Friday, April 12, 2013

Ever by Jessa Russo

Hel and I were given a free (yay!) copy of Ever for Jessa Russo’s blog tour. This for the tour date April 13th.

Here is a quick synopsis, from the author:

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.

Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love.
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

Panda: My first instinct is to put this book in perspective. I’m not sure how to start, so I’m going to compare it to something: the book starts off like a quick-paced version of the Twilight series. Think Twilight crammed in to one book. Except minus the vampires and plus the ghosts. However, the love triangle, for this book, goes: Frankie, Ever, and Toby. Frankie is the Edwardian character. Toby is the bad boy like Jacob (from Twilight).

Ghost-Frankie watches over/haunts Ever like…well, like Edward watches over Bella. Toby moves in next door and Ever basically falls in love with him at first sight.  

The book addresses its Twilight-nature on page 22 when Frankie tells Ever he’s not a teenage vampire with “boundary issues.” But this still doesn’t necessarily make up for the fact the paranormal-triangle is so similar. But hey, that’s the genre these days and I’ll only rag on it for a little while.

For me, Ever is too boy crazy and (for someone who cares a lot about her dead boy friend – not boyfriend) too eager to fall for Toby. This made me not like her. As a person/character. I don’t like girls who seem to have no life/no existence other than to obsess over boys. 

At first Frankie seems like an imaginary friend – a character that I wasn’t sure if I should treat as a real character. He doesn’t really say or do anything in the first half.

Toby is apparently about 20 yrs old. Yet we’re supposed to believe he lives with dad. Which makes him seem like a big loser. HOWEVER we have a right to be suspicious of this set up. Toby’s situation is just a cover. But I won’t give the ending away – because this is a pure review. No spoilers!

As I said before, I didn’t know how to think about Frankie. The fact that he doesn't know how Ever feels about him made it all a little hard to believe. It seemed like a forced attempt to make the plot more interesting.

At times, Russo talked too much about what the characters are wearing and that was a little dull. But that’s just personal preference.

Frankie is really manipulative when he discovers Ever is dating Toby. And that means he finally becomes a more-rounded character.

At one point he calls Ever “pathetic” and I started to like him.

In my opinion, Toby was really the pathetic one. He dates his neighbor. Who DOES that? The “boy next door” is just as (what I would call) gross as the “girl next door.” It was too stereotypical. And, in the end, it was supposed to be. Because Toby is more than he seems.

Also, Ever has this friend named Jesse. Jesse’s family/mother problems seemed like an excuse for drama. A sub-plot that could have been cut. I was quite glazed-over when reading about Jesse.

I felt the same when one of Ever’s parents die in a car accident. I wasn’t really sure of the point. Other than to make Ever freer from parental restraints, and thus let the plot have more move-around room.

When Toby breaks up with her, Ever goes on a bender. I didn’t really get WHY Toby would break up with her when he put so much “effort” into gaining her affections. It was all kind of sudden and unwarranted.

But at the end I understood why. Toward the end it actually got pretty interesting. It turned into this Bleach (manga/anime, if you didn’t know) soul-collecting thing.

I wished this plot point had been introduced sooner, rather then dragged out through the entire novel. It made everything else make sense. The whole time nothing made sense in a way that was very hard to trudge through.

There wasn’t much plot. Russo only draaaaaagged out this twist final twist. 

In sum: The novel was more like a soap opera in parts with flat characters. Drama for the sake of drama. The best part of said drama, though, was Ariadne – Toby’s b*tchy ex-girlfriend. She should have come in at the beginning. Also, I didn’t really catch on to Toby’s “dad” disliking Ever until around  page 200. If these dynamics had been clearer to begin with then maybe the story itself would have been more interesting. In sum, it took me 200 pages to actually become interested in the story. 

Would have been better if: I would have liked to see Toby and Ever’s relationship-blossoming in a flash – a sped-up version of it. Maybe they could have already been dating when the book started and then we get a quick back-story on how they met. This would have given more time to explain the whole “soul-collectors” bit. 

You never really get the sense that there are RULES dictating what a soul-collector can and cannot do. We’re just supposed to take them as they are. It would have been more interesting to read about THEM than the boy craziness Ever suffers through. The very end is a cliff hanger. It is the first of a trilogy, yes, but that doesn’t mean it couldn't have been a little more satisfying. 

I had to restrain an eye-roll when Ever does a Google search (much the same way Bella has to research Vampires in Twilight) for “Soul-collectors.” I felt like this could have been left out. 

Positive aspects: When Ariadne makes fun of Ever for reading vampire novels I wanted to laugh – but I found all the vampire-talk a bit out of context. We were never dealing with vampires. Only ghosts. Russo tries to make her story intertextual but it falls flat and actually distracts from her main story/points. I wish she had developed her over-all plot. That was her strength.

Ever flip-flops between loving Frankie and Toby to the point that it’s arbitrary. I didn’t really care who she ended up with/chooses. I liked Ariadne more than Ever (ha ha, that's funny to say). And I felt bad for Ariadne after she doesn’t get what she wants, in the way that she wants. Ariadne was a character that brought wicked freshness to the story. 

Final verdict: I would probably recommend this book to pre-teens. Not actual teens (definitely not the New Adult market, even though the characters are 17-20). Especially if they know what Twilight is and are looking for something similar. Even if Toby was a 20-something he still seemed really...immature. Ever might have been 17 but she acted more like a 13 year old. 

Twilight actually had a better love triangle going on, though Russo’s overall concept was more original. And I would rather kids read this book over Twilight.

Hel: Instead of rambling about this book, let me break it down into positive and negative aspects.


1) The over all plot. It's quite original. I haven't read many ghost stories, but none of the ones I have read take on the angle that Ever does. So props to Russo for originality. I really was expecting just another vampire novel.

2) Russo can write smut! Talk about steamy.

3) There was definitely a sense of mystery and wanting to know what was going to happen. I had to finish the book, no matter what, because I just HAD to know what was going on with Toby.

4) They always say "write what you know" and I think Russo has done this. Since she lives in California, she was able to describe the area in detail and made you feel like you were there yourself. I always appreciate that in a novel (as I mentioned in our last review).


1) The characters. They all fell flat. Well, most of them did. Jesse, Frankie, Ever and Toby were walking stereotypes. They were defined by a small handful of characteristics and didn't deviate from them. For example, Frankie is stuck in his rock-a-billy persona so much that even his name matches. Jesse is the perky, popular, boy crazy CONSTANTLY WEARING PINK best friend who only ever manges to say, "Oh, Ever". Nobody says that. Nobody. Ever's parents are probably the worst. They are far too understanding, trusting, kind. They have none of the characteristics of REAL parents.

I did like Ariadne, as well as Gregor. These characters were more interesting and fleshed out.

The character interaction picked up and made everyone seem more interesting around page 200. It was a long time to wait, if you ask me.

2) The pace. The book was about 300 pages long, but only about 75 pages of it were necessary. The rest seemed to be filler. Because without it, we wouldn't have a trilogy, would we? I felt like a lot happened that didn't actually HAPPEN, if that makes sense. For example, we were constantly told "Ever and Toby were out all day doing this and that' but we were only given very few actual action scenes. And by action I mean scenes in which activities other than Ever thinking about the same damn thing (the love triangle) happen. From my point of view, there was no basis for Toby and Ever's relationship went aside from their physical attractions to each other. The same could really be said for Frankie and Ever. Ever claims Frankie is her best friend and she has loved him for all these years, but the only time they ever interact is when Ever has a nightmare or Frankie wants to lecture her. We are given no reasons as to why Ever should like Frankie, what their friendship was really like before his death, or any motivation to root for him. Just like the character interaction, the pace of the novel picked up around 200, and that's when the story became really interesting. As Panda has stated, I wish the previous 200 pages could have been wrapped up a bit more succinctly, and with more excitement other than lip locking.

All in all, I very much agree with Panda that the age demographic that this book targets is not teen, but pre-teen. However, I also don't think that the book is really appropriate for pre-teens, given the steamy content. So it's hard to say who should read this book.

Disclaimer: Helena and Amanda were given a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. 

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