If you like a book where several different story lines all come together at the end for a battle of good against evil, then is could be the book for you.
This is a really interesting story, once it gets going. Caroline is struggling to cope with life after being diagnosed with a mental breakdown. Basically, she sees dead people and can see people for what they really are. Lucy comes from a fortunate family, Maxine does not, but they find friendship with each other at their preppy school. Dayna struggles with addiction and depression and has to live with Wanda because she can’t afford a place of her own. Wanda plays the concerned roommate who is surrounded by beautiful things, but ends up showing Dayna some tough love when Dayna takes advantage of Wanda’s generosity. Charlie and Rose have been together for a very, very long time, like hundreds of years. He takes care of her – he gets her medication when needed, he buys her clothes that make her feel beautiful, and steals a youth that no one will miss just so that she can suck the life out of them and remain youthful herself. Paul is in a mental health facility run by nurses of stereotypical behaviors – the mean one, the nurturing one, the sweet one. He appears to have the same abilities as Caroline, and they discover each other when Caroline’s friend Michele signs her up for community service at the facility.
Meanwhile, young girls that no one seems to care about are disappearing. I knew eventually one of our characters had to disappear so that we could see what Charlie and Rose do to their victims. Charlie poses as a bar patron and takes Dayna one evening that she goes out to self medicate. Charlie drives her up to their rundown estate, where he binds Dayna to a chair and places her in Rose’s room near the window. Rose, appearing to be ancient looking, opens her mouth and drains the life from Dayna, making herself and Charlie youthful again while just discarding Dayna’s dried out body. Charlie and Rose find that their youth is not lasting as long as it used to, so they devise a plan to capture the girls that Charlie caught the sweet scent of earlier in the book, Maxine and Lucy. Lucy has run away and Maxine’s mom doesn’t care about her, so they are perfect victims. Charlie is about to kidnap Lucy when Caroline intervenes while trying to retrace Dayna’s steps from the night she went missing. Caroline sees Rose and Charlie for the monsters they really are and manages to get Lucy to safety. However, Maxine does not make out as well; Charlie kidnaps her from the school parking lot right in front of Lucy. No one at the school seems to notice this. Lucy manages to find Caroline again and tells her what has happened to Maxine. Caroline tracks Charlie and Rose down to the rundown estate outside of the city; Lucy finds Paul and helps him escape the hospital. Paul dies protecting Lucy from Charlie, but Lucy manages to make it up to the estate in time to help Caroline encounter Rose, who has sucked the life right out of the man who has been providing for her for eons. Lucy saves a drugged up Maxine while Caroline goes after Rose. However, without Charlie’s medication, Rose goes blind from cataracts and the inevitable light from a sunrise turns her to dust. All three survivors hug as the sun rises and evil has been banished.
Alexander Williams structures his book in a unique way. There are no chapters, just breaks in sections. Each section is supposed to come from a point of view from a different story line. It’s a bit confusing at first because the description doesn’t imply additional characters other than Caroline and the villains. There is Lucy and Maxine, Rose and Charlie, Caroline and Michele, Paul and the nurses, Dayna and Wanda. With only section breaks and not a clear point of view of each section, it was a little hard to keep track of each character and how they related to each other. My initial confusion could have been prevented by simply having a more accurate description on the back cover.
With so many integral characters and story lines, the first 200 pages are spent getting to know them and setting the stage for the darkness lurking in the night. The most interesting characters in the book are the villains, Charlie and Rose, and they have little to do with the first half of the book. I wanted to know more about their history – how did they come to be, what eras of time have they lived through, have they always lived in that house or did they live all over the world? When Paul is introduced as a Seer, I wondered if he had run into Charlie and Rose before. None of this is really explained in the book, but I really with it had been.
There are many unanswered questions: Does Caroline adopt Lucy and Maxine or do they all just return to their own horrible lives? Is there another evil couple out there? What happens with Wanda and with Michele? What happens to Paul’s special cat, who seems to be the character that ties everyone together? Does Caroline learn to control her abilities and does she have to use them again? How did the villains become evil and where did they come from? Are there more like them or were they the only ones, which seems unlikely?
Eternal Youth has a really good plot, but a structure that was not for me. There was not enough of the right back story and too much of the home lives of some of the characters. Even some of the characters could have been merged into fewer characters, making room for more encounters with Rose and Charlie, who are the most interesting part of the book. Perhaps there will be a prequel; I bet that would be really interesting!