coming to terms with themselves. It was about Lucas dealing with what he had become. It was about his rejection from his former family. It was Bianca working on telling her family about her new ghostly persona. And even though Lucas failed so badly at his mother’s acceptance, Bianca did eventually work up the nerve to tell her spirit-hating parents about her new existence. I also finally got to learn Mrs. Bethany’s backstory, the reason Bianca and her parents were ever at Evernight Academy to begin with, and all kinds of interesting ghost and vampire subplots. Between forgiving best friends, finding herself, learning to trust herself, and deciding to do the ultimate right thing –helping other spirits go where they need to go– Bianca experienced so much growth. She became a main character I could respect.
Yes, there’s the cheesy love-at-first-sight crazy/YA romance aspect to the book, but what I really liked most was that this part actually took a few steps back for all of the other stuff to happen. I’m finally getting to see Bianca take charge and become so much more than the blood hungry teen girl, always needing to be taken care of.  I am glad I have continued with this series and I have high hopes for the next installment. I give it a 8/10. And if you would like a very different perspective, please check out my friend Christina’s post about it here: http://readeroffictions.blogspot.com/2011/03/endless-love.html.