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Literature / The Skinjacker Trilogy

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A trilogy of the adventures of Nick and Allie through the mysterious world of Everlost by Neal Shusterman.

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.

There was a rumor of a beautiful sky witch, who soared across the heavens in a great silver balloon. And there were whispers of a terrible ogre made entirely of chocolate, who lured unsuspecting souls with that rich promising smell, only to cast them down a bottomless pit from which there was no return.

Everlost, the limbo land of dead children, is at war.

It becomes clear that the outcome will determine not just the fate of Everlost, but the fate of the living world as well.

The trilogy contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Megan Mary McGill and her younger brother Mikey McGill.
  • An Astral Projection, Not a Ghost
  • And I Must Scream: For the most part averted. Afterlights tend to be capable of going through the same repetitive motions for almost infinite periods of time, without really noticing the passage of time, so they can't become bored.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Stuff like Roswell and the Trinity test site.
  • Body Surf: Skinjacking.
  • Character Focus: There are usually several plots going on at the same time. Though it's written in third person, the narrator alternates between the different subplots, with the main characters often being split up.
  • Cliffhanger
  • Conveniently Coherent Thoughts: Averted - when 'skinjacking' a human, random disjointed thoughts just bounce around.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Flanderization: Played With: Minor details in an Afterlight's appearance grow overpowering as the souls forget what they looked like.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Afterlights are forced to wear the clothes they died in, and they can't take them off at all. In particular, one kid died in a football accident, and not only can't take off his helmet, he can't even spit out his mouthpiece, and has to talk around it all the time.
  • Kid Hero: All the main protagonists are 14 years old or younger.
  • Meaningful Name: Since memories of the living world fade so quickly in Everlost, most kids forget their own names within a year. Therefore, they're often named something that has to do with their appearance in Everlost. Kids named Pugsy (looks like a pug), Bedhair (self-explanatory), and Speedo (drowned in a pool) are just a few.
  • Older Than They Look: Since no one in Everlost is over seventeen, kids who died hundreds of years ago can look like eight-year-olds. For example, Mary Hightower looks fifteen, but actually died almost a hundred years before the start of the series.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Posthumous Character
  • Rerouted from Heaven: Everlost is where you get rerouted to.
  • Sequel Hook
  • Story Within a Story: Each chapter is prefaced with an excerpt from either one of the many books written by Mary, or Allie the Outcast's book Everything Mary Says is Wrong. They can be quite creepy, at times, when juxtaposed against the story. Especially in Everlost.
  • Trapped in Another World: All of the characters are stuck in a world in between life and death.
  • Trapped on the Astral Plane: Children who get lost on their way to the afterlife (or who are in a coma) go to Everlost, which is the same as Earth, except invisible to living humans, and the only "solid" objects in it are places and objects that were greatly loved and/or left its mark on history. Certain children can interact with the living world by "possessing" living humans or "ripping" objects out of the living world into Everlost.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mary Hightower, who, by the end of the second book, is planning to kill everyone in the world in order to spare them the misery of being alive, and then all the children can live in Everlost. She decided that Everlost is the real world, and the living don't matter. Before that, her goal was to gather every afterlight under her wing and set them in a rut for eternity, so they'd be happily trapped in Everlost. Mary also ended up telling her skinjackers to go kill children and bring them into Everlost.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Zin? She lived and we never saw her again. Shusterman addressed this in a blog post, and gives her an epilogue.