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Everwild by Neal Shusterman (audio)
labandbooks
proseandkahn

Skinjacker trilogy; book2. Unabridged audio book on 1 Playaway self-contained MP3 player (approx. 11 hours). Read by Nick Podehl. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009.

If you have not read Everlost, this review will be very spoilery; but since Everwild has been out for two years, I'm not too worried. You really should consider reading this amazing series though. It is quite popular in my library. Part of the reason why I haven't gotten to it has to do with the fact that I donated my copy to my library when some fans of Everlost were panting for the sequel. It was on TOM, but I had so many books to read before getting to it, and I was out of budget money; so I gave it up. Then, I got busy and kind of forgot about it until Everfound came out this past May. "Oops," I thought, "I had better get cracking!" By then, I had fallen in love with the voice of Nick Podehl; learned that he had narrated the first two books; and thought, "What a great way to catch up with the story!"

So. Mary Hightower is trundling around Everlost in a dirigible picking up Everlights, lost souls who didn't quite make it into the light. Nick, aka the Chocolate Ogre is riding the rails in a steam engine handing out coins to Everlights to help them reach the light. Mortal enemies? Sort of. It's complicated. But it's not just their story. Allie, the girl who entered Everlost with Nick because the two of them died in different cars in the same accident, is now Allie the Outcast. She and the Magill, who is now Mikey, who is also Mary Hightower's brother are partners. Together, they travel Everlost and beyond on a horse, trading goods that have crossed. Allie can Skinjack, inhabit the bodies of living people and thus feel all the sensations denied Everlights. The two of them meet a trio of skinjackers who are hunting a fourth by the name of JacknJill because they have a score to settle.

It has been quite a few years since I read Everlost, but the story came back to me and this one is even better, though I highly recommend that Everlost be read first. While it's probably possible to jump into the trilogy in book two, there's all the history between the three, plus the Magill that is alluded to in Everwild, but better if you've been through it.

The world building, which was so vivid in Everlost, i.e., the use of The World Trade Center as a gathering/ collecting place by Mary Hightower, is even better in Everwild. Here, Civil War battle sites are places where large communities of Everlights gather; and the launch site of the space shuttle, Challenger is the abode of a new character named Zach the Ripper. There are several interesting new characters and a plot twist that I never saw coming; so there definitely not be a two year gap between Everwild and the conclusion of the trilogy, Everfound!

Nick Podehl delivered yet another amazing performance. I am always surprised by him. He always manages to sound different in each performance, yet the same. It sounds stupid. But that's the way it is. He creates a fair number of distinctive voices, keeps the narrative going in his "regular" voice, yet never manages to overact, or rush, spit or stumble. He embodied dorky hysteria in Carter Finally Gets It; cocky jockiness in Bruiser and irritating self-centeredness in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which won an Odyssey Honor this past January. I have the first two books of Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy loaded in my iPad to listen to sometime over the summer. I think I will read Everfound with my eyes as the audio is not yet out and I really want to learn how it ends.