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Time and Again
Jack Finney
This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death
Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, David Malki, Nathan Burgoine, Toby W. Rush, Rhiannon Kelly, Ryan Estrada, George Page III, Chandler Kaiden, Tom Francis, Grace Seybold, D.L.E. Roger, Daliso Chaponda, John Takis, Ada Hoffmann, Rebecca Black, Karen Stay Ahlstrom, Gord Sellar, M
Everlost - Neal Shusterman Everlost is the place where children go when they die and don’t quite get where they were going; when they’re knocked off course on their way to the Light. This in-between land is filled with ghostly children, who sink through the ground of the living world and can only influence it if they have the innate skill. It is scattered with objects and places which were loved dearly in the living world, such as Stradivarius violins, ships, and space shuttles. The dead children can influence these objects, use them and forge the meaning of their purgatorial existence from them.

In Everlost, we follow two teenagers, both killed in the same automobile accident, strangers to each other. Through their experiences as Greensouls – children new to Everlost – we encounter things both fearsome and whimsical, monsters and fortune cookies. Nick and Allie, our protagonists, come to have more of an adventure in Everlost than they may ever have had if they had stayed alive. In the end, both discover secrets about the world they are stuck in, and the nature of their existence.

The story behind this book has nearly unlimited potential, and as I read I was surprised it hasn’t become one of those ubiquitous young adult series. It certainly could have spawned at least one sequel, and really I would love to read that book. Overall, if more of the story is never told, at least Shusterman did an admirable job playing up this world and everything fantastic within it.

The sudden appearance of “everlost” buildings and vehicles are well-played and emotionally dependent on the reader, who will almost certainly have the eye-opening reaction expected by the author. It’s difficult not to feel what Allie feels when she and Nick first gaze upon their brief home in New York; I won’t spoil it, but it’s moving. A bit cloying at times, but certainly an emotional punch.

Though you’d think a book like this might play with religious themes, there’s very little of it here. The Everlost children are more preoccupied with their imagined monsters – the McGill! The Sky Witch! – than pondering who put them in this world and why. There are a few implications of a divine hand playing a part in their world – such as when Nazi emblems are erased from a vehicle that passed into Everlost – but these are thankfully few and far between, because this world is more captivating if the answers are not given outright.

Certainly worth a read, Everlost will absolutely give you more to chew on than its plot summary first appears.