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"Linger or light; the choice will be yours."
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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 bands 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.

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In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

Has a Character Sheet.


This novel provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Shout-Out:
    Allie: Great. I'm playing Wendy to a delinquent Peter Pan and the lost boys of Juvie Hall.
    Allie: Don't try to charm me. The 'Beauty and the Beast' thing doesn't work with me, okay?
    Allie: 'Ghost' implies a whole lot of things that I am NOT. Do I look like Casper to you?
    Allie: 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.
  • Tagalong Kid: Lief for Nick and Allie, Vari for Mary until she accidentally leaves Vari behind and then he becomes the new McGill.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    The McGill: I lied.
    Allie: Then I won't teach you what I know.
    The McGill: Then I'll throw your friends over the side.

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