Pages: 336 pages
Published: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction & Literature, Contemporary, Fantasy
Brody Fair feels like nobody gets him: not his overworked parents, not his genius older brother, and definitely not the girls in the projects set on making his life miserable. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a “knock-off Narnia” that opens its door at 11:21pm each Thursday for Nico and his band of present-day misfits and miscreants.
Here Brody finds his tribe and a weekly respite from a world where he feels out of place. But when the doors to Everland begin to disappear, Brody is forced to make a decision: He can say goodbye to Everland and to Nico, or stay there and risk never seeing his family again.
Brody Fair’s life is not all it is cracked up to be. He is the classic middle child: constantly eclipsed by his other siblings, especially with his highly intelligent, overachieving older brother Jake. Being bullied cause him to doubt his purpose and place in the world. That is until he meets Nico. Nico seems to get Brody, understanding the trials and struggles of adolescent life. To get away from it all Nico introduces Brody to Everland, a magical realm, separate from the real world, that is full of fantasy and wonder. Amid all the magic, Brody had finally found a place where he could be himself. But will he be able to break away from the fantasy when it is time to encounter the real world?
I found this book to be truly remarkable. Not only was it well-written, but Cameron also took readers on a journey of magic, fantasy and self-discovery. Reading about Brody’s battles with real-life just felt so real that it made me reflective of my teen years. Readers will feel a connection to Brody, a rare aspect that I think is in YA fiction genre. This truly extraordinary book had me hooked until the very last page. I didn’t want to stop reading it and didn’t want it to end. The narrative was just that good.
If you think Everland sounds a lot like Neverland, then you are right. This book is a perfect portrayal of a modern contemporary version of Peter Pan. Dealing with adults who you think don’t understand you, encountering a world where you don’t have to deal with responsibilities…how can a modern teen not find that enticing? Because of this retelling, Cameron could explore topics that affect most readers personally: academic pressure, poverty, sexuality, eating disorder, mental health and suicide. Cameron portrayed these issues effectively and engagingly. The plot between the two worlds was equally balanced and written to a point where there is a reason for the magical realism incorporated in the story. It had a purpose but didn’t make the story go off the rails.
The open dialogue of mental illness was not only a vital discussion and my favorite part. It not only affected Brody and Jake but also their father. This is a unique portrayal gave us a descriptive description of the mental illness of an authority figure. You don’t see that a lot of that in literature and I found it to be a vital discussion that is needed. It wasn’t minimalized or ridiculed (only by arrogant people who didn’t understand). The issue was dealt with the attention and compassion it rightly deserves.
An engrossing book that embraces the idea of escapism but it explores the growth and self-discovery the characters must go through, Last Bus to Everland was an engaging, magical read from beginning to end.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars