Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Click here for the book description.

Available at Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters, Scholastic Books Canada

I was nervous going into my reading of Forever, knowing that this would be the last book in the series. First, because it was a series that had grown on me, considerably, between Shiver (book one) and Linger (book two). Secondly, because I don't like endings! But I put on a brave face and dove in.

Having spent so much time away from the books since I had read Linger (a whole year), it was nice, early in the book, to have a reminder of why I've enjoyed this series so much. It is this: Stiefvater's writing takes on the essence of what is beloved in poetry; the tone mournful yet full of observation,. It makes the reading feel surreal; slightly mystical. For example: (pg. 71 of ARC) "Overhead, thunder rumbled, seemingly in advance of the storm cloud, which was cupping around the tops of the trees like a hand hiding a secret." I think this imagery is just stunning! But more than that is when these little bits of insight are revealed. It could pop up just after one of the characters had been discussing a mundane element of life, then bam! something beautiful and intuitive shows up. It always makes me wish I had realized it myself, but happy that someone else had, and found a way to share it with me (and all of the other readers).

Told in the perspective of the four main characters, Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole, I felt a new appreciation for the multiple points of view. At times, this method can seem tedious, trying to switch over constantly to each new person's way of thinking. In Forever, though, what I got out of each person's part was, first, their observations about those in any particular scene with them, as well as what was going on in their own heads. When it changed perspective, you could almost question the credibility of the previous character by the next's view point. Ultimately, I felt it actually gave a fuller sense of the truth of each personality. It was an interesting thing and one I hadn't really considered much about. Again, I think this all comes down to the success of the writer, in putting herself firmly in each person's shoes.

What grabbed me the most through Forever was the evolution of the relationship between Sam and Beck. It had started, in Shiver, as absolute trust, gradually working its way to questioning (and rightfully so!), then finally, to resolution. This was a multifaceted relationship that was addressed honestly and with depth. Stiefvater also tackled Grace's relationship with her parents, making it a study in opposites, really. This part of the story redeemed itself to my previous constant complaining about the lack of parental figures in YA novels. No parent is perfect and this was handled fairly in  Forever.

Drawing to the conclusion, I found myself having to go back, thinking, "What?! Did I just read that?". This was partly to do with the tears streaming down my face. The other reason was the shock value. One scene in particular, I had to go back three times to double check I had read correctly; I seriously felt the author could not have done that to me (yes, I took it personally, lol)! But, she did! After the third reading of the passage, I just settled on the reaction of "Nooooooooo...."

Despite that scene, I hold no grudges against Maggie Stiefvater. She is responsible for the creation of Cole St. Clair, a compelling literary enigma, and for making me pull out the tissue box. Forever was an artfully written end to an intelligent, curiousity of a series that never tried to confuse itself as being "fantasy" in nature. The characters and the readers just had to accept the wolves as they were and endure the struggles together. Truly exceptional!


Mel (He Followed Me Home) said...

As I was reading, I noticed the ease of moving form one POV to another too, I think she nailed the characters so well that it was obvious who's POV we were seeing it from (though I did notice Cole's tone did change a lot over this book).

I;m sooooo happy you loved this as much as I did!!!"The characters and the readers just had to accept the wolves as they were and endure the struggles together" BINGO! *Sigh*

Jackie said...

@Mel - I think the change in Cole was definitely character growth. From his starting point of near suicidal to where he got to (and not wanting to give the progress up) was a huge transition. Things could have ended different, I suppose, but I was comfortable with Maggie's vision, for sure (I'm trying to be spoiler free :)

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