10 October 2011

Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Forever is the final book in Maggie Stiefvater's the Wolves of Mercy trilogy. This review assumes you've read the first two books, but isn't all that spoilery.

Forever, like the earlier novels, is told through the eyes of the major characters--in this case, Grace, Sam, Isobel, and Cole. The technique gives us a fairly well rounded view of the wolves, the town of Mercy, the Boundary Wood, and the local citizens. The use of alternating narrators can be jarring, but not in Stiefvater's hands. One of the keys is that each new narrator starts from exactly where the last one ended; thus, although there is a shift in point of view, there is no shift in time and rarely a shift in place.

There are two levels of crises in Forever: individual and community. All four young adults are in turmoil--emotionally or physically or both. As well, the town of Mercy is reaching the end of its tolerance for the wolves of the Boundary Wood, and trouble is brewing.

In what seems the cruelest fate, Grace has finally succumbed to her childhood wolf bite, meaning she is forced to spend the rest of the winter in the woods as a wolf, while Sam is left at home to worry about her survival. Of course, Grace's disappearance does not go unnoticed, and her parents and the police search for evidence to pin on Sam. The problem is, they can't figure out what exactly happened to the girl: Is she a runaway? Has she been kidnapped? Brainwashed? Killed? Sam can't tell the authorities the truth and feels very alone in his fear of prosecution.

In the meantime, Cole works hard to find a cure for the wolf virus, using himself as his major experimental subject. His efforts are not always successful, and Sam and Isobel try to cope with the sometimes terrifying results. And poor Isobel, the only outsider to know the exact nature of the local wolves, is left in limbo. What is she to think of them, considering her brother was killed by pack members just a few months back?

Isobel's other burden is her father, who is spearheading an initiative that will legalize the destruction of the wolves. If the state agrees, sharp-shooters will have the right to use helicopters to chase the wolves into the open, where they can be easily gunned down. Isobel straddles the fence between her family and the wolves, hoping she never has to definitively pick sides.

Although the ultimate conclusion is foreshadowed, the complexity of the plot, the action scenes, and emotional tension among the characters will keep you turning the pages. My only complaint is that I would have like to have seen a bit more growth from both Sam and Isobel. Nevertheless, Forever is a satisfying end to the trilogy. I realize it's extremely unlikely there will be additional Grace and Sam books, but Stiefvater left a few doors open and could easily revisit Mercy. A reader can always dream, can't she?

As with the first two books, I both read and listened to Forever. The unabridged audio edition (Scholastic Audio, 12 hr, 16 min) was read by multiple readers: Jenna Lamia, Pierce Cravens, Dan Bittner, and Emma Galvin. All four narrators were believable, emotional, and easy to understand. The audio is a great way to read the novel.

This review will be linked to both Kid Konnection, hosted each Saturday by Julie from Booking Mama, and Murder, Monsters, and Mayhem, a month-long event hosted by Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelves.

Forever at Powell's
Forever at Book Depository
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Published by Scholastic Press, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780545259088
Source: Bought, both print and audio (see review policy)
Rating: B

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


bermudaonion 10/10/11, 9:15 AM  

This really isn't my kind of book, but I've been interested in this series ever since I heard Stiefvater read from Linger at SIBA last year. She was awesome and got me excited about the series.

Beth Kephart 10/10/11, 9:49 AM  

I understand the allure of Maggie S., and if anyone could draw me toward this sort of story, it would be her. She is a magical person herself, from what I can tell between the lines and on her blog.

Zibilee 10/10/11, 11:03 AM  

I just recently bought all three of these books after hearing how much everyone liked them. I have heard that others really liked the third book, and felt it was the best out of the bunch. I didn't realize how drawn I was to this genre until I picked up the Lost Saint trilogy. I was so surprised that I loved werewolves so much! I am even listening to The Last Werewolf right now as well. I am just very enthralled by them! Great review today. I am really glad you loved the book!

Sandy Nawrot 10/10/11, 12:30 PM  

Just ordered the first one on audio. I know, it's about time. My daughter read them and loved them all.

Beth Hoffman 10/10/11, 1:25 PM  

I've heard lots of good things about Maggie's writing, and though the subject matter isn't my usual cup of tea, I'm still considering adding this trilogy to my list.

Marg 10/10/11, 7:45 PM  

I am currently reading the first book in the series. I like it so far!

Melody 10/10/11, 7:58 PM  

I loved this series despite that I was still a bit stumped over the ending.

Nise' 10/10/11, 8:08 PM  

Yes, I am hopin' as I wanted more resolution.

Beth(bookaholicmom) 10/10/11, 8:36 PM  

This is not my usual type of read but after seeing so many rave reviews I had to get the books. I hope to read them very soon. I have been pleasantly surprised lately reading out of my usual genres.

Julie P. 10/11/11, 8:02 AM  

I don't know that I'm dying to read these books, but I feel like I should be...

Michelle 10/29/11, 6:18 PM  

I share the dream of revisiting this series again. I actually would love to see her come back to Cole and Isabel, I felt much of their relationship was left unexplored and unfinished. One of my favorite series going!

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