A novel by Neal Shusterman. The first novel of The Skinjacker Trilogy
Nick and Allie don't survive the car accident, but their souls don't exactly get to where they're supposed to
either. Instead, they're caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with things and places that no longer exist. It's a magical, yet dangerous place where bandits of lost children run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.
When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of the lost kids, Nick feels like he's found a home, but Allie isn't satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the "Criminal Art" of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost.
In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.
Has a Character Sheet.
This series provides examples of:
- Alliterative Name: Megan McGill and Mikey McGill.
- And I Must Scream: For some reason, The Screamer kid who gets captured along with Nick and Lief. Allie shuts him up.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: When Nick kisses Mary and is seemingly rejected by a non-reacting Mary.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Allie slaps Mary at one point.
- Batman Gambit: Allie and the McGill on each other. Throughout Allie's Scheherezade Gambit and Blatant Lies, she knows she has some sort of power over the McGill and enjoys it, which causes her to have some Conflicting Loyalty because while she strongly desires to rescue Nick and Lief, she feels a little sympathetic towards the McGill. Meanwhile, the McGill develops a strong case of Lima Syndrome for Allie, which is troubling for him because he knows Allie will abandon him and escape with her friends, if given the chance. However, because of the McGill's Blackmail over Allie, he also knows that she would do what he wants for the sake of her friends.
- Beast and Beauty: McGill and Allie (even Allie lampshades this):
Allie: "Don't try to charm me. The 'Beauty and the Beast' thing doesn't work with me, okay?"
- Becoming the Mask: According to Nick, Allie likes it with the McGill and having power over him (since her big plan has been taking quite a number of weeks to accomplish). After this accusation, when Allie growls at Nick for making a plan of his own, she doesn't want to admit her growl even sounds like the McGill's growl.
- Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: When Allie body surfs into a nineteen year old jogger, and they fight for control of the girl's body while Allie's driving. They crash into a guard rail along the road. The jogger ends up frightened and bruised but all right, but Allie literally falls out of the body and almost sinks in the water below. Mikey McGill saves her.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Mary.
- Big Applesauce: A good portion of the story takes place in New York.
- Big Bad: The McGill. Mary Hightower, though she is more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Until Everwild, that is.
- Big Bad Friend: See spoiler on Big Bad.
- Big "NO!": The McGill when Mary shows him a picture of who he really is - Mary's brother, Michael Edward McGill, which changes him back from an Eldritch Abomination to the fifteen year old boy he once was.
- Blackmail: Twice for Allie by the Haunter and the McGill. The former, she took a third option, but with the latter, Allie agrees for the most part.
- Blatant Lies: Allie teaching the McGill the twelve steps to be able to skinjack.
- At least half the things Mary writes in her books. For example: fortune cookies are toxic and the coin in your pocket is worthless junk.
- Body Surf: Allie does this three times.
- Boy Meets Girl:
- Nick meets Allie, and then Nick meets Mary.
- Gender-reversed when Allie is the first to meet Lief.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Vari can be seen as this at times.
- Broken Bird: Mary.
- But Not Too Foreign: Nick is half-Japanese.
- Character Development
- Character Focus: Interchanges between Nick, Allie, Lief, Mary, and the McGill (with a bit of Vari on the side).
- Chaste Hero: Johnnie-O when he says, "I don't like girls much." According to Allie, it's because he died a year too young.
- The Chessmaster: Allie seemed to have been getting there.
- Chekhov's Gun: The coin Afterlights have when they first enter Everlost is revealed to be their ticket to returning to the tunnel to the light.
- Clingy Jealous Guy: Vari.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Lief, half way through the story.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Despite "helping" the McGill in order to free Nick and Lief, it is subtly shown that Allie at times sympathizes with and secretly likes the power she has with the McGill, which is probably why her master plan is prolonged for weeks.
- Cool Airship: The Hindenburg.
- Cool Boat: The Sulphur Queen.
- Cool Horse: Shiloh, the Famous Diving Horse.
- Crash-Into Hello: Nick and Allie literally first meet when they bump into each other, causing them to sidetrack from the tunnel to the light and end up in Everlost instead.
- Creepy Child: Vari, especially in the beginning of the story when he's a Clingy Jealous Boy.
- Deadpan Snarker: Allie.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Johnnie-O and the McGill/Mikey McGill to Allie.
- Delinquents: The Altar Boys (Johnnie-O and his gang).
- Did Not Get the Girl: Nick after he betrays Mary. But there's always Foe Yay.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Allie tricking the McGill into beliving that she was teaching him how to Body Surf.
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Whenever the McGill begins showing genuine kindness towards Allie.
- The Dog Bites Back: When the kids who the McGill/Mikey McGill chimed create an angry mob and beat him up. Mikey McGill escapes them thanks to his Cool Horse to chase after Allie, who he wants to "bite back" for betraying him.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Nick at first.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Easily Forgiven:
- Allie after the McGill catches her opening his fortune cookies, thanks to a fortune cookie predicting forgiveness.
- Within a couple of hours of chasing Allie for betraying him, Mikey McGill has a change of heart from vengeance to admiration towards Allie for being a Worthy Opponent. This is probably why he rescues her.
- Eldritch Abomination: The McGill.
- The End of the World as We Know It: According to the McGill, this is what the Afterlights who sink to the center of the earth are waiting for.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: The Haunter.
- Fish out of Water: Nick and Allie.
- Five-Man Band:
- Foreshadowing: The fortune cookies.
- Heel-Face Turn: Johnnie-O and his gang. And Mikey McGill.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Nick's crush on Mary.
- Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: When the McGill catches Allie opening his fortune cookies (see Foreshadowing) in a Look Behind You moment and demands an explanation, Allie opens her mouth and hesitates answering, so the McGill automatically assumes she will lie (and if she does he won't be able to control his temper any longer). When Allie finally answers him, it smells of honesty, but the McGill opens a fortune cookie with Allie to see what to do. It reads, "Forgiveness keeps destiny on track," so Allie is then Easily Forgiven by the McGill. Because of this, Allie does a Pet the Dog moment by saying that forgiveness is the fifth step to skinjacking.
- Home Sweet Home: Initially Nick's and especially Allie's goal in the beginning of the story.
- I Choose to Stay: Nick, Allie, Mary, and Mikey.
- I Did What I Had to Do: When Nick betrays Mary by helping the kids go to the light.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Allie almost/could have become this.
- I Have Your
Wife Friends: Allie to the rescue.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: The McGill takes a growing interest in Allie not only because of her skinjacking ability but also because she doesn't fear him (she secretly does).
- Implied Love Interest: Thanks to the Ship Tease, Allie and the McGill/Mikey McGill.
- Interrupted Suicide: Subverted. When the McGill sees Allie staring off at the horizon from the deck and approaches her, Allie was actually looking at the horizon in hopes of finding the New Jersey shore. She senses the McGill's concern and accuses him of trying to pull a Beast and Beauty. The McGill actually thought Allie was going to jump and wanted to make sure she wasn't going to.
- Irony: Allie lies to Johnnie-O's gang that if they hurt her, she'll call the McGill, who will protect her. Guess who she eventually meets, fools into comradeship and betrays, and finally becomes allies with. The McGill rescues Allie after he tries to hunt her down.
- It's All My Fault: Allie after Nick and Lief get captured by the Haunter.
- Jacob Marley Apparel: Afterlights are forced to wear the clothes they died in.
- James Bondage: Nick and Lief get captured by the Haunter and then the McGill. Guess who comes to save them twice.
- Just Friends: Nick and Allie.
- Kid Hero
- Lima Syndrome: The McGill/Mikey McGill to Allie. This, along with his Pet the Dog moments and considering her a Worthy Opponent, causes him to he makes a Heel-Face Turn and become The Sixth Ranger.
- Limited Wardrobe: Justified, due to Jacob Marley Apparel.
- Living Lie Detector: The McGill believes he is this, but his arrogance blinds him from seeing Allie's Blatant Lies.
- The Load: Nick and Lief through most of the story.
- Look Behind You
- Love at First Sight: Nick towards Mary.
- Love Hurts: Nick and Mary oh so much, the McGill could count too.
- Love Makes You Dumb: Nick, for the most part, when it comes to Mary.
- Luminescent Blush: When Allie names the unnamed boy she and Nick meet "Lief," his happiness causes him to blush as if he had been kissed.
- Nick whenever he's around Mary.
- Meaningful Name
- Meet Cute: Meet Mary.
- Minor Major Character: Johnnie-O and his gang, the Haunter, Pinhead.
- Mood Whiplash
- Morality Chain: Arguably Allie for the McGill / Mikey McGill.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Mary Hightower and Allie the Outcast.
- Motifs: Books, the fortune cookies.
- The Movie: Rumored to become one.
- My God, What Have I Done?: See It's All My Fault.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The McGill.
- No Swastikas: The Hindenburg's are denied admission into Everlost.
- Non-Action Guy: Nick until he Took a Level in Badass.
- Not So Different: Allie and the McGill. See Becoming the Mask. They both dislike Mary too.
- Odd Couple: Nick and Lief.
- Official Couple: Nick and Mary until Nick betrays her and they become enemies. They turn into Foe Yay since they still love each other.
- Oh, Crap: When Allie gets chased by Mikey McGill on a horse for betraying him.
- Older Than They Look
- Only Sane Man: Allie, Nick at times (especially in comparision to Cloud Cuckoo Lander Lief.)
- Only the Worthy May Pass: To the Haunter. And if you're unworthy... let's just say the cost isn't pretty.
- Our Ghosts Are Different
- Out-Gambitted: Allie when the McGill realizes she betrayed him.
- Pet the Dog: Subtle moments between Allie and the McGill, especially when the McGill starts to like her.
- Platonic Life Partners: Nick and Allie. You'd think they'd become the Official Couple because they're the main characters, but they're just friends.
- Please Don't Leave Me: "Please don't go." - Lief to Nick and Allie when they decide to leave the forest to find their homes.
- It's all right, though because Lief secretly follows them to make sure they don't get hurt, and he even rescues them when Johnnie-O and his gang ambush Nick and Allie.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Lief after he becomes a Cloud Cuckoolander.
- Precocious Crush: Nine year old Vari's "crush" on fifteen year old Mary.
- Prophecy Twist: See Foreshadowing.
- The Punishment: Getting chimed.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Johnnie-O and the Altar Boys.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: See Quirky Miniboss Squad.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Allie and Mary, Vari and Nick
- Really 700 Years Old: The Haunter.
- Rescue Romance: Quite possibly between Mikey McGill and Allie when he rescues her after he makes a Heel-Face Turn because she is a Worthy Opponent. Because Mikey does like Allie, this is one-sided at best... so far.
- Retro Gaming: It's not Lief's choice since items that pass into Everlost are sometimes difficult to find, but it is implied he is playing The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the Game Boy at one point, and he also becomes obsessed with playing Pac-Man, playing it for five days straight.
- The Reveal: The McGill is Michael "Mikey" Edward McGill, Mary's younger brother.
- That coin you have with you when you first enter Everlost? It's your ticket to going to the light. And Mary knew that all along.
- The reason why the McGill never goes to Atlantic City is because that is where he suffered his first defeat at the hands of the Twin Pier Maradaurs, who captured him. One of the members of the Maradaurs later turned traitor and set the McGill free. Pinhead, the McGill's chief associate, knows of this crucial information because he was the traitorous Maradaur who set the McGill free.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When an angry mob of kids chase after the McGill, who chases after Allie.
- Romance Ensues: Nick and Mary, obviously.
- Rule of Three: Allie body surfs three times and Nick goes to the Twin Towers three times.
- Sequel Hook
- Scheherezade Gambit: Allie convinces the McGill she can teach him the twelve steps on how to skinjack so she won't get thrown overboard. They're all Blatant Lies.
- Ship Tease: Allie and the McGill/Mikey McGill.
- Shotgun Wedding: Lampshaded and averted. The McGill suggests for Allie to search in his treasure trove for nicer clothes to wear, even though Allie literally has a Limited Wardrobe and cannot take off the clothes she died in, but the McGill reminds her she could always wear the new clothes over it. The McGill finds a wedding dress in a cabinet. Allie gasps and the McGill turns, thinking she gasped because of the wedding dress - it's really because Nick is hiding behind the wedding dress.
Allie: I won't be a monster's bride.
The McGill: Who said I'd ask you?
Great. I'm playing Wendy to a delinquent Peter Pan
and the lost boys of Juvie Hall.
'Ghost' implies a whole lot of things that I am NOT. Do I look like Casper
Thank you, Mr. Google
. The next time I need crucial information, I'll type in some keywords.
Vari: Soon everyone'll just call you Chocolate. Or Hershey. Yeah, that's it. You'll be Hershey.
Lief: This game's stupid. Who the heck is Zelda, anyway?
- There's also a pair of afterlights in the Twin Towers who died on Halloween, dressed as a skeleton and a zombie. Their names are Skully and Molder.
- Smoking Is Cool: Johnnie-O.
- Stalker with a Crush: After the McGill starts to like Allie, he has a habit of appearing behind her a few times.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Allie does grow to sympathize with the McGill a little.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Mary, kind of.
- Tagalong Kid: Lief for Nick and Allie, Vari for Mary until she accidentally leaves Vari behind and then he becomes the new McGill.
- Take My Hand: "Hold on to me, and don't let go."
- Team Mom: Mary.
- Teen Genius: Mary is a know-it-all about everything Everlost, which is a reason why Allie dislikes her.
- There Are No Adults: Or adolescents 17 years old and above in Everlost.
- Title Drop
- Took a Level in Badass: Nick, who foils Mary's scheme in the end of the novel.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Arguably, Allie and Mary.
- Trapped in Another World
- True Companions: Nick, Allie, and Lief.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Nick, Lief, and Allie; Nick, Vari, and Mary.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Nick and Mary.
- Utopia: The Twin Towers, where Mary takes in Afterlights and give them a perfect-like home.
- What the Hell, Hero?: See Becoming the Mask.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Occasionally between Nick and Allie because they are both foils for each other.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mary.
- Worthy Opponent: Allie to the McGill. It's one of the reasons why he decides to rescue her in the end.
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: A variation.
Allie: Now tell me about the Afterlights on your ship.
The McGill: No.
Allie: You promised.
Allie: Then I won't teach you what I know.
The McGill: Then I'll throw your friends over the side.
- Zeppelins from Another World: The Hindenburg (or Zeppelin LZ-129).