Book reviews

Forever – Maggie Stiefvater

Release date: 12 July 2011
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★ – 9/10
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Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3) blurb:

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love 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 momenta moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

Considering how long it took me to read books one (Shiver) and two (Linger) in this series, I thought I might be finishing up book three (Forever, this one) around Christmas time last year (FYI, I finished it in October). But I must have gotten over my reading lump because this book took me down with its teeth and dragged me into the forest before I could cry “Wolf!”

For anyone who might still be reading after that horrible analogy/joke, this series is not what I first thought it would be. This is a love story that happens to have werewolves in it. It is an ode to that one true, be-still-my-beating-heart, near-tragic, love that most people dream about finding. Don’t get me wrong, by no means is it a sappy, high-school-crush, my-life-will-end-if-he-doesn’t-look-at-me story (despite them being in high school). No, it’s a mature, thoughtful, deep-connection type of love. The kind poets write about, and bards sing about. The perfect, all-consuming type that authors tease their readers about (but it is out there — you just have to find the right person!).

The story talks about two kinds of love: the in-love kind of love, and the family kind of love. Of the in-love kind, you have the Sam and Grace type, which is measured and sweet; and then you have the Isabel and Cole type, which is explosive and hurts like trying to breathe underwater. Both types are perfect in their own way, it just depends on what type is right for the person you are.

It’s the family-type of love that has really made me rethink family dynamics. There are four main family relationships in this series, and I’m just taking a brief interlude of this book review to discuss with you what they are, and what scares me about some of them, as someone who will likely start a family soon.

  1. Sam and his birth parents.  Wow, talk about a fucked-up relationship. I would like to think that any future child I have can talk to me about anything: sexuality, religion, drugs, gender, them becoming a werewolf; and I wouldn’t hesitate to reassure them that I love them first and foremost as my child — regardless of what they say. What these two did blows my mind (but in a different way than Adam Parrish’s parents did).
  2. Sam and Beck. Again, somewhat fucked up, but I can see the good intentions. Those last few chapters in Forever though — wow.
  3. Isabel’s family (including Jack). That, to me, is your classic rich, busy, uninterested family who sit down to have dinner on special occasions, but could legitimately go weeks without bumping into each other in their house. And when I say ‘classic’, I mean from watching movies, not from genuinely having an understanding of how they work.
  4. Grace and her parents. I think these two blow my mind more than Sam’s biological parents. But good on Grace for raising herself to be a decent human being, finding real love and sticking to her beliefs.

I know that wasn’t a hugely in-depth piece about the book, but I wanted to point out that while I said this was a ‘love story’, I didn’t necessarily mean that it was only about characters in love. It’s also a literary piece that looks at the differences in family dynamics, and how different events may affect people differently. By no means were any of these family relationships perfect — in fact, they were possibly the worst of the worst, but yet they still managed to breed some fairly decent people. There is hope for anyone in that.

Also, I’m not sure there isn’t much I could say right now that I haven’t said about every other Maggie Stiefvater book — the writing was pure magic, lyrics turned to story; the characters were vivid and distinct and I loved them all in their own fucked up ways; the story was real without being weird (no one writes urban fantasy like Maggie); and the plot was amazing — Rumpelstilzkin level of story-telling.

If you’ve read this far, but haven’t read the books then sorry, but let’s be honest you probably shouldn’t be reading a review of the final book in a series before starting it. But if you want my advice (and let’s be even more honest — why are you reading my reviews if you don’t want my advice), just go and buy everything Maggie’s ever written (I’ll be reading either Sinner or All the Crooked Saints as soon as they arrive in the post) and read it, because it’s pure fucking magic.


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