Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

The final installment of the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy doesn’t live up to the action and emotion-packed first two novels, Shiver and Linger. The slow plot arc, focus on too-familiar characters, and open ending left me unsatisfied at the end of the book.

The book begins with Grace as a wolf, and Sam waiting for her to change back into the real Grace. The Grace with hands, and lips, and memories. His heart cracks every time she calls him to pick her up at some middle-of-nowhere location, only to find her reverted back to a wolf by the time he gets there. He’s waiting.

Cole waits for Isabel. The beautiful, complicated, bitchy blonde that he can’t get out of his mind. But she won’t return his calls, no matter how many funny, intense, desperate voicemails he leaves her every week. So he bides his time searching for a cure. A way to bring Grace back, to stop the shift forever.

This search for a cure becomes even more important when Tom Culpeper, Isabel’s father gets the go-ahead to perform an aerial execution of the Mercy Falls wolf pack. One teen too many has been discovered dead, mauled by wolves, and the state has decided to fight back. Cole must convince Sam to lead the pack out of Mercy Falls for good, convince to put aside his fear for Grace, his anger at his foster-father Beck, and his mistrust of Cole himself.

Forever has such a slow plot. There’s so much wait-and-see, let’s test this out, self-doubt, day dreaming, flashbacks… The real action doesn’t come to the end, and by that point I’ve already guessed what’s going to happen, and nothing has the lovely sense of shock and sadness that the first two novels had.

With such a slow plot, you’d expect this book to be character driven…it was, but not with the characters I craved to hear more about.  Sam and Grace are still the main focus of this book. At this point in the series, my interest moved away from Sam, and especially Grace. I wished there would have been more focus on Cole and Isabel. They are so much more interesting, and we have so much of their characters’ left unexplored.

All of the characters, are, however, very distinct from each other. They still all have their own voices, attitudes, and emotions that push through the lines of the book and into something more. Grace, Sam, Cole, and Isabel are the driving force of the novel…it’s just that Grace and Sam felt a little flat, and didn’t have anything new to add to the story.

Grace struggles with the unpredictable shifts from wolf to girl over and over throughoug the book, as in this passage at the very beginning: “Grace Brisbane. I’d forgotten all of it as a wolf. And I was going to forget it all again.”

And Sam watches Grace struggle, feeling helpless in the face of shifts. He still quotes Rilke throughout the book (“Rilke said: “This is what Fate means: to be opposite, to be opposite to everything and nothing else but opposite and always opposite.”), and these quotes always seem to fit the situation perfectly.

Isabel is angry. At Cole, at her parents, at the world. She pushes people away because it’s easier that way. It’s easy to be in bitch mode all the time. That’s what people expect from her, and she certainly doesn’t want to disappoint. Sam describes her after a near-death incident involving Cole: “By the time I returned, Isabel was off her phone and crouching in front of Cole, a precarious pose in her stacked heels. There was something striking about her posture; something about the tilt to her head. She was like a beautiful and lonely piece of art, lovely but unreachable.”

And Cole…I think Cole could star in his very own series. His personality is so big that he can’t be contained as a secondary character. He needs to be the star. And he’s got issues galore to focus on: father issues, self-hatred issues, too-smart-and-sexy-for-his-own-good issues. As Isabel says “That was pretty much all you needed to know about Cole, right there. He saw something he didn’t quite understand, liked it, and just took it to be his.”

The end of the book…it was expected. It should have been sad, but so much of Stiefvater’s effort had gone into building this moment up, in shaping the relationships and the characters, that it just felt anti-climatic. It’s not happy (somebody does die), but it’s not sad either. There’s a hint of hope at the end, and hint that Sam and Grace do have a future together. A future that, for us, will remain unwritten.

While certainly not a “stunning conclusion” to the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Forever is a good wrap-up to a great story.

Read my reviews of Shiver and Linger:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

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