So, I get to change up my standard disclaimer for this review. Rather than receiving it in exchange for an honest review, I won the book at a book release party. I will review it honestly, anyway. As if I wouldn’t. On to the review.
Tales of Ever by Jen Wylie is about a teenage girl named Misha who grew up without a father and loses her mother to illness. When she’s taken in by relatives her world gets turned upside down and she’s banished to the world of Ever where survival has taken on a whole new level of weird. The bonus prize? Along the way Misha discovers her father isn’t dead—he’s been banished to Ever ahead of her.
First, I love that Wylie created such memorable characters. Each one of them had distinct voices and well-conceived back stories. She dribbles that back-story throughout the novel like breadcrumbs—paced out well enough it’s not just dumping the story there but often enough to keep me going. Their distinct personalities were clear, consistent, and believable. The characters were also a good balance of strengths and flaws, which is much appreciated.
Next, that same thought and attention were applied to the world building. Wylie clearly put quite a bit of effort in to creating the world of Ever and the rules by which its denizens lived. The different zones were an intriguing concept, but what I loved most about this is that the creatures in each zone fit the zone’s ecosystem well. Killer flowers in the jungle area, glass monster things in the desert, and sea monster things in the rivers dividing zones. This is but one example of the planning Wylie put into building Ever.
Finally, I enjoyed the plot and pacing of the story. Wylie kept the story moving well without being overwhelming. The action sequences are fast paced and pulled me along at a good speed. Well timed breaks allowed me to breathe right along with Misha and the people she meets along the way. Furthermore, Wylie doesn’t just give away things. Readers have to work, in a good way, to follow along with Misha as she discovers so many secrets and stories about herself, her family, and surviving in Ever.
There were only two things that stuck out as being less than my favorite and I have to add a caveat on them. That caveat is they are a personal preference thing, not something that really makes or breaks a story. That being said, the first thing I wasn’t as fond of in the story is the love triangle thing that develops along the way. Keep in mind, this is a novel for middle grade/high school readers, so this aspect of the story may be more appealing to this age group. Just didn’t resonate with me.
The other thing is not so much a dislike as it is a wish for something more. I would have loved to have gotten into Misha and her father’s background more. Things like how they had the powers they did and where they came from because they’re not mere humans like the rest of us. Again, this is probably more about this being aimed at a middle grade/high school audience where such details may not be as appealing.
I loved the book. It is a well written story that middle grade and high schoolers would connect well with. The positives in the book far outweigh any dislikes I saw in it. Anyone who is a fan of this genre needs to check this book out. Solid four stars from me.