A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Evertree is the seventh and last book in a multimedia, multiauthor series from Scholastic, similar to its 39 Clues and Infinity Ring series. There's a website where young readers can choose their own spirit animals and character identities and enter codes from the books they read to unlock prizes. Aimed at animal-loving tween readers just now digging into fantasy tales, each book since the series debut in September 2013 -- Wild Born, by Brandon Mull -- is written by a different, seasoned children's author, with new installments appearing every few months. The Evertree's author, Marie Lu, wrote the YA dystopian Legend series. In the final installment, Spirit Animals, things get pretty dark, as well. Armies battle, the heroes' ship gets blown apart by cannons, with many casualties, a giant ape wielding a weapon of power inflicts pain on the heroes, and animals fight and sacrifice themselves. Themes of teamwork and loyalty are big throughout the series. In this installment, the main characters learn about mercy for a former enemy.
What's the story?
After losing most of their hard-earned talismans to the traitor Shane and the mind-controlling giant snake, Gerathon, and losing their friend Meilin to Gerathon's mind powers, Conor, Abeke, and Rollan know their mission to save the world from the Conquerors is close to failing. All Gerathon needs to do is free the Great Beast Kovo from his prison and subdue the last good Great Beast who holds him. The Conquerors are on the move, amassing an army to defeat the remaining Green Cloaks. Most of the Green Cloaks march to meet them in the land of Stetriol, a diversion for Conor, Abeke, and Rollan as they try to sneak in and take the last talisman before Kovo is freed. They travel by a ship named for the Great Beast they seek. Before they can even reach port, they're attacked, their small band discovered before they even reach Stetriol.
Is it any good?
THE EVERTREE is an exciting conclusion to a fun multimedia series -- but it's a hasty one. Readers are given the young heroes' objective before they set off for Stetriol: Don't let Kovo out of prison, or else. "Or else" happens, and readers may feel a bit lost after that point. Nothing comes up about the actual Evertree and the stories around it until the eleventh hour -- unless you count Conor's dreams of golden leaves, but it's not enough of a hint of what's to come. Rush to the tree to catch Kovo, rush to understand its meaning to the Great Beasts and all of humanity, rush home for the heroes' celebration (there's not even a hint of how they got from Stetriol to home -- suddenly they're there). It feels a bit like fantasy-fiction Cliff's Notes.
Author Marie Lu had a lot to squeeze into the under-200-page formula the series was going for, and she did hit the high notes -- hooray for Meilin and Rollan -- but the formula misses an opportunity for a bigger series send-off.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the series ended. Was it what you thought? What surprises were there?
What were Shane's reasons for his behavior? Did you empathize with him? Do you think he deserved mercy?
Research time! Many mythologies throughout human history have included a tree that symbolizes life and the sacred. Compare the Yggdrasil from Norse mythology with the Evertree and stories from other cultures.
- Author: Marie Lu
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
- Publication date: March 31, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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