Friday, July 1, 2011

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

This was probably the book I was most excited to get an advanced copy of at ALA. This sounds a little dumb because the actual book comes out in 12 days . So, I pretty much only got it two and a half weeks early. Though, I guess getting any book for free is more money in my pocket because we have already noted my severe book-spending problem. Why do I have a book-spending problem if I volunteer in a library? I don’t know…I also have library books that I really should read before any more ARC’s/newbies I just got, but we shall have to see.
Any way, I zipped through this book like it was Harry Potter. I put this series on my Twilight Betterthans list earlier because well it will appeal to Twilight series fans, and it is better. I loved her first book. The second book was not as good, mostly because it felt like that standard YA-Book-2-transition-book (the one before the big one) and it had a really big cliffhanger ending. This book did not disappoint. It was filled with love, wolf chase scenes, drama, death, family, character development, and endings.
It begins months after Book 2 ended. In book 2, Grace left her dying bed in the hospital in a very dramatic wolf transformation. And this book (3) was all about the role reversal. Grace used to have to deal with Sam’s painful transformations. She had to watch as he suffered. She had to wait for him to keep coming back. She had to keep him from getting too cold, and hope for a longer summer. Now, it’s Sam’s turn to do the warming, the waiting, and the watching. And in a way, it was more painful to read because Sam is so poetic. The book is loaded with German poetry and stanzas of songs about loss. Grace is known for being the logical, straight forward character, and it’s interesting to see that side of her even as a wolf. These books first got my interest in the guy/girl character shifts, and this last book in the trilogy took this wonderful writing style several steps further with the wolf sections, and the role reversal. It was just so well put together. There were moments where I literally stopped reading to breathe and take in what Stiefvater did with these character shifts.
There’s one line in the book, when Sam and Cole (disappeared rock star/new best friend) manage to bring back their father figure, Beck, from being a permanent wolf for only several minutes, so they can get his help. And Sam manages to sum up the book rather nicely for Beck, saying, “What did I say, in ten minutes? There were a thousand things that needed to be said. That I didn’t know how to help Grace, now that she was a wolf. That Olivia had died, the police were watching me, Cole holds our fates in vials, what do we do, how do we save ourselves, how do I be Sam when winter means the same things as the summer?”
Throughout the book, Cole works on a “cure” for the wolves, Isabel and Cole develop a relationship (and oh yeah, the point of view sometimes goes to these other outstanding, well developed characters too), and things get very political. Isabel’s father (who lost his son to the wolves, though not in the way he thinks) manages to legally allow an aerial hunting party to go after the wolves in the area. He does this after another girl is found dead, and the town needs to do something. Sam, Cole, Isabel, and Grace (who keeps going back and forth between human and wolf) need to figure out a way to save the wolves (who aren’t exactly even wolves) from being massacred. The ending chapters read like an action movie, and of course Grace is a wolf out in the woods when the hunting begins…
The ending was beautiful, if not exactly completely believable. Stiefvater leaves it a little open-ended, almost as though she is saying, “Yes, this is a trilogy, but I could totally come back to this open ending one day.” I did feel like it ended a little too abruptly. I kept looking for more because so much happened to lead up the end, so much description, so much hold up that when the end actually happens, I wanted a little bit more.
These books also really made me feel sorry for the wolves and the pains human put them through. And what I like most is that the book wasn’t supposed to be about that. It didn’t preach about animal protection or even really talk about it much at all. All these books do is make the animals more human; there were never any easy answers or black and white moralistic values. Maggie made them human, and then it was up to the readers to decide what they will.
All in all, it was a great final installment. It moved a little slowly in the beginning, but I like Stiefvater’s slowness because it all deals with character. And her characters all seem like real people I could be friends with because of this slowness. As it went along, so much plot kept picking up until the end, where I was biting my lip and hoping for the best possible outcome. I give it a 10/10. And I look forward to starting her new series.

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