Today’s featured review for Last Bus to Everland features a cool new “librarian’s perspective” format! I want my reviews to be as helpful as possible for secondary school librarians and English teachers. If you have any ideas of things I can add or tweak in future reviews, please email me or leave a note in the comments.
AUTHOR: Sophie Cameron
PUBLISHER: MacMillan Children’s Books
PUBLICATION DATE: May 16, 2019
SOURCE: Brooklyn Public Library OverDrive
GENRE: magical realism
SETTING: Edinburgh, Scotland and Everland
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS
Things have never been easy for 16-year old Brody Fair. His father’s agoraphobia has led to significant financial stress on Brody’s entire family. Dealing with mounting expenses, his mother works as much as she can, often picking up late and overnight hours. Brody is picked on at school, and stands solidly in his older brother’s shadow at home. One night, when Brody is chasing down bully neighbors who stole his cat Tinkerbell, a beautiful boy wearing blue fairy wings comes out of nowhere and saves Brody and Tinkerbell. The boy, Nico, tells Brody to meet him on Thursday at exactly 11:21 pm, where Brody enters Everland for the first time. In Everland, Brody can be anyone he wants to be. But Everland won’t stay open to Brody forever, and Brody has a decision to make. Couldn’t he just stay in Everland forever?
THE SHORT VERSION
Last Bus to Everland came with three starred reviews and a Goodreads rating well over 4.0. I actually kind of hate when this happens. I expect so much from books that get this amount of praise. And yes, Last Bus to Everland was good. But was it GREAT? Meh. Possibly I expected to much; I certainly do that sometimes.
WHAT I LIKED
Brody’s family problems felt very real and even a bit familiar to my own family situation as a teen. I felt terrible for Brody’s dad, who has battled agoraphobia for the last five years. Brody’s anger toward his dad is understandable, even though Brody recognizes that his dad suffers from a serious mental illness.
I loved all the costuming and art and color! When Brody, Nico, and others enter Everland every Thursday night, they wear elaborate homemade costumes. Those rich descriptions! Nico wears blue fairy wings in his first (and last) appearance in the story, a perfect complement to his character.
Dream-like descriptions of Everland are well-written, and readers couldn’t possibly miss the numerous references to Peter Pan. Originally, I thought Last Bus to Everland would be a Peter Pan retelling. While the references to Barrie’s classic appear regularly, Everland is entirely its own story.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Believable characters, colorful descriptions, and Peter Pan references aside, the book was overall a bit boring for me. I never felt compelled to read, nor did I ever feel any real suspense. The main conflict–Brody’s desire to escape into Neverland versus his responsibilities in the outside world–wasn’t a dilemma I really questioned, even though I loved the way it all ended.
WHAT DO LIBRARIANS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LAST BUS TO EVERLAND?
Themes: escapism, first love, homosexuality, toxic masculinity, extreme pressure to succeed, depression, agoraphobia, financial problems, family problems
Is it worth reading? Yes! Even though others seem to like it a lot more than I did, I still recommend it for anyone who loves magical realism, alternate realities, or Peter Pan.
Would I buy this book for my high school library? Yes! Plenty of students will identify with Brody’s family and financial woes, as well as Brody’s temptation to escape it all permanently. It’s a great choice for magical realism genre studies and discussion of harmful gender expectations in children and young adults.
Would I buy this book for my middle school library? I would buy this for my middle school library, but I think it might need some promotion through booktalking or displays. Middle school librarians should note that it contains a few F-bombs.
POTENTIAL CONTENT ISSUES:
Language: medium; includes sh*t and f*ck, but it’s not gratuitous
Sexuality: mild; M-M kissing, nothing explicit
Violence: very mild; bullying
Drugs/Alcohol: mild; a few references to characters being drunk or drinking alcohol. Drinking age in Scotland is 18, and the characters who drink are all 18.
BOOKTALK OR DISPLAY THIS WITH:
Are you also a Pan fan? I loved Never Never by Brianna Shrum! Recruiting a new “lost boy,” Peter Pan lures thirteen-year old James Hook into Neverland with lies and a broken promise. Unwilling to stay a child forever, James is the only “lost boy” to ever grow up. Read my full review of Never Never.
Have you read Last Bus to Everland? Do you think it lives up to all those starred reviews?