In Review: Spirit Animals, Book 7–The Evertree

An excellent conclusion with a surprising turn makes this perfect reading for those young enough to be carried away by fantasy.

Spirit Animals, Book 7–The Evertree by Marie Lu

Published by Scholastic, March 31, 2015. Hardcover of 188 pages at $12.99. Intended for ages 8 – 12, grades 3 – 7.

The cover: The four leads of the book stand with their spirit animals: Abeke with her leopard Uraza, Rollan stands in the back while Essix his hawk flies at the reader, Conor has Briggan the wolf beside him, and Meilin stands ready with a sword as Jhi the panda actually moves forward. Behind them is the Evertree that they are heading toward, though this is not revealed until more than halfway through the book. I like the light coming out from behind Essix and the tree, and the glowing green light coming from under the tree makes it powerful. Excellent cover illustration by Angelo Rinaldi, with cover design by SJI Associates, Inc. and Keirsten Geise. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the back cover, “Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan were once ordinary kids. Then they discovered that they had spirit animals — wise and powerful partners who granted them with amazing gifts…and a legendary responsibility. The team has journeyed across Erdas, racing to stop a merciless foe. They have laughed and fought together. They’ve won challenges and lost friends. Some have even lost themselves. Now that journey is about to end. They must reach a place forgotten by time and face off against an ancient enemy breaking free from his prison. They have just one chance to stop him…or the whole world will shatter.” This is the climax of this of this series and this summary sounds exactly like impending doom for our heroes unless they’re successful. I’ve read a few of these books and enjoyed them, so I’m interested to see how this winds up. Overall grade: A

The characters: Three of the leads begin in the most depressing state after the events of the previous book. Conor has been haunted by nightmares, while Abeke and Rollan just don’t know if their call for other Greencloaks will get back to them in time. Conor gets the most to do in this final installment. There are several scenes from his point of view, plus the nightmares he’s having turn out to be a major plot point. Rollan also gets a few chapters devoted to him because Essix is the one character that go ahead of everyone else and steer clear of danger. Abeke really gets the short stick, with even Uraza not being summoned until the climax. Meilin has a key scene in the beginning, but that’s to bring new readers (or remind old ones) up to speed with what happened in Book 6. The most impressive of the animals was Jhi, who actually does something, rather than stay back during a fight. He’s been the most frustrating of the animals to root for and there was finally some payoff. There’s also the welcome return of supporting character Kalani, who can only be utilized with her sea spirit animal, and she is needed in this book. There are two villains in play: Shane, who devastatingly was revealed as a major baddie in the last book, and Kovo, the great spirit animal who seeks to undo the world. Shane is a terrific foe for these young heroes, and I enjoyed every page he was on. There is a moment, that was expected, where he tells one of the characters his backstory in the hopes of being granted mercy, but readers will be telling the heroes not to trust that liar. Kovo is the uber-villain of the piece and is involved in a dramatic battle at the end of the piece, but not much beyond that. Overall grade: A 

The settings: Stetriol is the main setting of this book, and it’s not a happy place. Supposedly it’s the land where Kovo was imprisoned and it’s where the Greencloaks believe Shane to be taking all the animal totems he’s stolen. The trip there is deadly for all creatures in the water, as the closer the heroes get by ship the more it harms them, and the black water is to be feared. Once ashore, the group is greeted by those who’ve been displaced by the Conquerors, and further along they come among people who don’t like strangers, fearing they are Conquerors come to claim more of their supplies. This was a terrific, believable land that makes a readers go out to the victims and the heroes’ quest. There is one final location where the climax occurs that was fantasy perfect. I won’t spoil what it is or what it looks like, but it was excellent. Overall grade: A+

The action: There’s a building threat of danger the closer the company gets to Stetriol. Once there threats come in the form of orphans, the environment, hunger, and final the mass of Conquerors and Shane with a surprising new ally. Whenever the animals are involved it’s a major battle and there are a few skirmishes until leading to the big battle at the end, which was unexpected and spectacular. Overall grade: A

The conclusion: Excellent ending with not everyone emerging unscathed by the battle. I actually felt a little sad knowing that this would be my last adventure with these characters. This was not your normal fantasy conclusion. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I don’t know how much one would enjoy this book if the previous six novels hadn’t been read, but, having read most of them, this was good. An excellent conclusion with a surprising turn makes this perfect reading for those young enough to be carried away by fantasy. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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