How am I supposed to feel after that ending?
Rating: 5+++++ stars!
I'm not kidding. That was my reaction after I finished this book. Seriously, I don't know what to feel. And I don't mean that in a bad way, because I absolutely adored this story. I just mean that my thoughts are a jumbled mess right now, and I don't know what to think about all that transpired during the last few chapters.
Am I supposed to hate Cole after what he's done? Am I supposed to be relieved that Jack's back? And mostly, am I supposed to believe that Nikki can do what she says she's going to do to the Everneath?
I'm happy because Jack and Nikki are reunited. I'm mad because of what Cole did. I'm excited for what's going to happen in the next book. I'm worried because I suspect that something might be terribly wrong with Jack. I'm sad because there may be nothing redeemable about Cole. And I'm so incredibly anxious for Evertrue.
You still following me? No? Then let me explain. No, really. I have reasons for all of my feelings. I just need to sort them out. So, here goes.
Firstly, Nikki. In so many YA novels, I find myself truly annoyed with the weak, I-can't-do-anything-on-my-own type of heroines. But Nikki is not like those female protagonists who sit back and let their men do everything. In the first book, it was really about her finding redemption. It was about her making up for the mistakes that she made and for the people that she hurt. In Everbound, she's still that strong heroine, but with a vulnerability that she cannot afford to have while traveling through the Everneath. She's strong-willed, scared out of her mind, but still willing to risk her own life for Jack. She's determined to save him. And normally I would find the martyr act so irritating, and it almost was because Nikki and Jack kept trying to save each other with no positive results. But Nikki isn't stupid, and she knew that there was a possibility that Jack could already be dead. Yet, she never gave up on him. Just like he never gave up on her.
Secondly, Jack. When I first read Everneath, I wasn't sure if his and Nikki's relationship would survive all that happened. But it just proved to me that their love was strong enough to conquer anything. Even the heart of Everneath itself. Jack was virtually non-existent in this novel, but I loved it when Nikki used their memories to keep her connection to him strong while looking for him. It gave me such sweet glimpses into their life and their relationship. I was rooting for them so badly, wanting them to find that happy ending. But I'm not sure if it happened. Yes, Jack was able to pull himself out of the Tunnels and find his way back to Nikki on the Surface. But he's different; he's bigger, taller, stronger. And even Nikki sees that, although she just shrugged it off as a result of him being in the Tunnels. But I can't just shrug it off, because I have this weird feeling that Jack wasn't just changed physically.
Thirdly, Cole. Oh, how I love this bad boy. But should I? Throughout the whole book, I found myself loving his character and the way he took care of Nikki. We find out more about him and his past, and that just made me love him even more. I think it's because he became this way as a result of his life as an Everliving, and that the author gave him some redeemable qualities. But after what he did to Nikki in the end, I'm not sure what I feel now. I should hate him, right? That only seems reasonable because he's trapped her in the life that he's living. There was an ulterior motive to him and Max taking her to Jack. It wasn't just because he loved her. He said it himself; he's no hero. But that doesn't stop me from wanting Cole to prove me wrong in Evertrue.
Fourthly, the love triangle. Honestly, I never really thought it was a love triangle. Nikki never would have picked Cole, and I'm okay with that. As much I as I love that bad boy, I love Nikki and Jack's beautiful relationship more. In my eyes, he was never a viable love interest. Nikki and Cole may have a connection, and he may be tethered to her, but hers and Jack's love is much stronger than all of that. It showed in the first book, and it was all over the pages of Everbound, from the memories to the unbreakable tether. That still leaves me wondering if Cole will find happiness, whether with Nikki or without. Honestly? I'm on the fence, especially after that deceitful ending on Cole's part. I'm holding off on my feelings about this love triangle until the next book, because with the way Ashton writes, I'm sure it will be abound with more surprises and even more obstacles. But this is definitely one of my favorite love triangles that I've read in YA novels. She writes it so beautifully.
Fifthly, the ending. What an ending! Truly, I never saw anything that happened in the last few chapters coming. I was completely blind-sided. Although, I did think Nikki was going to become an Everliving. I just didn't think Cole would be the reason why and that it would happen to her unknowingly, or so soon. And then Nikki's revelation in the end had me flipping out. I just have two words to say to that: HELL. YES.
The plot was fantastic, so many twists and turns it had me on the edge of my seat reading. So many times I found myself clutching my heart because of the terror and suspense that the characters were in. It pulled me along like a rollercoaster ride, fast and sometimes terrifying, with quick turns that sucked the breath out of me. I was so caught up in the danger and romance that surrounded Nikki's rescue mission deep in the darkness and heart of the Everneath. Everbound was, in one word, brilliant.
Did I forget anything? Eh, probably. Honestly, I'm still a little bit of a mess after finishing this book. It was freaking amazing, and it topped Everneath tenfold. I'm so ready for Evertrue!