Once again, Neal Shusterman outdoes himself! So many final books in a series tend to leave readers disappointed on some level. I don't think too many people will feel that way when they finish Everfound. This book has the right balance of new and familiar, as well as even more depth, complexity, excitement and emotion than the previous books.
Everfound takes up where Everwild left off, with Mary Hightower ("The Eastern Witch") hibernating as an "interlight" after her second death. Her cohorts--including skinjackers Milos and Jackin' Jill--await her reawakening while journeying west. On the way they "reap" the souls of children (cause their deaths and then grab their souls before they can go into the light). In their clutches is Mary's enemy Allie ("The Outcast"), who has sworn to stop her maniacal plans. Pursuing them to rescue Allie is Mikey McGill (once the monster known as "The McGill") and Nick ("The Chocolate Ogre"). Mikey and Nick are captured by a "scar wraith" named Clarence, someone who has body parts that have crossed over into Everlost and can see the ghostly children while most of him remains in the living world. One big complication: the touch of a scar wraith can make their souls cease to exist. Also new to the story is Jix, a "furjacker" who can inhabit the bodies of animals. He is on an assignment from the Mayan king he serves to bring Mary to a place called the City of Souls.
Whew, that's just the beginning and not even the half of it! This story really ramps up the stakes, not just for Everlost, but for the entire living world. Yes, Mary is THAT much of an evil (though in her mind, well-intentioned) genius.
Not only does Mr. Shusterman have a remarkably inventive mind when it comes to plot, he creates the most incredible characters. Even a sarcastic sociopath like Jackin' Jill can surprise you. As I said, in Mary's mind, she is not doing wrong, but actually "saving" the children that are reaped into Everlost. Mikey (who is high on my list of favorite fictional characters of all time) never QUITE shakes his "monster" side, even though he has found a redemptive love with Allie. Allie is not so perfect, either--in her own way she can be as ruthless as Mary. Nick, who turned into a blob of chocolate at the end of Everwild, has a wonderful emotional arc as he finds himself again.
The ending is bittersweet, but that won't be a surprise to anyone who was paying attention, especially to the last book. It made me both smile and cry, and wish I could hold on to these characters and this world just a little bit longer.