I know you can't judge a book by it's cover, but I did, and I was way off on this one. I saw the latest novel by Gail Carson Levine, Ever, and I assumed that it was another fairy tale version by Gail Carson Levine (not that that's bad, I was really excited about it). I mean, look at the covers of her fairy tale adaptations; the covers are deliberately designed to match. This is probably not a problem for the average reader, but I have this weird habit of avoiding the publisher's summary because I hate having any of the plot spoiled.
At any rate, just so you don't make the same mistake, Ever is not a fairy tale adaptation, it is an original mythological story. It seemed to be vaguely middle eastern, but as far as I know it has a set of totally made up Gods and Goddesses that remind me a little of the Greek Gods. The novel starts out following the youngest God, Olus, the 17 year-old Akkan God of the winds. Olus is lonely because he's so much younger than all of the other Gods. His parents hesitantly agree to let him temporarily live among Humans but warn him that he will not fit in and find happiness among them. Of course, Olus has to learn that the hard way when he makes a new friend and decides he can confide in his friend that he is actually a God, which terrifies the human and his family. Olus learns to hide who he truly is in order to live among mortals.
He flits from one job to the next until he settles on being a goat-herd and spies Kezi, the beautiful daughter of his wealthy landlord. Altough he only watches Kezi from afar he quickly falls in love with her and he watches her dance and artfully weave her rugs. Tragedy strikes when Kezi's mother falls ill and her father Pleads to Admat (the only God Kezi's family believes in). He pledges that if Admat will heal his wife, he will sacrifice the first human who congratulates him on his wife's recovery. Kezi mother does indeed recover, and Kezi is horror struck when her beloved aunt tries to congratulate her father. She quickly intervenes and congratulates him before her aunt has a chance. Of course both parents are full of sorrow, but they fear Admat too much to betray their promise. Kezi submits herself to her destiny to be sacrficed, but she prays to Admat to let her live for 30 more days.
In the meantime Kezi, meets Olus and begins to fall in love with him. She suspects he's a magician, and has a hard time believing he is a God because she only believes in one God, Admat. Olus doesn't know if Admat is real because none of the Gods he knows have even heard of Admat, but he joins Kezi on a quest to help her overcome her parents' pledge to sacrifice her without angering Admat.
See, that was not the fairytale that I was expecting, although Kezi's father did remind me of King Midas losing his beloved daughter when he got his wish. Overall, I found the setup and plot interesting (parts of it were admittedly a little hard for me to buy into (warkis, people who slowly become covered with knitted feathers and eat dirt, etc.), but what I really struggled with was trying to figure out what Levine was trying to say about faith and religion. It really bothered me that the Gods showed no interest in humans, and Kezi's reasons for doubting her faith kept growing. In the end I'm still not sure what the point of it all was. Did anyone else feel that way?
All in all I'd rate this an interesting book, but Ella Enchanted remains my favorite Gail Carson Levine book by far!