Forever by Maggie Stiefvater – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater


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 a 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.


For those who loved the first two books – Forever is indeed everything you want it to be. For me, someone who has been something of a reluctant reader of this series, I thought this book was the best of the three. It’s always nice to see a trilogy end well.

I do understand why there are so very many die hard fans of this series, I really do – from the very start (Shiver), Stiefvater has had a nice way with the breathless sense of all encompassing teenage love, and she fully delivered the range of firsts – first touch, first kiss, first love, first time. She dances around the idea of wolves who mate for life, but more importantly she seeds her leading pair, Sam and Grace, with enough personality to make the relationship work. They make sense; they fit together in such a way that I could easily swallow the idea that they were meant for each other – and I particularly appreciate the fact that Sam treats Grace well, which sadly isn’t always a given in a YA romantic pairing.

That said, while Stiefvater most definitely has her ducks in a row on the breathless front, for me it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the fact that, well, nothing much happens in these books. Honestly with the first two books I knew EXACTLY how they were going to end after I finished the first chapter. Yes, the point is the romance, I fully understand, but still these books just kind of feel like mood pieces to me. They create a lovely ambiance, usually of bittersweetness, and then they just stall in that emotion. The feeling is achieved with panache, but in living and dying by an emotional state, these books are in many ways sabotaging themselves – they’re never allowed to proceed, to develop in ways that could challenge that emotional paradigm, and so the plot’s hands are tied. It makes them, perforce, a bit one note. Forever is very much a story in the same vein BUT it also is the first book in this series that allows the plot to have some sway, that actually raises questions about how it all will end. Yes, I still had a pretty good idea of how it would all turn out, but I didn’t KNOW for sure, and there were moments that surprised me – and that easily made this my favorite book of the three. Never fear, there is still plenty of emotion to this book, it’s just that this time around things are happening too.

On the romantic front, I think Steifvater was absolutely cunning in how she folded a second couple into this series. While Linger laid the groundwork with Isabel and Cole, Forever gets to be the book that brings the pair to their deciding moment, and it gives the romantic side of things a nice tension – plus it allows Stiefvater to play to her romantic strengths without having to undermine Sam and Grace’s relationship. As for the leading couple, they are still adorable, and get a nice amount of page time together – I can hear the fans cheering – but really nothing new is brought to the table. The only conflict with their relationship is external and thanks to the previous books, we know exactly how to solve it, so it was all fairly predictable, albeit in a very sweet way.

And then there’s Cole, the requisite bad boy. I know most readers swoon over this character – the quintessential broken guy who just needs to be loved – but  I found him rather unpleasant in book two (yes, even a hot musician has to treat people decently to earn my sympathy). Still I do appreciate how Stiefvater walked an interesting line in making Cole in many ways unlikable, and yet still eminently redeemable, and his redemption comes to fruition in Forever. This book keeps him front and center, and deservedly so.

Forever is pretty much exactly what any fan of this series would want – the plot proceeds nicely, the romance elicits sighs in all the right places, and there were well earned payoffs in terms of the main characters’ emotional arcs. And though The End wasn’t entirely conclusive, I liked how Steifvater brought it all together in a satisfying way.

This series has frustrated me, intrigued me, irritated me, and alienated me, but it still kept me going until the very end – and all in all, I’m glad I stuck around. Well played, Maggie Stiefvater.

Byrt Grade: A- / B+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Presenting Lenore says:

And I dare say Forever is Cole’s book – he matures so much as a character and steals the show with his science experiments, his rock star grin and his growing realization that maybe life doesn’t completely suck after all.

Annette’s Book Spot says:

I didn’t feel that Grace and Sam changed or that their relationship grew very much. Don’t get me wrong, Stiefvater writes a beautiful love story like no other. The passion was believable and swoon-worthy. I was definitely rooting for this couple to the very end, I just felt like the first half of the book didn’t accomplish very much as far as plot or character development. It seemed just like more of Linger. The ending found me gripping onto my seat and frantically turning the pages. I loved the ending—it was tense, exciting, sad, and appropriately vague, but hopeful.

A Casual Reader says:

I actually thought I was going to make it through this book without crying since Shiver and Linger proved impossible for me to restrain my tears. I thought I was home free, no tears. ten or so chapters from the end and the bottom fell out. I was sobbing, trying so hard not to get tears and snot on my sweet little advanced readers copy…