Cover image for Neverworld wake / Marisha Pessl.
Neverworld wake / Marisha Pessl.

First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, [2018]

Physical Description:
327 pages ; 22 cm
"A group of teens who all attended the same elite prep school reunite a year after graduation. After a night on the town, the teens are faced with an impossible choice--only one of them can live and the decision must be unanimous"-- Provided by publisher.


Library Branch
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
1 Bob Harkins Branch PES Book Teen Collection

On Order



Five friends. Only one can survive the Neverworld Wake. Who would you choose?

From the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics and Night Film comes an absorbing psychological suspense thriller in which fears are physical and memories come alive.

"A thriller that will grip readers from the start." --Hypable

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim--their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend--changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft--the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world--hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim's death.

But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she's never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions.

Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers . . . and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

" Brilliantly creepy . . . . A mystery within a mystery." -- The New York Times

"A truly eerie reading experience." -- Nylon

"The first must-read of beach season." -- Town & Country

"A dark and twisty tale brimming with psychological suspense ." --Bustle

Author Notes

Marisha Pessl is the author of Night Film and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize (now the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize) and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review . Pessl grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and currently resides in New York City.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Beatrice Hartley, 19, has spent the past year distancing herself from her four best friends after the mysterious death of her boyfriend, Jim, in their senior year. With summer ending and the former friends gathering to celebrate a birthday, Bee decides to find out what they know. The reunion doesn't go as expected, and a near-fatal drunk-driving accident brings the teens into the Neverworld, a place between life and death, where they live the same day over and over again until they can agree on who gets to survive. Caught between trying to save her life and solving the mystery surrounding Jim's death, Bee discovers that everyone has a devastating secret. Bestselling adult writer Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics) adeptly creates a compelling nightmare world while maintaining a foothold in realism and providing many wholly unexpected developments. She doesn't shy away from painting her characters as deeply flawed, allowing their choices in the Neverworld to show who they truly are. Thought-provoking and suspenseful, Pessl's YA debut delves into questions of whether even close friends are truly knowable. Ages 12-up. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

LET ME SET THE SCENE: It's a hot summer night and you're in bed with a book. The window is open - sometimes a reader needs to hear crickets - and the room is bright enough so you can make out words on the page but not so bright that you can see what's in the shadows behind the closet door. You're looking for a little scare, just enough to raise goose bumps on the back of your neck. Three new books fit the bill. Kate Alice Marshall's I am still alive (VIKING, 336 PP„ $17.99; AGES 12 AND UP) may be the grand poobah of this season's young adult thriller category, giving suspense pros like Lois Duncan and Stephen King a run for their (abundant) money. This tense wire of a novel thrums with suspense, but also unexpectedly poignant moments. It opens like this: "I'm alone. I don't have much food. The temperature is dropping. No one is coming for me." Jess Cooper is writing in a notebook. She's 16 years old, marooned in a remote corner of Alaska, where she was sent to live with her father after her mother died in a car accident. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Jess hardly knew her father and that she's still recovering from her own injuries (both psychic and physical) from the wreck that killed her mother. Yes, this is a lot to absorb, but Marshall metes out the bad news gracefully. One has the sense that she knows her audience well; "I Am Still Alive" is bound to appeal to the same tragedy-thirsty teenagers who made "The Fault in Our Stars" a phenomenon. Not surprisingly, Jess doesn't take kindly to her father's isolated, rugged way of life: Think "Into the Wild" meets "The Call of the Wild." She makes the best of it, as teenagers in novels do. (If only they were so adaptable in real life.) But then she receives yet another megadose of misfortune when three men arrive at the encampment and kill her dad, torching his cabin and most of his supplies. This is when the chilly spine of Marshall's story really becomes visible. And I do mean chilly. Alone, scared, baffled, Jess knows she will have to fight to survive as winter sets in. Her only company in this nightmare is her dad's dog, Bo, who immediately assumes the lifeline status of Tom Hanks's volleyball in "Castaway." (Who can forget that moment when Wilson bobs out to sea?) Luckily, in the few short weeks Jess spent with her dad, she paid close attention to his tips for navigating the wilderness: "Smart, not strong" and shelter before fire. First, she locates a rock overhang to sleep under. Then she takes stock of her dad's charred possessions - an ax blade, a few jars, a first-aid kit and a rope - and finds a way to put each to good use. Little by little, with many setbacks (some of them life-threatening), she builds a life for herself in the land her father loved. There are small triumphs, too - all the sweeter for having been accomplished against the odds: Jess catches her first fish, builds her first fire and weaves a scrim of hardy vines to protect herself from the elements. From her very first night alone, determination fuels Jess's recovery efforts: She wants revenge on the men who killed her father. She knows they'll be back - and so she waits, and strategizes, and cultivates an inner strength that is both remarkable and believable. From the pen of this brave young woman: "To survive you need to learn to hold contradictory things in your head at the same time. I am going to die; I am going to live." Finding out how she does this and what happens next just might be the highlight of your summer. Marisha Pessl's young adult debut, nevERWORLD WAKE (DELACORTE, 324 PP„ $18.99; ages 12 and up), takes us to a different kind of scary place. Not the remote tundra but a creepy mansion, the stuff of the ghostliest of ghost stories. Welcome to Wincroft, a hulking red brick and slate mansion on the Rhode Island coast, with "crow gargoyles perched forever on the roof." This is the hub and gathering spot of a tight-knit group of boarding school friends - or it was until one of them, Jim, died tragically, under mysterious circumstances. Our tour guide through Pessl's beautifully creepy world is Beatrice "Bee" Hartley, who is Jim's grieving girlfriend. We join her as she's returning to Wincroft for the first time in a year, determined to get answers from her friends about his death. The homecoming is bittersweet - a year might as well be a century when you're just out of high school, and Bee has a lot of catching up to do. But the reunion festivities are interrupted by a knock on the door: an old man, appearing out of the blue (no car, completely dry despite the rainstorm howling around him). And the man has a strange announcement: "You're all dead." What happens next is a mystery within a mystery - the question mark of Jim wrapped around a sci-fi head-scratcher - with tragic consequences. Fan's of Pessl's adult novels ("Special Topics in Calamity Physics," "Night Film") will recognize her trademarks: highly stylized dialogue â la "Dawson's Creek" and long, meandering sentences that may make the middle-aged reader wonder if she has attention-deficit disorder. But no matter. Pessl still weaves an old-fashioned yarn that makes you want to grab a friend's hand and inch a little bit closer to the campfire. Finally, for a crowd still getting their feet wet with thrillers, there's Sarah Jane's MAIDEN VOYAGE (SCHOLASTIC, 256 PP„ PAPER, $9.99; ages 12 and up), a clever, fast-paced retelling of the voyage of the Titanic through the eyes of three girls traveling under vastly different circumstances. (One is a servant, one is a pampered daughter of a wealthy man and the third is somewhere between the two, in addition to being betwixt and between in life.) Many readers of "Maiden Voyage" will not yet have seen the movie "Titanic." But even young disaster aficionados who know the fate of the boat will find themselves wrapped up in the stories of Isabella, Lucy and Abby. Each has her own secret and her own heartbreak; two are traveling alone (well, mostly) and all three are somehow alone in the world. That is, until they learn how the three of them are connected, which is the stuff Disney movies are made of. Bonus for the educationally minded: Jane pulls off the unusual feat of being both suspenseful and informative, gracefully incorporating technical details about the boat into high-drama scenes. As for what happens after the iceberg: We'll leave that for the kids to find out. ? Jess must hold contradictory ideas in her head at the seime time: 'I am going to die; I am going to live.' Elisabeth egan is the books editor at Glamour and the author of the novel "A Window Opens."



I hadn't spoken to Whitley Lansing--or any of them--in over a year.   When her text arrived after my last final, it felt inevitable, like a comet tearing through the night sky, hinting of fate.    Too long. WTF. #notcool. Sorry. My Tourette's again. How was your freshman year? Amazing? Awful?   Seriously. We miss you.   Breaking the silence bc the gang is heading to Wincroft for my bday. The Linda will be in Mallorca & ESS Burt is getting married in St. Bart's for the 3rd time. (Vegan yogi.) So it's ours for the weekend. Like yesteryear.   Can you come? What do you say Bumblebee?   Carpe noctem.       Seize the night.   She was the only girl I knew who surveyed everybody like a leather-clad Dior model and rattled off Latin like it was her native language.   "How was your exam?" my mom asked when she picked me up.   "I confused Socrates with Plato and ran out of time during the essay," I said, pulling on my seat belt.   "I'm sure you did great." She smiled, a careful look. "Anything else we need to do?"   I shook my head.   My dad and I had already cleared out my dorm room. I'd returned my textbooks to the student union to get the 30 percent off for next year. My roommate had been a girl from New Haven named Casey who'd gone home to see her boyfriend every weekend. I'd barely seen her since orientation.   The end of my freshman year at Emerson College had just come and gone with the indifferent silence usually reserved for a going-out-of-business sale at a mini-mall.   "Something dark's a-brewin'," Jim would have told me.           I had no plans all summer, except to work alongside my parents at the Captain's Crow.   The Captain's Crow--the Crow, it's called by locals--is the seaside cafe and ice cream parlor my family owns in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, the tiny coastal village where I grew up.   Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Population: You Know Everyone.   My great-grandfather Burn Hartley opened the parlor in 1885, when Watch Hill was little more than a craggy hamlet where whaling captains came to shake off their sea legs and hold their children for the first time before taking off again for the Atlantic's Great Unknowns. Burn's framed pencil portrait hangs over the entrance, revealing him to have the mad glare of some dead genius writer, or a world explorer who never came home from the Arctic. The truth is, though, he could barely read, preferred familiar faces to strange ones and dry land to the sea. All he ever did was run our little dockside restaurant his whole life, and perfect the recipe for the best clam chowder in the world.   All summer I scooped ice cream for tan teenagers in flip-flops and pastel sweaters. They came and went in big skittish groups like schools of fish. I made cheeseburgers and tuna melts, coleslaw and milk shakes. I swept away sand dusting the black-and-white-checkered floor. I threw out napkins, ketchup packets, salt packets, over‑21 wristbands, Del's Frozen Lemonade cups, deep-sea fishing party boat brochures. I put lost cell phones beside the register so they could be easily found when the panic-stricken owners came barging inside: "I lost my . . . Oh . . . thank you, you're the best!" I cleaned up the torn blue tickets from the 1893 saltwater carousel, located just a few doors down by the beach, which featured faded faceless mermaids to ride, not horses. Watch Hill's greatest claim to fame was that Eleanor Roosevelt had been photographed riding a redhead with a turquoise tail sidesaddle. (It was a town joke how put out she looked in the shot, how uncomfortable and buried alive under her plate-tectonic layers of ruffled skirt.)   I cleaned the barbecue sauce off the garbage cans, the melted Wreck Rummage off the tables (Wreck Rummage was every kid's favorite ice cream flavor, a mash‑up of cookie dough, walnuts, cake batter, and dark chocolate nuggets). I Cloroxed and Fantasticked and Mr. Cleaned the windows and counters and doorknobs. I dusted the brine off the mussels and the clams, polishing every one like a gemstone dealer obsessively inspecting emeralds. Most days I rose at five and went with my dad to pick out the day's seafood when the fishing boats came in, inspecting crab legs and fluke, oysters and bass, running my hands over their tapping legs and claws, barnacles and iridescent bellies. I composed song lyrics for a soundtrack to a made‑up movie called Lola Anderson's Highway Robbery, drawing words, rhymes, faces, and hands on napkins and take-out menus, tossing them in the trash before anyone saw them. I attended grief support group for adolescents at the North Stonington Community Center. There was only one other kid in attendance, a silent boy named Turks whose dad had died from ALS. After two meetings he never returned, leaving me alone with the counselor, a jittery woman named Deb who wore pantsuits and wielded a three-inch-thick book called Grief Management for Young People.   " 'The purpose of this exercise is to construct a positive meaning around the lost relationship,' " she read from chapter seven, handing me a Goodbye Letter worksheet. " 'On this page, write a note to your lost loved one, detailing fond memories, hopes, and any final questions.' "   Slapping a chewed pen that read tabeego island resorts on my desk, she left. I could hear her on the phone out in the hall, arguing with someone named Barry, asking him why he didn't come home last night.   I drew a screeching hawk on the Goodbye Letter, with lyrics to a made‑up Japanese animated film about a forgotten thought called Lost in a Head.   Then I slipped out the fire exit and never went back.   I taught Sleepy Sam (giant yawn of a teenager from England visiting his American dad) how to make clam cakes and the perfect grilled cheese. Grill on medium, butter, four minutes a side, six slices of Vermont sharp cheddar, two of fontina. For July Fourth, he invited me to a party at a friend of a friend's. To his shock, I actually showed. I stood by a floor lamp with a warm beer, listening to talk about guitar lessons and Zach Galifianakis, trying to find the right moment to escape.   "That, by the way, is Bee," said Sleepy Sam. "She does actually speak, I swear."   I didn't mention Whitley's text to anyone, though it was always in the back of my mind.           It was the brand-new way-too-extravagant dress I'd bought but never taken out of the bag. I just left it there in the back of my closet, folded in tissue paper with the receipt, the tags still on, with intention of returning it.   Yet there was still the remote possibility I'd find the courage to put it on.   I knew the weekend of her birthday like I knew my own: August 30.   It was a Friday. The big event of the day had been the appearance of a stray dog wandering Main Street. It had no tags and the haunted look of a prisoner of war. He was gray, shaggy, and startled with every attempt to pet him. A honk sent him skidding into the garbage cans behind the Captain's Crow.   "See that yellow salt-bed mud on his back paws? That's from the west side of Nickybogg Creek," announced Officer Locke, thrilled to have a mystery on his hands, his first of the year.   That stray dog had been the talk all that day--what to do with him, where he'd been--and it was only much later that I found my mind going back to that dog drifting into town out of the blue. I wondered if he was some kind of sign, a warning that something terrible was coming, that I should not take the much-exalted and mysterious Road Less Traveled, but the one well trod, wide-open, and brightly lit, the road I knew.   By then it was too late. The sun had set. Sleepy Sam was gone. I'd overturned the cafe chairs and put them on the tables. I'd hauled out the trash. And anyway, that flew in the face of human nature. No one ever heeded a warning sign when it came. Excerpted from Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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