Everwild, or what makes Neal Shusterman amazing


I was thinking it must be near-impossible to write a synopsis of book two for people who haven't read book one in a series packed full of imaginative mystery. Hoping for some inspiration, I went to read some of the promo info only to discover that it included not only spoilers for book one but also spoilers for the book it's promoting! Talk about trying to kill the amazing emotional payoff the author did such an incredible job naturally weaving into his story.

So if you have any desire to read a fascinating series, skip the promo info and head straight for Orson Scott Card's review that initially caught my interest. Not only does that do a much better job explaining the premise without major spoilers, it also provides some insights into why death as a plot device has such a different effect on children than it does on adults (something I have to remind myself when a twelve year old shrugs off a book that traumatized me as a grown-up, heh).

Since I don't feel comfortable saying much more about the series than "please, please read Everlost and Everwild so you can join me sitting around anxiously whimpering until Everfound comes out next May...." I'll say a little about Neal Shusterman.

In my opinion, he is one of the best writers in YA fiction right now. While his style and voice are remarkably versatile, he brings to each of his recent novels a common thread of... I want to say it is compassion. Whether represented with intense realism, constant wisecracks, or breathtaking tension, his characters are subtly given an extra measure of grace in the telling, and it is that touch that makes his stories so vividly alive.

The Antsy books (The Schwa Was Here and Antsy Does Time, hopefully soon to be joined by Antsy Floats) are a great introduction to his writing. Unabashedly steeped in humor but with a beating heart, these books are brilliant; they have everything plus they are just plain fun to read.

"Fun" is a word that will probably not apply to Unwind, but brilliant? Every inch. Even more chilling than Everlost, Unwind imagines a future in which all parts of the human body can easily be harvested for transplant, and any unwanted teenager is fair game. Neal Shusterman deftly takes an unimaginable idea and somehow without resorting to sensationalism or maudlin sentimentality not only makes it horribly plausible, he makes it feel so real you are left gasping for breath and remembering what a wonderful gift life is.

Fierce compassion. It is beautiful and awful and awe-inspiring, and Neal Shusterman is a master of it.
1 sprinkles of fairy dust:

At this point, I must say that I have not read a single book of his that I would not categorize as excellent. Everlost was probably my least favorite, but as I near the conclusion of Everwild, it pulls Everlost up.