Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this - she is dead. And alone, in a vast, dark space. The only company she has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things Maddy lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that with these artifacts, she can experience - and sometimes change - moments from her life.
When I first heard about this book, I knew that I needed to read it. I’ve always enjoyed hearing different theories and opinions about what happens in the afterlife. Young adult fiction is also a favorite of mine, so I was pretty sure this would be a winner. And it was!
At the beginning of the story we are introduced to Maddy, a teenage girl as she becomes conscious of her surroundings. However the consciousness she achieves is unlike anything she’s ever experienced before. The place she finds herself in is not so much a physical place, and the self she awakes as is not really the physical self she was. It’s as though she left the physical world behind and is now the essence of herself. Soon she realizes that she did indeed leave the world behind, as she knows that she is dead, but somehow still exists in this new world.
Exploring this non-place where she exists, she discovers many material objects that she had lost during her life. Once she gets the hang of moving amongst these things, Maddy begins to interact with the lost objects. By doing this she can go back to the time when she lost the particular item, and once there she can either watch her life, or with effort, become one with the self of her past. As Maddy becomes active in these past moments she can also change things, but these changes will have repercussions and will alter the future of her past self, which is terrifying to contemplate.
The only thing that Maddy is sure of is that something terrible must have happened to lead to her being dead and in this place, and she is determined to discover just what went on in her lifetime. Along the way she will also receive guidance from people she once knew to help her on her quest for knowledge.
The Everafter immediately drew me into the story, after finding out about Maddy’s situation I found myself wondering how I would feel to suddenly wake up dead, not knowing how it had happened. My initial response would be the desire to uncover the truth at any cost. And so I was enthralled with her journey.
There were many instances where Maddy returned to moments of her everyday teenaged life and while these contributed quite a bit to the mystery and also to getting a clear idea of just who she was, it was the small moments she returned to from her time with family that were really effective in creating emotional character development. Being dead, Maddy missed her family greatly, and seeing her reactions as she went back to special moments of her childhood with her parents was so touching.
The style of the story was very nicely done, with chapters jumping from Maddy’s current time in the everafter to various other times from her past. While this could have resulted in a choppy narrative, the author pulled these vignettes together to create a well-paced, engaging story.
My only complaint would have to be the way in which Maddy thought with regards to her boyfriend. There are a few scenes where she wonders why such a great guy is with her. I understand that this self-doubt can be a natural feeling, and it does contribute slightly to the storyline, however I’d much prefer to see more confident young women in young adult fiction.
Despite that minor issue, I thoroughly enjoyed The Everafter. It reminded me of another young adult novel involving a young woman and the afterlife (although quite a different version of one) called Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, which I would also recommend.
About The Author
On any given day, you can find Amy Huntley book-hopping between children's books and 19th-century British literature. Or between a great young adult novel and an adult spy thriller. She has been a life-long reader. Amy lives with her husband and daughter in Michigan, where she is a teacher of high school English.
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