Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Frosty Temperatures and Mushy Love: My Review of "Forever" by Maggie Steifvater

Without Grace, I lived in a hundred moments other than the one I currently occupied. 
Every second was filled with someone else’s music or books I’d never read. 
Work. Making bread. Anything to fill my thoughts.

Forever, Maggie Steifvater pp.20

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.

                I have a confession: I almost didn’t read this book. 

                I am not into the mushy or the gushy. I like my romances complicated, breath taking and energetic – not slow and reflective and full of those long looks. In essence, for anyone familiar with the series, I like Cole – the rock star, drug abusing, hedonist with a pulse and a heart of gold – if you dig down deep enough. But I liked Shiver. I saw it on my friend’s bookshelf and read the back – what an intriguing idea – werewolves who are not moon-tied but rather, temperature tied? I liked it. So I read it.

                And yes, it is still mushy-gushy – the characters spend an awful amount of time circling around each other, readying themselves to close whatever deal they want to close – simmering at obvious misunderstandings and frustrating false starts. Very frustrating – I am not sure how many times Grace almost becomes human and Sam almost gets to see her, but I was already irritated by the first part.

                That being said – it was also better than the two previous, and in a strange way – it’s just more grown up. It shook off its Scholastic-PG rating, and embraced something closer to a PG13 or even an AA – depending on where you’re from. This one is raw – Grace and Sam are clearly in a sexual relationship (and yea yeah, it’s all love, but they are still teenagers having sex) and this is evidenced multiple times by Sam wanting Grace in his bed, and Grace not wanting to sleep apart from Sam. Cole is, thankfully, more blunt – he alternates between regretting not sleeping with Isabel and congratulating himself on not sleeping with Isabel. And Isabel borders on crass, her emotions so raw on the surface that you can’t help but feel a tad discomfort.

                It may seem perverse – but, for me, this is the mark of a good later book in a series – especially one dealing with teenagers. The ability to grow and develop is key to making a good character, and regardless of how love-sick I find them to be, Maggie Steifvater’s characters are good ones.

                This book also really introduces the dynamics of Isabel’s family and of Grace’s parents – two worlds that offset each other in a strange way. One note may be made here, and it’s minor, but both their mothers come to their rescue in small ways, but both their fathers are ultimately disappointing. I find this interesting since the two main characters who are girls are the only ones with family that are explored in the book, and yet those relationships are dysfunctional at best. The two boys, more independent in their own way, only have residual memories of their own dysfunctional families,  that cause both pain and fear. I think that this is a marked way of making the point that, no matter your past, you can make your own family. This is so true and so easy to see in the scene where Sam and Grace are in the kitchen making a pancake dinner while Cole lounges around being mopey, but then defends them when danger presents itself not three minutes later. The four friends create their own solid family, and within that, Stiefvater can make those comparisons to real familial problems so clear.

                Dysfunction, people – it works as good character soil.

                The plot, as other bloggers have pointed out, was a tad slow in parts, but I think that it wasn’t unnecessarily slow. Rather, I think that Steifvater needed to slow down the pace in order to ramp up to a climax. The only problem with this in my opinion was that I forgot the urgency – even with Isabel constantly reminding me – and so when the climax came, I just went along with it, instead of sitting on the edge of my seat screaming.
                And then there was the ending ….

                Loads of bloggers and fan girls are real unhappy with the ending  - it does end a tad ambiguously. There is a summation of the events after the climax … at the same time, these summations leave out HUGE gaping details that nag at you.

                I have an active imagination (in case that wasn’t previously evident), and as such, I don’t really have a problem with the ending so much as the abruptness of it. We spend a good 9./10s of the book building up to a climax, there are explosions, and then a very small summation. I was kind of hoping for a longer peek into the world I was being forced to leave, but in my head at least, everything worked itself out  (Yes, I know I hate mushy-gushy romances, and yet, yes you guessed it – Sam and Grace end up together, Isabel and Cole finally get it on, and the Wolves all frolic and prance along the forest).

                All in all, the book was a very good ending to a good series – the ends of certain threads still hang limply, teasing us mercilessly,  but the story itself was awesome, and it’s place as the cap to the Mercy Falls world was well positioned – the characters are grown up, by the end, even if their parents don’t think so, and the future is left as this yawning dawn that stretches out before them. It’s a great story, and I recommend it!

                Now leave me alone to my Gram (re: Grace and Sam) and Cobel (re. Isabel and Cole) shipping fantasies! :D

Read if you Liked:
  • Shiver and Linger by Maggie Steifvater
  • Cryer's Cross by Lisa McCann
  • Secret Circle and Night Visions Trilogy by L.J. Smith

Up Next to Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McCann


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