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Book Reviews

Review: “Forever,” Maggie Stiefvater

September 2, 2015
Review: “Forever,” Maggie StiefvaterForever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3)
Written by Maggie Stiefvater
Published July, 2011 by Scholastic
388 pages
Genres: Romance, Werewolves / Shifters
Purchase: The Book DepositoryBookworldBooktopia
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five-stars

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment--a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

And so ends my re-reading foray into The Wolves of Mercy Falls. Although it’s no longer at an end (there’s a surprise new addition, Sinner, now out) it does mean it’s uncharted territory for me from now on. Forever was quite possibly better than I remembered it to be the first time around, making it my new favourite of the series. I’m not sure what Sinner holds, but at this point I’m still so very sad to be saying goodbye to Sam, Grace, Isabel and Cole… Spoilers in the full review.

This is the first time I’ve ever re-reviewed something I’ve previously posted about on the blog. Now that I’ve practically sat down and read/reviewed each book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, I feel it would be a great injustice not to refresh my Forever review with this all in mind. After all, it is my new favourite (Linger previously held that title for me).

“Why did everything feel like saying good-bye?”

So what made Forever better than Linger this time around? For starters, this one was just such a GOOD finale. The stakes were high, the adrenaline was there (inside the book as well!) and you felt that Sam and company really had little time left to make it all come together. Not to mention, the dynamics with Grace being the wolf and Sam playing human added a great new ‘flavour’ to a story I already held so close to my heart.

The characters grow SO much in this book. Sam overcomes his fears while still remaining his incredibly emotional and squishy self (seriously the boy is so pure it’s adorable!), Grace – although still quite self-involved – kind of takes the backseat this time and lets life just happen, whatever it may be… Cole, well he learns to be a PERSON and what it’s like to be NEEDED and APPRECIATED while still throwing around his unique brand of snark and destruction… and Isabel? Isabel is her own volatile sun with a heart of gold hidden behind her polished veneer. I mean, the girl throws herself and her SUV in front of a helicopter with gunman for crying out loud. To protect HER FRIENDS.

I just love these characters so much. I want to pick them up and put them in my pocket to keep.

“I could live inside a G major chord, with Grace, if she was willing.”
Sam

Ahh, Grace and Sam. Sam and Grace. The integral backbone to this series. As much as I adore Cole and Isabel’s relationship, there is no denying that there wouldn’t even BE a series if not for Sam and Grace. Together they could tackle the world’s problems with a song and the most chaste of kisses. Seriously? What threatens to be way too corny to be bearable is actually mind-wrenchingly sweet. It’s a love that doesn’t require words or hasty confessions, it just is.

I am so very glad that by the end of Forever, Grace’s parents had accepted that she and Sam were ‘for ever’. Although they continued to be the disapproving monsters (her father, Lewis, moreso) they were in Linger, it seemed that this time around they could be reasoned with a little more. Pity all it took was the fear that their daughter was dead.

As for Cole and Isabel, their relationship is such a stark contrast to Sam and Grace’s. I mentioned before that both of them long for what Sam and Grace have, but they are two very different sets of people and life will always play out accordingly! Their constant battles with one another – verbally and emotionally – is such a change whenever you delve into their chapters. While Cole won’t give up, Isabel won’t give an inch. They are forever arriving at a stalemate, unable to move forward or move on from the whole thing. Unlike Sam and Grace, who are polar opposites, Cole and Isabel are too alike to be stable at any given time.

And this, this is their charm. They know each other so well because they draw on personal experiences. It was such an up-and-down adventure seeing them learn to orbit one another instead of constantly colliding. Although the attraction between them was always there, and TOTALLY evident, the respect wasn’t – and by the end of Forever, it was.

“And this, I thought, was why Sam and Cole could not get along. Because when it came down to it, Cole made bad decisions for good reasons, and Sam couldn’t justify that.”
– Grace

Maggie Stiefvater doesn’t just turn the dial to REAL in her romantic relationships; she also makes sure that our characters have solid friendships, too. Or… in Sam and Cole’s situation… complicated friendships. It was great to see that Sam influenced Cole, and Cole influenced Sam, all throughout the events of Forever. By the end of it, they too had an enormous amount of respect for one another.

Sam underestimated Cole – his ability to figure out the science behind the werewolf-ism and commit himself to a cause, and Cole underestimated Sam in the sense that he didn’t believe he had the balls for what needed to be done. There was a lot of back-and-forthing, jealousy and mistrust between the two… but it all made for a really interesting read, whoever the narrator. I also found it incredibly intriguing that each boy had met a totally ‘different’ Beck, and insisted that their version of the man was the true one.

Grabbing the tissues here, because yes, there were deaths. Two of them particularly struck me, though all affected me in a different way. The first was Olivia, who dies in the first chapter (narrated by she-wolf Shelby) at the hands (or paws?) of the white wolf. I had completely forgotten this part of Forever until I read it again, so naturally it shocked me. I was quite looking forward to seeing how Olivia had dealt with being a wolf – she was so damned excited at the end of Shiver! – and it was just incredibly sad and heartbreaking that she DIED. For some reason, I couldn’t shake the disbelief all throughout the book. If anyone had been innocent in all of it, it was Olivia. I felt that after what she’d been through with Jack in the first book, she deserved some kind of reward.

And the second death? Beck. His end was just… so final. To have him utterly destroyed before our eyes was gut-wrenching. The aftermath, when Sam and Grace went back to look at the bodies, was terrible. For Sam to compare his father-figure to the starling Shelby had slowly tortured with a pencil… there were no words. I’m so glad they had a final ‘goodbye’ of sorts. Even though I had an inkling Beck may not get out of it alive – he’d done too many questionable things to receive redemption in ‘bookland’ – I didn’t think his death would be such a violent one.

“With the wolf inside me and Sam beside me, both of us strange creatures, I felt we were somehow an intrinsic part of this world, this night, this boundless mystery.”
– Grace

Which brings me to… the science-y stuff and the ending in general.

I am still a little confused on what makes a wolf A WOLF, but I think it was meant to be that way. Maggie Stiefvater wasn’t writing a science textbook, after all, and I guess there’s got to be a certain element of ‘magic’ left to the books in order for us to suspend disbelief, right? After all, Cole couldn’t come up with a solid conclusion in Beck’s kitchen. He may come close, but that’s a tough gig even for Cole St. Clair.

I have so many questions… was Sam back to his old wolfey ways by the end of Forever? Does he have to re-take the meningitis to stop him from shifting again in the cold? Did Grace finally go through with the cure? What’s Cole going to do?

It was all wrapped up quite nicely with the wolves safe on Koenig’s peninsula (now Cole’s, I guess) but I couldn’t help but wonder… IS SAM STILL CURED OR WHAT? Maybe I was just missing something totally important, because the characters didn’t seem that urgent in answering that for me. I assume that Grace is going to spend the winter at the peninsula with Cole, fighting through the cure… but that’s all I can do… assume.

All in all, everything was hunky dory by the end of Forever, except for those deaths and the departure of Isabel to California. While previously I was mourning the loss of some of my favourite characters, thinking that this was the end for them with the close of book three, I am now delighted to be continuing on to Sinner. Thank you, Maggie Stiefvater, for having a suprising but VERY APPRECIATED change of heart and amending your series to four books. I cannot wait to travel to California and see what Cole St Clair and Isabel Culpeper are up to.

Maybe I’ll even hear what Sam and Grace are doing these days?

Recommended to: If you hung on to every word written in Shiver and Linger, just like I did, you’re sure to LOVE Forever. Just bring the tissues and get ready for an emotional ride.

About Maggie Stiefvater

All of Maggie Stiefvater's life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you're a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she's tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She's made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

1 Comment

  • Reply Rachael July 1, 2016 at 3:03 am

    Do this series finish with a happy ending???? I could not keep myself to finish the #3

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