I just finished Shusterman's charming paranormal tale Everlost. At first, I didn't think I'd like it. But, much like Nick and Allie I was pulled into the world of Everlost.
Maybe if I'd read this book as a kid, I might not have found humor in it. But, I found it and enjoyed it. I couldn't help laughing at the reference to Roswell, New Mexico. What people have thought of as alien space craft, according to Shusterman, was just the ghost of the Heidenburg peeking through on a sunny day. I even got a laugh off the mention of the Amityville Horror.
Shusterman's tale is full of historical references. I loved his handling of the Twin Towers. It was a wonderful, thoughtful tribute to what happened on 9/11. Other events sprinkled throughout Everlost was the disappearance of the Marine Sulphur Queen in 1963, Atlantic City's Steeplechase Pier and Steel Pier along with the incredible diving horse and the destruction of Pompeii.
But, Everlost isn't a Young Adult history book. It's a creative way of pondering what happens after we die. Nick and Allie struggle with the afterlife. They can't quite come to the realization that they are dead. The nagging question throughout their journey is 'why didn't we go to heaven or hell'. It's a question all people of all ages and religions constantly ask. Nick considers that question constantly and gets some insight when he thinks about how other religions have tackled it.
Shusterman is a screenwriter and it shows in the details. I loved the way he described ghost buildings: the Waldorf Astoria and the Old Penn Station. And, when he writes about "skin jacking" and "body surfing" you could visualize what was happening.
Finally, I loved how the idea of time was handled in Everlost. It was a land filled with objects that once belonged in the land of the living: 1978 tv shows, Vivaldi's concertos, the Three Stooges, Pac Man, and even Mary Queen of Scots (Mary Queen of Snots). But, Everlost wasn't a landfill. It was a place that held those things people had loved.
By the end of the book, Nick realized his true potential. He became a host for other kids who come to Everlost. Think of him as a ghostly Rod Serling navigating The Twilight Zone.
I thoroughly enjoyed Everlost. I look forward to reading the other two books in the series.