Forever by Maggie StiefvaterJuly 12, 2011: Scholastic, Inc.
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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Whelmed. This word that's not a word is the best description for my feelings at the conclusion of Forever. Not overwhelmed. Not underwhelmed. Just whelmed.
I'll start with why I'm not raving about the book. It dragged. For the first 100 pages, nothing much happened. Sam sulked. Grace was a wolf and then a human and then a wolf. Isabel complained. Cole came up with risky experiments and tried them on himself. Isabel's father was trying to get authorization to shoot at the wolves from helicopters (which sounds crazy but has actually happened). With the exception of Cole, it was all talk.
The book picked up after page 150 or so - halfway through. The helicopter shoot was on and Isabel, Cole, Sam, and Grace had to race to save the wolves. Then lots happened. It wasn't a page turner, but there was a definable plot and finally some action. New characters become important. We revisited old ones. Relationships improved. Relationships broke down. The book is meant to tear at your emotions, to make you cry. To my surprise, I didn't sob at this book. There's one point were I was misty-eyed, but I never completely broke down.
The previous two paragraphs make you think that I didn't like the book. But that's not true. I loved Forever. When I finished Forever, I thought it deserved 4 out of 5 stars. But Forever is a slow-burning book. It gets its claws in you and doesn't let go. In the five days since finishing the book, I've thought about it again and again and re-read certain parts numerous times. It doesn't make me cry, but every time I think about it, my chest tightens and I can't focus on anything else. For all its slowness, it's captured my heart and I lean more towards 4.5 out of 5.
I can't quantify why exactly Forever touched me so much. Largely, I think it's Maggie's writing. It's cold and stark. Stand-offish in a way. But beautiful. Her prose doesn't just tell you what's going on. It makes you feel it. When Grace is a wolf, you're on four legs running alongside her. When Isabel is angry, you're furious too. There's very little humor in this book, except for the occasional sarcastic remark. I like that there was no attempt to inject levity into a situation that isn't funny at all. Yes, it's angsty, but that's what I'm expecting.
I love the four characters. I admire Maggie for creating Isabel, a very difficult character to love because she's always mean. Yet I do love her. I see the beautiful person within and understand why she puts up the hard shell. I love Cole for his intelligence, the crazy risks he took, his passionate soul, his rough edges, and his leadership ability. He was the rock upon which the other characters stood. I love Sam for his emo angst, his lyrics and poetry quotations, his sad and happy childhood memories, his passionate love for Grace. Even though Grace is now a full werewolf, we still see her black-and-white, rational thought-process, her love for Sam, her role as the responsible organizer. I especially love that we spend time in wolves' heads. Maggie did a wonderful job in describing how a wolf would actually think, act, and move. I really admire her for making the characters into actual wolves, not just human minds in wolf bodies. It makes the book feel more real.
Forever is a beautiful conclusion to the trilogy. It's not the most engaging read, but I connected to the characters in a way I haven't done in most recent books. I loved the ending - closure with a little room for imagination. Perhaps the reason I didn't adore Forever is that it's not Shiver. Shiver was something really special and none of Maggie's other books have achieved that level of excellence. But Forever is a powerful, emotional book in its own right and a must read for anyone who loved Shiver and Linger.