Where ’til death do us part’ isn’t a valid concept.
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Age: Young Adult
First Published: 12th September 2012
Date Reviewed: 4th April 2013
The car accident that killed Frankie left Ever unscathed, but it’s now two years since Frankie’s death and for Ever, who was secretly in love with him, his presence as a ghost has meant that she’s been unable to move on. When a new neighbour moves into the house next door, Ever is at once struck by him, and he appears to be interested in her too. But her best friend lingers, telling Ever that Toby isn’t the right guy for her.
Ever is the début novel of Russo, the start of a series, and it shows a great deal of promise for the series as a whole. Russo is a competent writer, she knows her target audience well, and she tends to take care of those pesky elements – questions – that are so often left by the wayside. Indeed where questions are concerned Russo cleverly makes you think she’s going to leave you thinking she’s forgotten, before letting you know the answer. It’s a method that may not please everyone, but it successfully enables her to take a look at both the important aspects of her story, and the more light-hearted fun ones.
This leads us on to the main character. If the name sounds odd, it’s worth noting that it’s a acronym for the character’s full name and ends up working well enough. Ever will likely cause a divide in opinion, as her nature changes as the book continues. At the start she is a good narrator with a strong voice. Her feelings for Frankie naturally take centre stage a lot of the time and there is a great amount of pondering about Frankie’s place in her life – however given that Frankie never passed on this makes sense. It may seem annoying, but in the context of her life, Ever’s inability to let go is understandable. She makes a break for Toby, however it is a literal break, and the attraction is instant.
Later on, as situations become clearer and secrets are revealed there is a tendency for Ever to lose track of what’s important, for example she’ll say that working out an answer is important – and it is, very – but will then say she needs coffee first. Her state of mind here could offer a theory, but it is difficult not to think that given the new situation, one would know what to do in order of importance, especially as the important questions are of the kind that own an impulsive argument.
The other characters being described by Ever, they inevitably seem more focused. Almost all of them aim to aid her with clarity. The character likely to gain the most interest of the reader, perhaps more so than Ever, is of course Frankie.
Using Frankie as a point for further discussion (we’ll go back to him in a minute) the structure of the book is incredibly interesting for its freshness. Russo doesn’t spend much time detailing the accident (indeed it only gets a flashback) and neither does she talk at length about the overall set-up. Frankie has been there two years, Ever hasn’t got over him, and the entire household can see him. Russo states the necessary basics and moves on. There is no info-dumping; the only details Russo ever discusses at length are there to help you understand the characters better. This means that apart from Ever’s thoughts and worries, the plot stays on the topic at hand.
Of Frankie himself, then, it is very much a case of show rather than tell, and it’s left to the reader to work out why he has remained on earth (this is easy enough to work out so that you’re able to carry on with the story straight away). The rest of the characters provide ample backup but there are a couple of stereotypes that again are likely to divide opinion (Ever herself somewhat conforms to a stereotype). There is a bit of oddness to the parents seeming to want Ever to remain in love with Frankie, so she won’t meet boys, but then not wishing the ghost to be in her bedroom, and it would have been nice to know how everyone felt about Frankie’s presence. But these are quibbles. Less of a quibble is Frankie’s family – the reader may wonder how after his death his dad would have been okay with leaving when everyone knew Frankie’s ghost was next door.
So Russo is a competent writer, but there are a couple of aspects that do not blend in. There are a lot of emphasised words and phrases, and while some are satisfactory others bump at the pacing, slowing it down. And there are phrases that have unfortunately been made infamous by a certain recent best-seller. This means that whilst the usage of them is fair enough, wrapped up in Ever’s uncertainty and worries they bring to mind someone else; and Ever is far from that person.
The interesting thing about the structure of the book is that you’ll find many of the questions you have that are not answered become irrelevant. Some thoughts you might have are not addressed because Russo doesn’t need to address them. She could have, but then you’d be left with a lot of superfluous answers, and if anything that would have detracted from the story.
The romance takes the form of a triangle (this isn’t a spoiler as it begins in the first chapter). With a ghost involved this was always going to be different, and Russo has time to explore the feelings of guilt that come with trying to move on after a death. It doesn’t matter that Frankie is still there, if anything it makes it all the more poignant. Where intimacy is involved, Russo is adept at including all the worries and desires of a young person and the way she proceeds with this line of the story is laudable. Incidentally if you think you know where it’s going, who Ever will choose, it seems Russo isn’t anywhere near wrapping it up, but there is a difference here to the usual styles of keeping triangles moving. Some readers may find the limited time between sexually-charged encounters to be uncomfortable, others will likely be okay with them.
With Ever you have to be prepared for a book that is going to throw you straight into the action. You have to be comfortable with Russo taking her time, and you do have to be okay with the idea that it might take Ever some time to become strong again. With this character it’s not as easy as saying she should pull herself together, but so far if there’s something you’ve thought of, be it a wish for the story progression or character development, if this book is anything to go by, Russo’s already onto it. Ever rises and falls, delights and confuses, but it is a gripping story with enough uniqueness amongst its use of trends to make it a worthy addition to the paranormal Young Adult literature that’s been on the shelves for a while.
I received this book for review from the author.
April 10, 2013, 5:50 am
It sounds very good and I see that the story has its strong points even though we can expect that nothing new will appear in paranormal books. This is not “my genre” so I suppose I won’t read it but I like your review!
April 10, 2013, 7:37 am
Oh, now I see the spam problem! :(
April 10, 2013, 10:56 am
This book seems to have a really interesting premise. Sadly I think I am a little bored of paranormal Young Adult books now. Hopefully this will be fixed after a break from them and I would perhaps consider reading this book in the future.
April 16, 2013, 12:23 pm
Isi: Yep, it’s a bad spam problem :( Yes, it is quite similar to other paranormal books, but the author definitely seems to know exactly which readers she’s ‘targeting’ (as such).
Jessica: I understand that entirely. I know for me there’s the issue that you can start a book thinking it’ll be one thing and then it ends up like all the others and you do become jaded.