Sailing aboard her father's ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a lady in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn't love in order to preseve her social standing. On her last voyage before the wedding, Camille learns the mother she has always believed dead is in fact alive and in Australia.
When their Sydney-bound ship goes down in a gale, and her father dies, Camille sets out to find her mother and a map in her possession - a map believed to lead to a stone that once belonged to the legendary civilization of the immortals. The stone can do exactly what Camille wants most: bring someone back from the dead. Unfortunately, her father's adversary is also on the hunt for the stone, and she must race him to it. The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar - a handsome young sailor and her father's first mate - who is in love with Camille and whom she is inexplicably drawn to despite his low social standing and her pending wedding vows.
With an Australian card shark acting as their guide, Camille eludes murderous bushrangers, traverses dangerous highlands, evades a curse placed on the stone, and unravels the mystery behind her mother's disappearance sixteen years earlier. But when another death shakes her conviction to resurrect her father, Camille must choose what - and who - matters most.
OPINION: 5 STARS
Poignant and historically realistic, Everlasting is a great mix of love and adventure. The time period setting is made clear from the start but is portrayed in a way that reads smoothly and any reader can understand and follow. A range of characters and vivid settings help bring out the overall fantastic nature of this book.
Camille is a strong character, particularly for her time period. Having lost her mother at an early age, she is used to spending months at sea aboard her father's ship. She loves the freedom and the water and doesn't mind helping with the grunt work. Despite this, Camille is still a relatively sheltered young woman and this aspect shows in certain areas of naivety which adds an overall realistic effect. She is passively defiant yet passionate about many things. Her rationalizations and motivations hold true to not only her age but also her time period. Though she is set to wed, it is expected of her in the time period and that engagement causes a certain amount of strife for her.
Oscar complements Camille fantastically. He is quietly controlled but quick with the quips and has plenty of sarcasm in him. His life is far different from what Camille knows but they are united in their love for both her father and the sea. The chemistry between them is clear from the start but watching it grow as they endure everything throughout this book adds another great element. Oscar has his weaknesses and flaws but overall, he reads as smoothly as Camille and both are highly likable characters.
Apart from these two characters, Frazier includes a handful of minor characters who are all very well developed despite their lesser roles. Lucius is a bit of a snot and though he is easily written off, Frazier writes him in a manner that made me question his back story and the psychology behind him. He holds enough framework to have bigger roles in the next book in this set or even his own spin off. Samuel also has a subtle complexity, and the stark contrast between the way he grew up and how Camille grew up adds another level to both characters. Ira plays a bigger role than either of these and is a huge source of humor throughout the book, as well as adds a lot to the progression of the plot. Ira just might be my favorite character from the way he talks and acts to the outrageous things he says and the way his mind seems to work.
Fantastic array of characters aside, the plot is also noteworthy. With several different elements and arcs, there is plenty to keep the reader interested throughout the book. Oscar and Camille’s romance is played out so true to the times (despite the engagement and yes, Camille does feel turmoil and guilt over that) and Frazier handles it splendidly. Though Randall, her fiance, is only present at the beginning, he holds a constant subtle presence throughout the book. The reader gets a brief glimpse at the two together at the start of the book, setting a certain tone throughout and also adds to the hintingly taboo nature of her feelings for Oscar. The search for the stone leads the pair through a variety of settings and introduces new characters and events to the book. Camille’s personality and the way she reacts to different settings is certainly portrayed, each one building on the last new reveal. With several plot twists that are hard to predict and told in an authentic voice, Everlasting is a great romantic adventure.
From housing to a street market to life on a boat, Frazier depicts every setting individually and with vivid detail. She pulls the character into the time and place and puts them right beside Camille. Believable reactions and a very beautiful prose also add to the overall nature of this book. Even for those who shy away from historical books, Everlasting is a great pick. Frazier doesn’t bog the reader with old time speak, add a certain modernized element but still keeps it in line with the time period. The ending ties up much of this book, letting it stand alone but leaves a few things lingering to lead into a second installment. Even if a second book doesn’t pan out, the reader simply has things to muse about, ensuring this book will stay with them.
Source: Finished copy received from author for review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (June 1, 2010)