I also have a strange obsession with rereading all of the books in the series before I read the new book so I can truly appreciate the nuances in the new book. Since it is a school library book, and the end of the year, I reread the series quickly. Everlost is one of my all time favorite books. Everwild is the only Neal Shusterman book I do not like.
When Everfound starts, Nick is still a puddle of chocolate, Mary is encased in a glass coffin like Snow White, and Milos is trying to kill as many children as possible to fulfill Mary's evil plan. In her own, twisted way, she truly believes she is saving the children from a fate worse than Everlost - death.
Unfortunately, Milos is not Mary. He is not charismatic or protective or reassuring. He is not enough of anything. The kids desert him quickly. Milos resolves to kill more children to replace them. He must prove his love to Mary when she awakes by ensuring her kingdom. Luckily Mikey, Jix, Nick, and Allie are there to do what they can to stop Milos and Mary from destroying the living world.
I liked the book, but I didn't love it. I missed the characters I fell in love with in Everlost. Like the living children in my life, they grew up and moved on, even after death.
One of my favorite parts of the book is seeing Nick begin to resemble a boy when he remembers the love he shares with Mary. Love can change even the most horrific aspects of ourselves into the most human. Love can conquer all.
My favorite character in the book is a jukebox machine called Wurlitzer. If you feed it the coin you died with, it plays you a song, but the lyrics seal your fate. Like the fortune cookies in Everlost, this idea of fate vs. coincidence complicates the story line and makes me think in a new way. How much of what we dismiss as coincidences are actually messages to ourselves about the lives we are living? Are these markers left to remind us of the path we should choose or are they only our mind's need to find meaning in the chaos?
This book and the series make me think. What is life? What is a soul? Can your belief in something, even if that belief is wrong, be strong enough to kill you? What fates are worse than death? Is killing an evil person justified or is it still murder?
It is definitely worth the read, although it is too long for reluctant readers at 500 pages. If you love Everlost or Neal Shusterman, you will like this book. Note - You cannot read it without having read the other books in the series first.