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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Ever Upward by George Sirois is the second book in the Excelsior Journey series. Matthew once lived a normal life until everything changed and he became the savior of another planet as the hero Excelsior. Saving the planet was a success but the win is short-lived when Denab IV begins experiencing side effects. Matthew learns that it was all his fault when he chose to keep a connection with Earth. To save the planet once again, Matthew will have to make a decision that could come with the ultimate sacrifice: saying good-bye to those he loves on Earth. With Denab IV vulnerable, Matthew/Excelsior also faces another threat to the planet as Hodera is on the rise with a new army and a deadly foe grows in power.
The story picks up after the events of book one where Matthew discovered the truth of Excelsior and saved the planet of Denab IV. Ever upward is a theme throughout as a mantra for the characters on Denab IV as a chant to keep moving forward, which plays into the plot as Matthew faces his own struggle to move forward. Matthew was once ordinary until he discovered he was part of an amazing legend and brought Excelsior back to Denab IV where the people had waited for his return. Matthew struggles with a more human perspective as he faces the guilt of what he did. The consequences of it shake the image of him as a hero in the eyes of the people, which adds to his insecurity as he believes everything he does eventually screws up. The pull between the two worlds grows only stronger as you see his connection to those on Denab IV and his family on Earth. The choice between the two is at the heart of the story, but the other dangers Denab IV faces is another step in Matthew's journey as he once again has to face Hodera. Sivtra is an important character in the rise of Hodera as all he wants is to become an assassin and is working to prove himself, which is a reflection of Matthew's own struggle to prove himself. Ever Upward continues to expand on this exciting mythology through adventure and action which finds Matthew on the next stage of his heroic journey as he searches to find himself as a hero.