Monday, October 3, 2011

Forever, Book 3

Title: Forever
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication: July 12th, 2011

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.

Chris' Review:

On the whole I think this was an excellent series that I highly recommend, but to me, Forever falls far short of its predecessors both as an individual story and especially as a series finale.

As this is the third and final book in the series, I'm loathe to give a synopsis because it would potentially contain spoilers for the books that come before it. Thus, this will have to do: Forever is about werewolves, but not your typical werewolves. I would hazard to guess that you've never seen werewolves like these before (unless of course you've read the first two books!). The story focuses on three particular werewolves and their various interpersonal relationships. Pretty lame, huh. Yeah, well, that's all you get, read the series!

Having read and reviewed the first two installments (my review of Shiver is here and of Linger is here), I don't have anything new to say about Maggie's writing mechanics. I will reiterate that she is a very good writer who does a masterful job of straddling the line between descriptive narrative and purple prose. Her style is both fluid and mature (which is great to see out of a YA author).

I will not get into a full discussion of the split narrative here as I spoke about it a little bit in my review of Shiver and at length in my review of Linger, but I will point to Forever, as a prime example of the style's inherent short comings.

Click here to view Spoiler:

It didn't matter as much in Shiver, because there was no conflict in Sam and Grace's feelings for each other, but in Forever, as in Linger, we see thru the eyes of both Isabelle and Cole as their relationship develops. As we alternate in and out of their head space, we see that both like each other quite a bit, which lessens the romantic tension between the two. Maggie has handled the situation deftly enough that the romance between the two is not wrecked, however, there isn't much suspense as they both clearly want to be with each other.

Things that I have complained about in the other books are still present in this book. Not the least of which is gender confusion. I think, Maggie did a better job with this aspect in Linger than she did in Shiver, but it returns again in full measure her in Forever. Sam has consistantly been the girlie boy from the get go, but Cole is much more affected in this book than he was in the last. I am NOT going to cite specific examples at this time because I am plannning an essay which will focus on the difficulties of authors creating convincing characters of the opposing gender. This series of books will feature heavily in that piece.

If Forever is more of the same, why three stars instead of four? Well, to start, this one dragged a bit more than the others did. It seems to be a fairly common complaint, that this one was slow to get started, and I appear to be in the majority (for a change) in that I feel the same way.

Where I appear to be in the minority is that, I didn't feel that this book had the same emotional impact as the earlier ones did. Spoilers inbound!

Click to view Spoiler :

Isabelle's loss of her brother, Jack, and her feelings of responsibility for it, in Shinver, connected with me on a primal level. Nearly identically, I felt for Cole at the loss of Victor. While Cole was not the one who shot Victor, certainly he had a very active role in placing Victor in the path of the bullet. While we have the deaths of Olivia and Beck in Forever, neither hit me as hard. Olivia because we hardly knew her and Beck because Maggie has spent the last two books slowly revealing his darker side. It's not that I didn't like Beck. I did. And I do feel for Sam, but I pretty much expected Beck to die once we discoverd his duplicity in Sam's infection with the virus. It's an old storyline really, wherein the scales have to be balanced.

Perhaps a bigger contributor to my less than powerful reaction over Beck's death however was the manner in which it came. To me it was very difficult to believe that Shelby, in her wolf form and operating almost exclusively on instinct, would have taken that particular moment to turn on Beck. Helicopter thundering away and the pack in a panic. Her animal mind should have been focused more on survival than opportunity.

Another major flaw I had with Forever, was the ending. Potential ground work for a possible fourth book aside, what happens in the climax doesn't make alot of sense. Can't say more without spoilers, soooooo...

Click to view Spoiler:

First off, there is no way that once the shooting started ANYONE would have had to lead the wolves to the safety of the nearby forest. Instinct would have done that without Sam having to charge to the front and lead them there.

Beside that, I had a nearly impossible time seeing Sam as an alpha wolf. He simply doesn't have an alpha personality. Cole? Probably. Grace? Probably. Isabelle? Not a wolf, but without a doubt! Sam? Nope, not working for me. Yes, the whole packed loved him, but that's not how wolves function.

The whole thing is moot, however, because simply getting them to the trees would not be enough. If it were, they would never have been in any danger to begin with. They already lived in a forest. The problem was the people that wanted to kill them knew where the pack was. Know what? At the end of this book, those same people that wanted to kill them, are still very much alive, have had no apparent change of heart, and know exactly where the wolves can be found since they watched them run into the new forest.

Someone will certainly scream "Private property!" but I'm not buying it. IF (I say IF because I thought this was a dubious proposition to begin with) the wolves were enough of a hazard to life and limb to have a special law pass for their irradication, public safety would have demanded that the hunt continue whether on private property or not.

In the end, the final event doesn't really resolve the major situation presented in this book, or the culmination of the series as a whole. Oh well, we at least get a relatively happy ending.

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1 comment:

LoriStrongin said...

Hey there, new reader here!

I actually love this whole series, though now that I read your review, I can definitely see where you're coming from. The points you make about the added plotlines/POVs taking away from Sam and Grace's story make a lot of sense in retrospect.

Thanks for the insight!