Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: July 15
You Are My Little Cupcake: Amy E. Sklansky

Forever: Maggie Stiefvater

Book: Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater (blog)
Pages: 400
Age Range: 12 and up

Forever-175 Forever is the final book of Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. This review may contain spoilers for Book 1: Shiver and Book 2: Linger (but not for Forever). Honestly, it feels a bit pointless to review Forever. If you've read Shiver and Linger, then you already know that you want to read Forever. You don't need to know what I think. And if you haven't read Shiver and Linger, then you shouldn't read this review at all, because you don't want to spoil those books (though you SHOULD immediately get yourself Shiver and get started). But here are a few thoughts anyway.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls series is about a group of teens who are affected, in various ways, by a werewolf contagion. Those who are infected turn into wolves whenever the temperature drops too low. Since Mercy Falls is in Minnesota, this means that they spend their winters as wolves, only returning to their human bodies (and human thoughts) in the summertime. Although the wolf premise is interesting (and frequently suspenseful), what makes The Wolves of Mercy Falls series wonderful is Maggie Stiefvater's lyrical writing, and her ability to capture true love in the pages of a book.

Forever finds former part-time wolf Sam apparently cured, no longer turning into a wolf (though the cure feels a bit shaky). Sam's love Grace, however, is coming off of her first winter as a wolf. Former musician Cole is also adjusting to his new life as a part-time wolf, and circling around the aloof Isabel whenever he can. Because Grace has disappeared, Sam is under suspicion from the police, Grace's parents, and the general public. Meanwhile, the entire family of wolves is under threat from Isabel's father, who wants to see them destroyed. Forever is told through the alternating viewpoints of Grace, Sam, Cole, and Isabel as they fight both these external threats and their own desires and internal demons.

Like the other books in the series, Forever is beautifully written, full of pithy truths, apt analogies and tactile descriptions. I flagged dozens of passages, finally stopping mid-way through, since I knew that I couldn't possibly quote them all. For example:

"I spent so long debating my options that I  missed my window of opportunity for escape. I was standing in the foyer, my phone in my hand, waiting for me to give it orders, when my father came trotting down the stairs at the same time that my mother started to breach the door of the living room. I was trapped between two opposing weather fronts. Nothing to do at this point but batten the hatches and hope the lawn gnomes didn't blow away." (Page 11, Isabel)

"Everyone harbored the secret fantasy that everyone who was friends with them would also be friends with each other." (Page 163)

As I indicated above, Maggie Stiefvater's greatest gift, I think, is her ability to convey love and longing. For example:

"Without Grace, I lived in a hundred moments other than the one I currently occupied. Every second was filled with someone else's music or books I'd never read. Work. Making bread. Anything to fill the thoughts. I played at normalcy, at the idea that it was just one more day without her, and that tomorrow would bring her walking through my door, life going on as if it hadn't been interrupted." (Page 20, Sam)

"There is no better taste than this: someone else's laughter in your mouth." (Page 78, Sam)

"She turned to look at me and it was her eyes and my eyes and I felt a surging sensation of rightness, of saying the right thing at the right time to the right person, that too-rare sensation of having the right thing to say and believing it, too". (Page 93, Cole)

There is suspense to Forever. Will Sam be arrested? Will Grace reconnect with her parents? Will the wolves survive? And yet, it's a book to be savored, rather than gulped down for plot. Take your time. Linger. Enjoy being in the hands of a master.

Maggie Stiefvater is, hands down, one of my very favorite authors. Forever does not disappoint. Existing fans of the series will want to get their hands on it as quickly as possible. And if you haven't read any of Stiefvater's books, start now. You won't be disappointed. (See also my reviews of Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie.)

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.