Everfound - Neal Shusterman I can't do this book justice. I can't. I've been putting off this review for two days and thinking about this book non-stop and I still don't know what the heck I'm supposed to say! I haven't felt this emotional and mind-blown by a book since I read Monsters of Men, which is the third/final book in the incredible Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. Chaos Walking has been my absolute favorite series for a while now, but after reading Everfound, the Skinjackers trilogy might just be competing for that title. And that's a bit surprising, since when I read the first book I found it weird and at first didn't like it much––and even though I was hooked by the end and liked the book over all, I didn't have tremendous expectations for the sequels. But then I read his book Unwind (not part of this series) and was completely blown away. After that, I knew Shusterman was capable of some pretty effing amazing stuff. And even though the second book, Everwild, was fantastic, I wasn't sure Shusterman could ever write anything that would impress me as much as Unwind did.But I think he finally accomplished it with Everfound.(Although I gotta say, I adored his book Bruiser, but not as much as Unwind or the Skinjacker trilogy.)Everfound. Everfound. Everfound. Where do I begin? This book is just plain astounding. It was so good, I actually tried to eat it. And that's something new, even coming from me. I mean, I do weird things to books I love. I yell at them, I hug them, I throw them against the wall, I "SQUEE!" at them ... but not once have I ever tried to eat a book. When I finished Everfound, all I could do was hold it in front of me and stare at it weirdly like, "Wait ... This book. It can't be real. It's too good to be real." And then this strange urge came over me and I actually decided to bite it, because I didn't know what else to do. It was just like, "GET IN MAH BELLY, YOU WONDERFUL BOOK YOU! I WANT YOU TO BE A PART OF ME!" But I couldn't actually eat it, sadly. Also it was a library book, so I would have gotten in trouble for that. Anyway, as you can see, I am just stalling really. I haven't even said anything about the book yet. I'm still not sure where to begin. This is too hard. I'm going to end up crying.Well, if you haven't read the first two books, there not much of a point reading this review ... (OH MY GOD, I JUST GOT MY IPOD TOUCH IN THE MAIL. I HAVE BEEN WAITING ALL WEEK. Sorry, random. I'm just excited so I thought I'd include that in there. Uh, I'll get back to this review in a second.) So, where was I? Oh yeah. EVERFOUND.As I was saying, if you have't read the first two books, there's not much of a point in reading this review. (Besides to hear me yelling at you, "GO READ EVERLOST AND EVERWILD, DAMMIT!") So, go off and read them. Even if you've read the first two (and not this one) you might not be so interested, since the rest of this review will probably be me talking about how awesome each character and event in this book is. And it will involve a lot of spoilers. Just know that, if you've read the first two books, you won't be disappointed by the third. I thought it couldn't get any more amazing––but oh, it does. It does.Let's start with the easiest part, and that's praising Mr. Shusterman himself. Neal Shusterman. NEAL SHUSTERMAN. I LOVE YOU. I WISH YOU COULD KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU. WHERE ARE YOU? I NEED TO TELL YOU THAT I LOVE YOU! I don't care how stalkerish I sound. I really mean it. I must meet Neal Shusterman someday and tell him how much I love him.He is just one freaking fantastic author. I haven't been able to write for the past few days because this book made me feel like my own work is a pile of barf. This is the kind of amazing I aspire to be someday.One of the first rules of writing is "Show, don't tell"––which is a lot easier said than done. It's very hard to show things without spelling them outright. Shusterman, however, is a genius at this. The best example I can pull right out of my mind is when one of the Skinjackers skinjacks a pregnant woman and then tells another Skinjacker, "I wanted to know what it felt like when the baby kicks." And Shusterman doesn't say anything more than that. He doesn't have to say, "This is sad, because since she died when she was a kid, she'll never have a child. How tragic." Seriously, that one simple sentence was like a punch in the stomach. It almost made me cry, because it made me realize just how sad it is that the Afterlights have missed out on so many good things in life. And they're all so young and innocent that they might not even realize it. It's just so, so sad. What also impresses me about Shusterman's writing is his close attention to detail. It's almost ridiculous. I read a lot of books that have interesting premises, but the ideas aren't totally fleshed out, or there are a lot of questions that are never answered. Most authors don't seem to have the patience to fill in all the details. But Neal Shusterman does. He freaking does. There is so much detail in his ideas, one could almost believe they were true––and that places like Everlost actually exist. Like, he thinks up details that even I as a reader would never think of. With most books I'm like, "But what about this? Or what if this happened? And why is this never explained?" But with these books, I was always like, "Whoa ... I never even thought of that. But it makes total sense." Gah, I can't even explain it. But if you've read it, you (probably) know what I mean. It's awesome.Now, the characters. Oh my gosh, THE CHARACTERS! There are so many of them, and I love them all. I don't even know where to begin. Usually in a book with so many people and so many perspectives in it, there's always at least one character who I don't like or don't relate to––or otherwise don't really care about at all. I can't think of a single character in the Skinjacker trilogy like that. I can't even count how many characters there are––and there are a lot––but they all have a place in the story and I love them all.Well, we'll start with the more obvious characters.First of all, I love Allie. She's so determined and brave, but at the same time she is such a relatable teenage girl. I mean, there are so many recent YA books where the "average teenage girl" is portrayed as being a whiney, needy, selfish person whose only desire is to get a boyfriend. Allie, on the other hand, does not only think about herself. In fact, she does the opposite. She does what she needs to do in order to protect all the other Afterlights. She's not completely self-sacrificing, but she puts herself at risk when she needs to––not to be the hero, but because she knows it's right. She just has this simple sense of right and wrong that makes her realistic and lovable.And of course, her relationship with Mikey is amazing. Mikey has changed a lot since the first book––in which he was the terribly frightening creature, the McGill, until Allie brought out his good side Beauty & the Beast style. In Everfound he is still very devoted to her––but you know, not in a creepy, overprotective way. But one thing I love about them is that, even though they're a couple, they still have their arguments––which is much more realistic than the typical, swoony YA romance. And when they argue they're so dang cute. I loved this one scene where Mikey was upset with Allie and he just ran off into the distance and (literally) exploded a few times. And she and Nick just watch him and Allie's like, "Aww, I hate when he explodes." Ha! So adorable.Speaking of Nick, he is also awesome, and he has also developed quite well. In the first book he was like a little puppy dog, all lost and confused, and dedicated to Mary (just like everyone else). And then he became the Chocolate Ogre and basically forgot everything, then throughout the third book we watch him become human again as he realizes what's important to him, little by little, and as he comes to terms with who he is and what he must do––especially when it comes to facing Mary.Ohhh, Mary. Mary, Mary, quite contrary. OH GOD. Where do I begin with her? She has got to be one of the best villains ever––although it feels weird to call her a "villain" even, because it's such a one-sided term. She is such a complex and fascinating character. It's astounding how Shusterman can create a character who is full of such evil intentions, yet so human and easy to understand. In the beginning, all she wanted was to guide the other Afterlights, never knowing that her personality would draw all of them to her––and that suddenly, she'd basically have this entire empire beneath her. And with all that power, it was only a matter of time before it started going to her head and making her want more. She does some truly despicable things, especially in Everfound, in which she takes innocent lives and makes other Afterlights sacrifice themselves for her––just because she knows she can make anyone do anything for her, and because she knows she has the power to gain more and more followers. For most of the book my teeth were practically grinding together, I hated her so much. But at the same time, I couldn't hate her too much, because she's Mikey's sister and Nick is still sort of in love with her. So, AGH! Shusterman was able to keep the reader from despising her completely, because it's obvious she initially had good intentions and could be a good person. She has incredible leadership abilities; unfortunately, she doesn't know how to use them the right way. But it's not as easy as, "HEY EVERYONE! LET'S GO KILL MARY!" because a) everyone is so brainwashed into liking her, and b) Mikey and Nick are so conflicted about defeating her, since both of them could potentially help her become a good person again. This makes the tension throughout the third book absolutely riveting. I had no idea how on earth Shusterman was going to end it, and how/if Mary was going to be defeated. Let's just say, the ending was something I didn't see coming––although I probably should have. But it was perfect.Milos is another very complicated character. I liked him in the beginning of Everwild ... and then started hating him, and throughout this book, I pretty much hated him. But the sad thing is, it was all because of his obsession with Mary, even though she would never love him. It doesn't excuse all the horrible things he does for Mary, but I do feel bad for him. And when he sacrificed himself at the end, it was super depressing. Even by destroying himself for Mary, he could not get her to love him. And that was a big turning point, because it showed just how heartless and selfish Mary had become.So, that basically covers the most important characters who have been in the previous books. Now for the new characters!First of all, there's Clarence, the so-called "scar wraith"––an old man who is only halfway part of Everlost because of an accident, and who can destroy Afterlights by touching them. Firstly, I have to say that the idea of the scar wraith is a really really cool idea. One of those aforementioned ideas I would have never thought of. At first, he just seems like an insane, cranky old man––but as he gets swept up in all the madness, he develops in an unexpected but interesting manner, becoming a very sincere and lovable character. It's sad in the end how he can't see Everlost anymore. At least he knows he helped to save his Afterlight friends, but it's bittersweet, because he never got to say goodbye and no one in the living world will ever know he was telling the truth all along.Then ... JIX! OH MY GOD! JIX! *FANGIRL SCREAMS* If I were but a few years younger, I would totally be in love with him. Unfortunately he's a bit too young for me––although I'm not sure exactly how old he is. Oh, well. I'm still obsessed with him. I mean, he speaks Spanish and he is part jaguar. What is sexier than that? I mean, I guess being part-cat is a little weird, but I pictured him looking kind of Na'vi-ish, so you know ... not so bad. *Ah-hem* But, sexiness aside, he is also an awesome and well-developed character. Throughout the book, we see him struggle between what is right and wrong. And then of course, there's Jill (going back to old characters ... but I had to mention Jix and Jill together) who I initially hated, but who was so awesome in this book. Jix and Jill are the cutest thing. Before, Mikey and Allie were by far my favorite couple in the series, but I think Jix and Jill stole that title. They are just too dang adorable. "I love you." "Then you're an idiot." ... Well, don't remember the exact exchange, but it was something along those lines.