Thank you to the publisher who gifted me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Brody feels as though no one understands him; not his genius older brother, not his overworked parents and most certainly not the girls set on making his life a misery. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a place whose door only opens at 11:21pm each Thursday. Here is where Brody finds his people and some respite from a world where he feels out of place.
I should start this review by saying, be prepared with tissues when reading this book. Sophie Cameron has done it again and written a beautifully, captivating novel you will not want to put down. I had to give myself sometime after finishing this book to write the review because it was all I could think about and if I had written the review immediately it would have been a lot longer than this.
The Last Bus to Everland is set in Edinburgh, Scotland, as well as Everland, a magical Narnia-esque location. I love the way that Everland was brought into the story and I immediately had a vision of it in my head. Sophie Cameron is incredible at bringing fantasy elements into real-world settings. As someone who struggles with brand new fantasy worlds and getting my head around them, the way Sophie describes Everland makes this book easy to get into, even if you aren’t a big fantasy genre fan.
The Last Book to Everland is light in places whilst also delving deep into serious issues. One of the issues this book explores incredibly is poverty. Brody is part of a working-class family and this is made obvious from the start. Sophie Cameron doesn’t hide the hardships that Brody and his family are facing. I feel poverty is a topic that should be discussed more in YA books. It deals with parents working long shifts, struggling to pay pills, cutting back on food, cutting back on hobbies and more. The reactions of Brody and his family are intertwined with the magic of Everland throughout the story. It certainly feels like you are going through the struggles with Brody too.
This book also covers the issues of bullying and mental health, both in extraordinary ways. We follow Brody throughout all the emotions he feels whilst being bullied. This book doesn’t have Brody immediately have the strength to confront the bullies and I feel this is extremely realistic. Brody’s Dad suffers from a mental illness that I had never read about in a YA book before. It is extremely eye-opening to read, and I am glad that Sophie included this in the book.
I love the family relationships in this book. Any book with family playing a huge part in the storyline is a book I am interested in. There is both found family and biological family relationships and story arcs throughout this book. It was the family scenes throughout the book that made me cry the most.
I enjoyed that the romance throughout the book was incidental to the family relationships. The plot was never Nico saved Brody or Brody saved Nico. It was a lot more about how meeting Nico and everyone in Everland helped Brody become more comfortable in himself. I love reading plots like this especially in LGBTQ+ books as it makes me happy to see characters happy and content.
This book is heart-warming, heart-breaking, beautiful, magical and captivating. I cannot recommend this book enough. Sophie Cameron has done it once again and written a wonderful novel that will appeal to both fans of contemporary and fantasy YA.