Skinjacker #3. Author: Neal Shusterman.
While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a fur-jacker—a skin jacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins, and has his own agenda. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth.
I’ve been thinking a good bit about this series, since finishing it. What makes it really fascinating is that Shusterman writes a morbid premise (dead children) into the whimsical world of Everlost, into an absolutely engaging story, tucks in a number of interesting reflections on death and life and the differences, and does it all without moralizing.
For one thing, there are the skinjackers, who all have living bodies in comas. They’re not dead, but they walk among other Afterlifers just the same. And then there are scarwraiths, humans so badly injured and scarred at one point that part of their body crossed into Everlost. They exist in the normal world and Everlost at the same time. This can’t be true death. And most of the Afterlifer’s problems stem from this inbetween place, where they’re not ready for death, but have lost their grip on life.
One of the most insidious dangers of Everlost is repetition, as we see in the first book. In life we are always changing, either growing or regressing; in death we will have no more need for change. I think that’s one reason we have such trouble comprehending heaven, because as long as we’re alive, we can’t imagine changlessness without stagnation. The children of Everlost can change, but only with effort.
Mikey and Johnny are very different characters, but they both start out as self-centered bullies, and go through a redemption arc. And then, both of them are scared of taking their coin and going on! They have a last change to change and make reparation, and they take it. All this to say that I’m almost positive Everlost is a sort of purgatory, a limbo, the final chance to make a different choice. The Afterlifers at the center of the earth are the perfect example. We know from Mikey that they really content there. Doesn’t this sound like a true limbo? A place of waiting, with no change or action or escape, and yet no despair, only patience and peace.
So yes, I really love this series. Even Jackin’ Jill gets something of a redemption arc in this book – I never thought I would find her cute, but? It happened? It’s all Jix’s fault. He’s my favorite new character from Everfound.
And you don’t have to analyze the series to love reading it. (That’s just my style.) It’s imaginative, fascinating, and fun.
Sexual Content: One character says to another, “If you became a lioness, I could be your male.”
Language: 3 d***, 1 hell
Violence: There’s much more death in this book than the last two; it’s not described in blood or gore, usually described in large batches. The Afterlifers don’t really see most of the deaths, they’re just aware of them. / Skinjackers cause a carcrash which kills several civilians. One skinjacker unthinkingly releases a panther in a public place, which kills a little girl. One character is shot in the chest by a police officer: not killed, but wounded and taken to hospital. There are multiple accidents off screen caused by skinjackers; a fire, carcrash, etc. Then there are larger accidents, also caused by them, also off screen: a tainted water supply kills a number of people and sends more into comas, a poisonous gas cloud kills most of a town. Skinjackers kill two men by fighting in their bodies on a steel girder and letting them fall. Little boy is killed by falling girders. One character kills a skinjacker’s body with a syringe of poison. Two spirits are dissolved (non-existent); one by accident, the second ordered by his leader to touch the catalyst.