- Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55393-6 $21.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55392-9 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55395-0 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12
A year after her boyfriend’s death, Beatrice remains unconvinced that his demise was just an accident and takes an invite to hang out with her former groups of friends—whom she’s been estranged from since the night Jim died—as a chance to figure out what really happened. Instead, she ends up in a near-dead state herself when the group is in a drunken car wreck, and she and the other four teens find themselves in Neverworld, a limbo where they must relive the day of their accident over and over until they come to a consensus on which person gets to return to life. [End Page 442] Unsurprisingly, it takes thousands of “wakes” to get the group to agree on anything, and they decide that before any decision is made, they’ll use the time to solve the mystery behind Jim’s fatal accident. Though the characters are initially pretty stock and their introduction is expository, the brevity of the setup leaves room for the exploration of Neverworld and each teen’s reaction to an eternity of repetition. Their move from denial to debauchery is fast but unflinchingly realistic, as is their hopelessness each time they are forced to take “the vote” and come up empty. As the wakes continue, Bee voices her grief with searing insight and explores the surprising complexity of her relationships. The emotional heft is craftily balanced with the intrigue around the secrets Jim was keeping, so there’s a broad range of readers who will find Neverworld a place in which to linger.