Evermore (The Immortals Book 1)
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009
OK, don’t judge me. Well, at least not yet. I’d light to thing that my earlier reviews of certain titles by Stephanie Meyer set some precedent here but maybe that’s thinking too much. Regardless, sometimes I get curious about what people other than myself look to read. And when a title in terms of cover design and general plot outline resembles another series so much my curiosity becomes a thing to fear. I fought it for a long time but not so long ago, on a whim, I snatched up Alyson Noel’s Evermore (the first book in her Immortal series). Its resemblance to Twilight is undeniable and like Twilight it isn’t exactly the most sparkling bit of prose you’ll read. On the other hand, in terms of plot and character it exceeds its YA cousin in many degrees. Alas, its basic similarity to Meyer’s work (mostly superficial) is also its greatest detriment and the shadow cast by Meyer’s certainly taints one’s perception of Noel’s series.
Evermore opens as teenage Ever is living with her aunt after her family is killed in a car crash. In addition to taking the life of her family, and nearly her own, Ever is left with some residual gifts due to her near death experience: telepathy and the ability to see and talk with her little sister’s ghost. A popular girl turned somewhat reclusive due to her new abilities she hides from the world behind a pair of earphones and a seemingly endless supply of baggy sweatshirts (skin contact enhances her abilities). Of course all that changes with the entrance of Mysterious and Impossibly Attractive Edwar Damen. Of course Ever can’t hear Damen’s thoughts (the inverse of a certain other relationship if I’m remembering correctly). Ever is drawn into Damen’s strange existence and as more information comes to light the nature of Damen and Ever’s relationship becomes increasingly bizarre.
Truth be told the girl meets supernatural boy plot is the novel’s least interesting and most played out aspect. In fact the romance plot takes away from the more fascinating points of the novel namely Ever and her gifts. Partially my interest in this portion of the story stems from an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Earshot, and Buffy can’t hear the thoughts of vampires, bizarre how that dynamic keeps coming up) which examines some of the grittier underbelly of life with telepathy. Noel touches on some of the same and I thought the section of Evermore where Ever slides into an alcoholic binge (it silences her gift) was a fascinating and intriguing take on a similar theme.
What I also found disturbing was that the novel did not really examine Ever’s grief in a meaningful way. The novel dances around the issue quite a bit but never really tackles it head on. It’s there in the background but never to quite enough to really impact the reader. It really seemed to me that all of the most derivative elements of the novel were brought to the fore while the original ones were shuffled to the back. Given the cultural phenomenon of Twilight I’d be curious to know precisely how or if its presence effected draft revisions as Evermore was being written. Maybe I’m reading too much into these similarities but the basic outline of the novels matches up far too closely for comfort.
Evermore never really reaches beyond its paranormal romance trappings. This is in despite of having several interesting characteristics that could well have served to create something truly tremendous. That said it isn’t bad paranormal romance and in terms of its main characters and supernatural elements far exceeds its primary competition in both quality and believability. Maybe the similarities will wear off in further volumes of series (the most recent volume Everlasting was just published earlier this month) but I don’t think I have the wear-withal to stick to it for that long. Of course, I’m far far far outside the targeted demographic for this YA paranormal romance and, as the cliché goes, your mileage may vary. If you’re the type that enjoys paranormal romance and couldn’t stomach Twilight I think Evermore might be an entirely more worthwhile endeavor. Take that for what it’s worth.