Friday, July 15, 2011

Review - FOREVER

Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3) - Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Paranormal
# of pages:
Recommended for
: HS & Beyond
Source: ARC from BEA

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stievater

In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

Before I wrote this review, I wanted to give myself time to really think about my reading experiences. Kind of like Mockingjay, I had to sit around and let my thoughts congeal a bit. Since the book's been out for a few days now and several diverse reviews are up and about, I figured it's time to weigh in. First and foremost, "thrilling" is not a word that I would use to describe the fist 250 pages...

Basically, I did not like this installment. More often than not it, was either a bore and a chore to get through. And I hate typing that! Shiver is still one of my favorite novels ever, and I did enjoy Linger, though not quite as much. This whole series and its progression really got me wondering at why it is that nearly EVERY non-contemp YA book is being turned into a trilogy/series, because with each book I felt a little less magic. A little less pizazz.

Why specifically did Forever not work for me? Well, first of all, it seemed overly dramatic in a way that - I thought - Shiver and Linger were not. If you are someone who thought that any of the first two books were slow or prone to melodrama (as I know that others have said), then in my opinion, you may find Forever challenging. Unlike most finale books in a series, it is not more fast-paced. In my opinion, it actually seemed slower. There were several periods throughout most of the chapters when the characters - especially Sam - would have these really long, drawn out personal reflections. Flashbacks would occur randomly, and I'd say for about the first 200 pages, the plot just kind of meandered along. Characters would drift in and out of contact, and oh the angst. Yeah, the series has always been dramatic, emotional too, but I never thought the angst was overdone until now. Sam - whom I absolutely adored in Shiver - just kind of moped around and really didn't do much of anything but feel sorry for himself. Cole sat around thinking about how his life used to be. Grace kept shifting and bolting. One or two times and it's dramatic, but four times? Then it just gets downright annoying, I'm sorry to say. In my playbook, that's repetition, not suspense or excitement.

For me, though, I could have forgotten the slow start and the aggravating parts but for the ending. Guys, when you hear the word "forever," what do you think of? Maybe if you're like me, you hear Squints from The Sandlot pulling out the word like "foooooorrreeeevvveeeerrrr" over and over (haha). But you think of something that has closure, right? Maybe? For me, it's a little close to false advertising when you've got the final book in a series titled something permanent sounding like Forever, and the said ending doesn't have a whole lot of closure. I get it, really I do. I get that it's bad to give teen characters any kind of "permanent closure," because after all, they're only 18, right? For me, though, it does not work to feed me a story, a fictional story (that really is not in the least bit obligated to reflect, endorse, or champion "reality") in which characters have this serious, mature, real-deal love...and then turn around and leave the ending open-ended. Did I expect the kind of ending that was found in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows? Well, maybe. And really, who knows better how to end a [modern] YA series than JK Rowing?
I also kind of took issue with the last chapter in general, really. Grace, to me, made a decision that seemed extremely out-of-character for her, given her relationship and previous history with Sam. All I'm wanting is for a series ending to accurately reflect the series as a whole, and here, it was my perception that the author pulled back a little and went with a more "realistic" ending. And that just didn't work for me in a series like this.

I realize that was a really long, lengthy (and highly opinionated) explanation, but I do feel like I need to explain what it was that left me disappointed.

As always, though, I enjoyed reading Maggie's beautiful, stylistic prose. Being a storyteller doesn't automatically mean being gifted with words, per see, but Maggie is definitely talented in both departments. I wish Forever had turned out differently, but I still regard Shiver as one of my favorite Young Adult novels. And I absolutely refuse to give this rating any lower than 3 1/2 because of the high quality of writing. It is still my belief that the content (specifically brief strong language and sexual content) in this series, as well as the overall maturity and age level of the main characters, makes The Wolves of Mercy Falls ideal for high school and beyond readers.

Final Rating

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