I received this e-ARC for review from the publisher through NetGalley. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.
This is Ashton's debut novel, and I found it very hard to put down!
I was immediately drawn to this book because of the gorgeous cover. I love the red/black colour combination, and that dress is simply amazing!
At the beginning of the story, 17 year-old Nikki Beckett is awakening from something called "the Feed." She is with Cole, the Everliving that she was feeding for 100 years in a place known as the Everneath. Cole has been feeding off Nikki's emotions, and she shouldn't have survived the Feed...yet, somehow, she did. Cole wants her to become an immortal, like him, and live with him forever but she wants to return to her home. The only thing that she can remember about her life back on Earth (the "Surface") is a boy with brown eyes and brown hair, and Nikki feels compelled to find him.
Nikki returns from the Everneath to find that only six months have gone by. She cannot explain her absence, and everyone thinks that she became addicted to drugs and simply ran away. No one would believe her if she told them where she really was. Because of Nikki's decision not to remain in the Everneath with Cole, she has only six months on the Surface before she has to return to the Tunnels to power the Everneath for eternity. She is determined to make things right and say her goodbyes and not leave without a trace like the last time. Coming back is a selfless act, because she knows that she cannot stay and that she will only have to return to the Everneath. For Nikki, coming back will make it ultimately more difficult on herself because she has to leave again.
The story jumps back and forth from the present tense with a countdown to her time left on the Surface, to the past tense where we learn about the events that led up to Nikki's trip to the Everneath. I thought that the countdown technique that Ashton employed was cleverly anxiety-provoking! It definitely made me feel uneasy watching Nikki's time wind down, and it make it hard for me to put the book down!
The boy with the brown hair and brown eyes, Jack, was Nikki's boyfriend. What's not to love about Jack? Nikki doesn't make it easy for him to be around her, but he senses that there is more going on than she is letting on and lets her know that he has her back. He never forces her to talk or open up but, rather, waits until she feels ready to let him in. Jack is the type of boyfriend that is every high school girl's dream!
I hate to say it, but I even loved Cole! Despite the fact that Cole is supposed to be the "bad guy," his feelings for Nikki appear to be genuine. I think that Jack said it best: "Trust me, Becks. I know exactly what loving you looks like on a person. And he loves you."
Ashton did a great job with everyone's character development. I loved Nikki's character growth, and my heart just ached for her because she felt that she deserved what she got and that there is no such thing as redemption.
I have always been a fan of mythology, and I love how Ashton integrated it into the story. The ending was a jaw-dropper, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!!
MY RATING: 4 stars! I really enjoyed it and would recommend it!! Thanks to HarperCollins for the opportunity to review this book!