On the whole I think this was an excellent series that I highly recommend, but to me, Forever falls far short of its predecessors both as an individual story and especially as a series finale.
As this is the third and final book in the series, I'm loathe to give a synopsis because it would potentially contain spoilers for the books that come before it. Thus, this will have to do: Forever is about werewolves, but not your typical werewolves. I would hazard to guess that you've never seen werewolves like these before (unless of course you've read the first two books!). The story focuses on three particular werewolves and their various interpersonal relationships. Pretty lame, huh. Yeah, well, that's all you get, read the series!
Having read and reviewed the first two installments (Here are my reviews of Shiver and of Linger), I don't have anything new to say about Maggie's writing mechanics. I will reiterate that she is a very good writer who does a masterful job of straddling the line between descriptive narrative and purple prose. Her style is both fluid and mature (which is great to see out of a YA author).
I will not get into a full discussion of the split narrative here as I spoke about it a little bit in my review of Shiver and at length in my review of Linger, but I will point to Forever, as a prime example of the style's inherent short comings.
(view spoiler)[It didn't matter as much in Shiver, because there was no conflict in Sam and Grace's feelings for each other, but in Forever, as in Linger, we see thru the eyes of both Isabelle and Cole as their relationship develops. As we alternate in and out of their head space, we see that both like each other quite a bit, which lessens the romantic tension between the two. Maggie has handled the situation deftly enough that the romance between the two is not wrecked, however, there isn't much suspense as they both clearly want to be with each other. (hide spoiler)]
Things that I have complained about in the other books are still present in this book. Not the least of which is gender confusion. I think, Maggie did a better job with this aspect in Linger than she did in Shiver, but it returns again in full measure here in Forever. Sam has consistantly been the girlie boy from the get go, but Cole is much more affected in this book than he was in the last. I am NOT going to cite specific examples at this time because I am plannning an essay which will focus on the difficulties of authors creating convincing characters of the opposing gender. This series of books will feature heavily in that piece.
If Forever is more of the same, why three stars instead of four? Well, to start, this one dragged a bit more than the others did. It seems to be a fairly common complaint, that this one was slow to get started, and I appear to be in the majority (for a change) in that I feel the same way.
Where I appear to be in the minority is that, I didn't feel that this book had the same emotional impact as the earlier ones did. Spoilers inbound!
(view spoiler)[Isabelle's loss of her brother, Jack, and her feelings of responsibility for it, in Shinver, connected with me on a primal level. Nearly identically, I felt for Cole at the loss of Victor. While Cole was not the one who shot Victor, certainly he had a very active role in placing Victor in the path of the bullet. While we have the deaths of Olivia and Beck in Forever, neither hit me as hard. Olivia because we hardly knew her and Beck because Maggie has spent the last two books slowly revealing his darker side. It's not that I didn't like Beck. I did. And I do feel for Sam, but I pretty much expected Beck to die once we discoverd his duplicity in Sam's infection with the virus. It's an old storyline really, wherein the scales have to be balanced.
Perhaps a bigger contributor to my less than powerful reaction over Beck's death, however, was the manner in which it came. To me it was very difficult to believe that Shelby, in her wolf form and operating almost exclusively on instinct, would have taken that particular moment to turn on Beck. Helicopter thundering away and the pack in a panic. Her animal mind should have been focused more on survival than opportunity. (hide spoiler)]
Another major flaw I had with Forever, was the ending. Potential ground work for a possible fourth book aside, what happens in the climax doesn't make alot of sense. Can't say more without spoilers, soooooo...
(view spoiler)[ First off, there is no way that once the shooting started ANYONE would have had to lead the wolves to the safety of the nearby forest. Instinct would have done that without Sam having to charge to the front and lead them there.
Beside that, I had a nearly impossible time seeing Sam as an alpha wolf. He simply doesn't have an alpha personality. Cole? Probably. Grace? Probably. Isabelle? Not a wolf, but without a doubt! Sam? Nope, not working for me. Yes, the whole packed loved him, but that's not how wolves function.
The whole thing is moot, however, because simply getting them to the trees would not be enough. If it were, they would never have been in any danger to begin with. They already lived in a forest. The problem was the people that wanted to kill them knew where the pack was. Know what? At the end of this book, those same people that wanted to kill them, are still very much alive, have had no apparent change of heart, and know exactly where the wolves can be found since they watched them run into the new forest.
Someone will certainly scream "Private property!" but I'm not buying it. IF (I say IF because I thought this was a dubious proposition to begin with) the wolves were enough of a hazard to life and limb to have a special law pass for their irradication, public safety would have demanded that the hunt continue whether on private property or not. (hide spoiler)]
In the end, the final event doesn't really resolve the major situation presented in this book, or the culmination of the series as a whole. Oh well, we at least get a relatively happy ending.
Not bad. The plotting is pretty soft and I'm not really a fan of how J.R. forms her relationships.
(view spoiler)["My body made me do it" doesn't do mNot bad. The plotting is pretty soft and I'm not really a fan of how J.R. forms her relationships.
(view spoiler)["My body made me do it" doesn't do much for me. Would Wrath and Beth have come together if not for some biological imperative? A biological imperative that seems to switch on and off at the whim of the writer. I was willing to chalk up the opening "sex with a total stranger a day after being sexually assaulted" to the mystical push of Beth's impending transition, but as the book proceeded, this concept wasn't really developed. In fact, later scenes with the two of them demonstrated that either could say no when they wanted to, which plays against the opening MUST HAVE SEX NOW scene. Still, J.R. comes back and gives the couple reasons to love each, aside from animal crazed sex, as the book progresses. (hide spoiler)]
She writes well and the book was mostly good fun. At times I think she goes over the top with the macho crap. I was a little frustrated when even Beth thought of the Brotherhood's boots as "shit kickers" but its always interesting when a writer tries to convey atmosphere through language. I think J.R. was hit and miss in that respect.
I was somewhat frustrated with the epilogue, but it is what it is. While I won't be rushing out to get the next book, I do plan to continue on with the series at some point.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is the second book in what is purported to be a three book series. As such, it's in a bit of a rough place. Often the middle book feels like filler caught between the exposition of the first and the climax of the third. To some degree, Linger, suffers from its position. On the whole tho, I think this one is a little stronger than Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1).
It's stronger because Maggie does a pretty good job of improving on some of the faults in the first book.
As I mentioned in my review of Shiver (http://fun-with-books.blogspot.com/20...), I think Maggie is a technically proficient writer. I think she does a fine job of walking the line between colorful discription and purple prose. I find her writing mature (which is often difficult in the young adult genre) without crossing the line into pompous. Moreover, I like her character development
Like Shiver, Maggie uses split narrative to tell her story, but this time she uses four POV's rather than two. Personally, I think this is a dangerous way to tell a story when you're using the first person narrative. I've read a number of books that have tried it but have felt very few of them were stronger for it (please, don't get me started on Jacob's tour of the first person narrative in Breaking Dawn). For me the problem is that I bond differently with each character. Obviously, I don't like each character equally so when the narrative switches I may or may be happy about it, but whether I like the character or not, some degree of disruption in the narrative flow occurs.
I think Shiver would have been a stronger book without the alternating narrative, but Maggie did a good enough job with it that it didn't hurt the book, I just don't feel like it enhanced it in any way. Again, in Linger, I would prefer that she hadn't used split narrative, but surprisingly I enjoyed it more here than I did there. For me the major reason for the improvement was the use of Cole. As I stated in my review of Shiver, I thought Maggie did a bad job with the male POV. She did a MUCH better job (although, not a perfect one) in Linger, particularly with Cole. Consequently, for me, the split POV did add SOMETHING because it showed that Maggie could write a more convincing male character.
As I said in my review of Shiver, I love Maggie's spin on the werewolf mechanics but the volatility of the catalyst made me dubious about some of the scenes. As it turns out, I was right to be dubious. In Linger, Maggie confronts this problem and while we still don't have a clear answer, an apparent defect in Shiver, has been cured to some extent.
My biggest problem with Linger was the middle book syndrome I mentioned above. But it isn't as bad as it could have been. Maggie creates a clear problem particular to this book and works thru it, so this book has purpose on it's own, but the book moves slower than it needs to primarily thru the inclusion of interesting but unnecesary interpersonal obstacles.
This was a solid second book and a minor improvement on the first. At the time of this writing, Forever, the third and final entry in the series has recently published. I'll be picking it up sooner rather than later....more
Remember when I took umbrage with the USA Today blurb on the cover of If I Stay that read, "Will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight" (if not you can check it out here http://fun-with-books.blogspot.com/20...)? Well, THIS is the book it actually belongs on. The parallels between Shiver and Twilight are pretty numerous, sooooooo, if you are a fan of Twilight you're going to like Shiver. If you aren't a fan, there is still a chance that you will like this book, but that chance is probably pretty small.
Personally, I ENJOYED Twilight more, BUT I think Maggie is a better writer than Stephenie. I always feel a bit strange when I make comments like that, and although misleading, I think it's also true. There is a difference between technical proficiency and feelings conveyed by the text, regardless of the quality of the writing.
Let me try this another way. Have you ever seen the movie Mr. Holland's Opus? If not, you should. What a fantastic and uplifting movie. There is a scene in it where Mr. Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) explains to a student (Alicia Witt), who has decided to give up the clarinet, the difference between "the notes on the page" and emotion in music. To help illustrate his point, he plays her Louie Louie by the Kingsmen. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this clip. I tear up everytime I see it:
In this respect, I don't believe writing is any different than music. I think alot of writers get caught up in writing the perfect sentence, the perfect paragraph, the perfect page and forget that they're telling a story. I'm not trying to suggest that this is what happened to Maggie. Her "writing" isn't THAT good, I just feel like it's a little more mature... maybe more sophisticated than Stephenie's, and in the end doesn't stir my emotions as effectively as Stephenie did it.
I've seen some reviewers complain about Maggie's purple prose which is somewhat related to what I'm talking about. Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...) defines purple prose as "writing that calls attention to itself because of its obvious use of certain effects, as exaggerated sentiment or pathos, especially in an attempt to enlist or manipulate the reader's sympathies." Below this, it cites American Heritages' Cultural Dictionary definition as, "Writing full of ornate or flowery language. Ornate, flowery speech can also be referred to as purple prose." Corey at GoodReads (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... this passage as purple prose (There is NOTHING spoilerish in this passage, but I understand if you feel the need to skip it, it does come directly from the book):
(view spoiler)[ Cool air bit my cheeks and pinched at the tops of my ears, reminding me that summer was officially over. My stocking cap was stuffed in the pocket of my coat, but I knew my wolf didn’t always recognize me when I was wearing it, so I left it off. I squinted at the edge of the yard and stepped off the deck, trying to look nonchalant as I did. The piece of beef in my hand felt cold and slick.
I crunched out across the brittle, colorless grass into the middle of the yard and stopped, momentarily dazzled by the violent pink of the sunset through the fluttering black leaves of the trees. This stark landscape was a world away from the small, warm kitchen with its comforting smells of easy survival. Where I was supposed to belong. Where I should’ve wanted to be. But the trees called to me, urging me to abandon what I knew and vanish into the oncoming night. It was a desire that had been tugging me with disconcerting frequency these days. (hide spoiler)]
What Corey sees as purple prose, I see as a good use of adjectives. I don't find it distracting in the least and it helps to convey the setting nicely. For me purple prose, generally, requires extensive (occasionally indecipherable) metaphor, similie, and or waxing philosopical about the topic at hand. Blah... I'm rambling here and ultimately it's probably just a matter of taste (I'm sure there are a number of Twilight haters out there that don't think I have any).
Another criticism I would like to address involves the relationship between Grace and Sam. Talking about it requires spoilers, however.
(view spoiler)[ A fair number of people have criticized the obsessive or co-dependent relationship between Grace and Sam. I think it's important to point out that Grace was not unaffected by the bites she suffered when she was attacked as a child. Her senses at the very least were heightened and (don't remember this clearly but...) I believe she was stronger and faster than the average girl after the attack. What I'm getting at here is that complaints about how she was obssessing over a wolf rather than moving on and finding herself a human relationship before she knew about the lycanthropy is somewhat disingenous because she was no longer entirely human. Sam was able to send pack images to her and it's entirely possible that there was a metaphysical bond at work rather than mere obsessive human behavior (hide spoiler)]
For the most part Maggie creates solid characters here that are easy to care about. I was very sympathetic to their plight, and eager to see how they would deal with the obstacles.
Her spin on werewolves was entirely original to me and very interesting. While overall, I feel it is a strength in the book, it does require more suspension of disbelief than the traditional mythos as the catalyst for change seems so volatile. This again requires spoilers to discuss.
(view spoiler)[ Using temperature to trigger the change was a great idea in theory, but it made me feel somewhat dubious about some of the scenes in the book. Maggie tries to explain that fleeing to a warmer place didn't help a whole lot as they would become hyper sensitive to temperature change so that the slightest decrease would trigger the change. I'm glad she said something because as soon as I realized temperature played a part (which was almost from the first page) I started wondering why they didn't just do that very thing. The thing I found most difficult about this was there were many moments where I was thinking "it's cold, why isn't he changing" I mean Sam had come to the point where he was not expected to change back into a human again (which reminds me, I would have liked further clarification on how the gunshot caused him to change back in the first place). Similarly, I found it difficult to believe that Beck had still maintained his human form so late into the season. Again this is not so much that Maggie didn't explain it, as it was that I wasn't really buying it. The only real way to keep from being influenced by the cold is to stay out of it entirely, and there was just to much coming and going out of doors, to make me comfortable with the events of the book. (hide spoiler)]
For me the biggest problem with the book is that Maggie has chosen to split the narrative between Grace and Sam. This would be fine accept that Maggie doesn't do a good job of writing the male perspective. Don't get me wrong, I like the sensitive man as a character, but Sam is not so much an idealized male (ala Edward), as he is a girl in a boy's body. Of the two leads, Grace comes across more male than Sam does (which I suppose is not surprising- according to an interview with Maggie, Sam is modeled after her whereas Grace is more like her husband) and I don't think you'll be in any danger of mistaking her for a man.
Despite these problems, I'm giving Shiver four stars although it's probably more of a really strong three.