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Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron - Review

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Where did I get it? My friend Lucinda bought it for me for my birthday and I decided to pick it up straight away because, along with my Christmas books, I want to read my birthday ones quickly instead of letting them languish on the bookshelf. 

What's it about? Brody is sixteen, gay, and lives in a tiny flat in Edinburgh with this mam, dad, older brother Jake and younger sister Keira. His dad is agoraphobic so can't work, his mum is a nurse and is working all shifts to try to make ends meet, but money is still really tight for the family. Brody feels invisible - Jake goes to a private school and is headed for Cambridge, so all their parents' attention goes to him. 

Brody is bullied by two girls at school, Leanne and Michelle. At the very beginning of the book, they've kidnapped his cat, Tinker Bell, and are teasing Brody. He (and Tink) are saved by a boy dangling out of a flat window. The boy is wearing huge blue wings, and he comes down to talk to Brody. His name is Nico and he invites Brody along to a meeting place at 11.21pm the following Thursday.

Brody sneaks out and heads there. He meets Nico and his friends Zahra and Kasia, and then something magical happens. A door opens up and when they pass through they're in a wonderful world called Everland. It's magic there, there's always something going on, there's markets to walk round, rivers, a library, parties to attend. There, Brody finally feels like he can be himself. He can drum with a band, he can wear costumes and make up. 

Kasia has experience of someone staying in Everland, and she warns Brody to be careful, to think about when he'll never come back again, but Brody is falling in love with Nico, his real life sucks, and Everland is so alluring...

I found this to be such a good book. I wasn't sure what I thought of it to begin with. I loved Everland, though. It sort of reminded me of the Enid Blyton books about the Magic Faraway Tree, where you were never sure what land would be at the top of the tree, and where you had limited time to leave, or get stuck. I'm not a big reader of fantasy but this was perfect - a contemporary setting with fantasy slipped in as if it was perfectly normal. I loved Brody a lot; I really felt for him and understood where he was coming from, but I also loved the cast of characters around too. I'm so glad Lucinda bought this for me because I probably wouldn't have picked it up for myself but I loved it. There's a lot about modern life, modern struggles, modern familes, but with this beautiful fantasy place - don't all struggling teens wish they had a place to escape to? 

What age range is it for? 13+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yeah, Brody is gay, although he's still closeted - except in Everland, and to his friend Megan. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, although it's not really a plot strand. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, Brody's dad is agoraphobic. I loved how this was portrayed: sensitively, realistically, painfully. Brody is often angry with his dad even though he knows it's not his fault, and I felt like this was incredibly well written and realistic. The reader understood why Dad was ill, and that he was ill and couldn't help it, but also felt for Brody too. I hope that makes sense - there's no shaming of Brody's dad being ill, it's understood that it's an illness like any other. Brody is very understanding, but does get frustrated sometimes, which is a symptom of every other shitty thing in his life. 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so, maybe a few mentions

Is there any talk of death? Some, it's not graphic. 

Are there swear words? A few 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none. I loved the world this was set in, I loved Brody and his family. The only thing I would say is that I wish Brody had confided in adults more - but that's because I'm an adult, not a teenager, I'm sure!

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. Even if you don't like fantasy, take a chance. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Like I said, I just wanted to read my birthday books soon! 

What do I think of the cover? It's cute isn't it! Pink and black is so eye catching, I love it! 

What other books is it like? It is for me like some unholy crossover of Alex in Wonderland and The Maze Runner (which I read before I started this blog). Obviously it's much less dystopian than The Maze Runner, but the existence of a world other than the one that the protagonist is in really seemed like it. Plus the door was only open once a week... it just had that vibe of this world and another, one which is unknown and confusing. 

How many stars? Five out of five. 

Where is the book going now? I will definitely keep it!

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