Sam is firmly in his human skin and Grace can stay neither wolf nor girl for very long. Summer is almost here though and soon they’ll be together again. Too bad Isabel’s father is planning a hunt to kill all the wolves in the area and the police are beginning to investigate Sam for the disappearances of Grace and Olivia. And what will happen to the pack if Culpepper does manage to bring in sharpshooters on a helicopter, will they all die?
Forever is the last installment in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy and what a finale it is! If you haven’t read Shiver and Linger I suggest you read them first and then you’ll be able to fully appreciate Forever.
Since there’s next to nothing that I don’t absolutely love about these books I’ll just say what makes me a fan. First off there’s the narrative voice. There are four protagonists and every one of them has a voice so distinctive that even without the chapter headings stating whose chapter it is I would’ve been able to easily identify the narrator. Sam and Grace’s chapters are like talking to your best friends who you’ve known for years. These two are calm and steady even when they are indecisive or are going through a particularly hard time. Isabel and Cole’s chapters are full of witty humor, raw feeling and the sensation of being on the edge and I literally laugh out loud when I read them.
I like books that flow at a good pace without moving into breakneck territory and here the author achieved the perfect balance with shorter chapters, moderate use of description and alternating thoughtful introspection with snappy dialogue. It also helped that there wasn’t a lot of leading into a scene. It was more like the literary equivalent of “hit the ground running” – the narrator changes and things are already in the middle of happening.
Any reader of YA is familiar with the archetypal completely oblivious if not completely absent parents. The teens grow up and go through all sorts of things with the parents vaguely somewhere in the background, included only because you can’t really have children living by themselves with no adult supervision. It would be too unrealistic even for fantasy. That is why it was very refreshing to see Maggie Stiefvater buck the trend with her parent characters. They’re all very much there and the level of their involvement actually has an effect on the kids. There’s Isabel who doesn’t speed fearing the parental wrath; there’s Sam, conflicted about his adoptive father but cherishing the time they had together; there’s Grace, scarred by the indifference of parents who only remember that their daughter is a minor when she decides to have a life where she actually matters; there’s Cole, trying so hard to not be like his father but not managing to escape the similarities. None of the relationships are simple but they are there and it was good to read the parent-child scenes that didn’t feel like protagonists were talking at cardboard cutouts.
There are plenty of readers who want their fiction to wrap everything up tidily and present the ending with a pretty bow on top and a “happily ever after” in the post script. I’m not one of those readers. Life is messy and rarely perfect and I enjoy reading a book where not everything works out and not every single question is answered every single time. I like seeing how characters deal with the unpleasant bits and believe that it allows us to discover things not only about them but about ourselves as well. That’s why I was very satisfied with the ending of this series. There are things that are not definitively one way or another and not everything is explained but there’s hope for the protagonists to have lasting happiness. They are on the right track, they’ve got each other’s backs and I turned the last page with a firm belief that all will be well in Mercy Falls.