Book Review: Forever

(ed: I have fixed the Dragonisms)
I thought Shiver, book one in the Wolves of Mercy Falls byMaggie Stiefvater may have been the most perfect book I'd ever read. I loved Linger, book two, although not with the same fervor - most likely because living up to perfection is pretty impossible. I have looked forward to Forever, book 3, with the kind of anticipation that actually had me put a note in my calendar on the release day so I'd get it as soon as possible. I may or may not also have repeatedly checked Audible between midnight and 1 AM on July 12, just in case they actually listed it exactly as July 11 became July 12, but they didn't. Might have something to do with time zones or staff not being around listed that such a time, but either way, having to wait until I got up in the morning was torture.

So I got it, started reading. Sort of, because in the first couple of days, I had almost Forever avoidance. Reading the book meant being finished with the series and that was a really hard thing to think of, but I eventually smacked myself upside the head and moved on. Some spoilers ahead, primarily about book 2, Linger.

When we last saw Sam, Grace, Cole and Isabelle, Sam was cured and: no longer turned into a wolf when the weather got cold. Cole had figured out what was wrong with Grace, why she was dying: she needed to turn into a wolf. In her, the werewolf disease had d been dormant for 10 years or more and if she didn't turn, she would die. Cole helped her turn and she left, jumped out of the hospital room window and ran.

In Forever, spring is coming to Mercy Falls and changes are in the air. Tom Culpepper, Isabelle's dad, is on a mission to destroy the wolf pack, campaigning for an aerial hunt. Cole is experimenting with various substances, on a quest to find a cure so the wolves, Sam is waiting for Grace to become human again while being scrutinized by the Mercy Falls community and police force (he's suspected of killing Grace) and Grace is fluctuating back and forth between human and wolf. The rest of the story centers around Sam and Grace reuniting, Isabelle and Cole dancing back and forth, the quest to find a cure and saving the Boundary Woods wolf pack. And that's about as much as I'm going to say about the story.

As in the two earlier books, Stiefvater’s prose is breathtaking and its melancholic grace has a habit of quietly breaking your heart (in a good way). I loved this series as a whole and each book individually, but I remain ridiculously partial to Shiver. There's part of me that thinks it should have been a standalone book, a story of such perfection that to continue it in the same way is impossible. Any follow-up will be flawed and I'm already written about some quibbles with Linger. I have less quibbles with Forever, there are no screechers – y’know, that awful sound of a needle skidding across a record - but still. The events became sort of easy to predict and there are moments I would've liked fleshed out, the ending in particular. It felt rushed, not fully developed - it could've been a matter of another 10 pages at the most and I would've put the book in the series down with more satisfaction. As it is, I felt there was something missing, felt as if it wasn't quite done and nothing in the three books have prepared me for that. Stiefvater may have stuttered once or twice, but she never rushed you or the characters, so that was sort of odd. As quibbles go, hardly worth mentioning.

The narration was wonderful. I still like the Sam narrator better in Shiver than the other two, but the new narrator grew on me. Jenna Lamia as Grace was pitch perfect and based on her Grace and her narration in The Help, I'm definitely going to be looking for more books read by her. Dan Bittner as Cole and Emma Galvin as Isabelle are also beautifully cast and truly bring their characters to life.

So even with my wee quibbles with moments in the series, would I still recommend it? Absolutely! I might even go out and buy the series as gifts. For several people. They are true gems, lyrical and with a quiet beauty that means I'll be reading them again and again. I hope Audible will soon feature more of Stiefvater's books.