Forever

cover art of forever*I purchased Foreverby Maggie Stiefvater from Bookingham Palace in Salmon Arm

I think the truest testament to how engrossed I was in this novel is that I didn’t notice the text was in red ink until about halfway through. When I’m really into a story I forget about the physical object in my hand and the individual words and it all just flows like a movie in my mind, only more intimate, like I’m experiencing it. This is how Forever felt for me, although I have to say after a few hours that red text hurt my eyes.

When I reviewed Linger (the 2nd installment in the trilogy) I expressed some disappointment with how the series was progressing but Stiefvater made up for that disappointment by coming through with a fantastic finish.

“I was a radio tuned to all stations at the same time, so many thoughts inside me that none of them counted” (107)

The characters were incredibly relatable, with genuine reactions to the events in their lives, and distinct voices as the narrative shifted. I never had trouble telling who the narrator of a particular chapter was even though it jumps around and I tend to skip over the name above the chapter when I’m really into the action.

I’d always had trouble with Grace, relating more to Sam but I think Grace’s character development blossomed as she struggled with her new identity in this novel.

It’s funny that Cole and Isabel’s relationship began as purely sexual attraction, and Sam and Grace shared a bed for months without going there, but their sexual chemistry was far more compelling.

“She fisted a handful of my T-shirt; the action woke me up instantly and guiltily made me think of at least four things that were not bedtime stories or selfless ways to comfort a grieving girl” (185)

The tension in Sam’s point of view when he’s having feelings for her despite the horrible circumstances and feeling guilty that when they are in danger he’s distracted by how close he is to touching her was really well written. There’s a section where he’s fantasizing about the life he wishes he could have with her, and I loved the first half where he was imagining her studying next to him as he reads, and the simple joy he gets from being in a room for her.

There was quite a bit of action in the novel, with people being torn apart by wolves and the big hunt looming made it suspenseful, however my favourite parts were the introspective moments. Each of the characters struggles with being defined by their history, there is a beautiful balance of their personalities being shaped by their upbringing, and defying what’s done to them. Sam is suspected of being a terrible person because of how he was abused. Someone asks how he could be anything but a monster having been treated as he was by his biological parents, and he wonders himself if Beck has raised him to be monstrous. Grace’s neglectful parents have instilled in her a sense of independence. Cole’s drug abuse and suicidal tendencies and Isabel’s confrontational, cold nature are equally explored.

Being a bookworm myself I enjoyed the various take’s on Beck’s library. All of the narrators view it differently but I prefered Grace’s interpretation.

“a cave of words that I’d made myself” (170)

If you haven’t read this series or if you’ve only read the first installment, I’d say Forever makes it worth the read.I doubt the movie will do it justice.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rules of Attraction

Today’s Review: Rules Of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2)The Premise
Rules of Attraction is about Carlos, an ex-gang member who is sent to live with his brother to try to start a new life. At first he has no interest in following rules because he thinks his brother is conforming, abandoning his Mexican heritage and being whipped by his girlfriend. When Carlos is framed for drug dealing he is sentenced to live with a sponsor family and take part in after school therapy group for at risk teens.

This is a sequel to Perfect Chemistry but I didn’t read that I found that Rules of Attraction stands alone nicely

The Narrative

The chapters alternate between Carlos’ POV and the perspective of Kiara, the daughter of his sponsor parents. This is the most successful use of alternate perspectives I can remember reading. In Shiver it was an OK tool to see both sides but Sam and Grace (the characters in that story) did not provide the striking contrast that Carlos and Kiara do.

Carlos is hostile, suspicious, critical and stubborn. It’s very clear from his chapters how he feels about his situation. Carlos’ thoughts about the violence and poverty of the past are necessary to frame the story and explain his rebellious nature.  .

I think Kiara’s perspective makes this book more accessible for middle class or upper-class girls. I think a lot of the high school girls who read this won’t be able to relate to Carlos and the hostility of his POV, so seeing him through Kiara’s eyes helps them feel more connected to the story. 

Watching things unfold from both sides is a wonderful experience, especially because Elkeles avoids too much overlap.

Character Development

Even though I knew Carlos would be a tough guy who turned out to have a sweet side Elkele’s layering of his character was well written. The overall effect was predictable, but the intimate moments where he let down his guard were heart-renching! He felt like a real person, shaped by his experiences. He is incredibly flawed but an awesome person all the same. At first even though I felt bad for him I didn’t like him much. He was too cocky but at the same time had no ambition beyond maintaining his tough image. NOT someone I would normally be attracted to, but he won me over!

Kiera is someone I’d want to be friends with. She’s smart, self-conscious, a good sister, adventurous and brave. Carlos is surprised that she is not afraid to get her hands dirty when working on her car, cooking, hiking or playing sports.

Kiera’s father and Alex are the only two secondary characters that I felt were fully developed. Others like Madison (a girl interested in Carlos), and Brandon (Kiera’s brother) had some meat but many like Tuck were just token stereotypes. I think you get more about Alex in Perfect Chemistry.

Amazing things about this book

  • Carlos and Alex are proud of their Mexican heritage. Elkeles uses Spanish in their dialogue, talks about their homesickness for authentic Mexican food and they argue about what it means to be Mexican.
  • They are not exaggerating when they say the romance in this book is smoldering. The make out scenes are really sexy, the heat between the characters is believable
  • It does a good job at showing that moving and not wanting to be a drug dealer anymore isn’t always enough. I think people scoff at those who feel trapped in those situations, saying they could leave if they wanted, but the way Carlos is forced into the gang scene again is terrifying! Elkeles shows us the mindset of someone in that situation
  • The cover art is fantastic. I think I should make a mural or something out of gorgeous YA covers.
  • Carlos’ transformation doesn’t feel too forced. He doesn’t go from bad ass to good guy in a matter of pages, he makes connections with people, sees possibilities, dares to dream beyond the present because he’s given better options he hadn’t considered possible

Important to have in a library collection because

  • Deals with gangs, drugs and sex, and I think at risk teens or any teens really should be able to see these harsh realities in fiction. It’s also great for them to see that it’s not a dead-end if you want more
  • Diversity of characters. Mexican characters are prominent and gay characters are featured, I think having minorities represented in your collection is really important.
  • A female character who fixes cars and does typically masculine things while maintaining her femininity. I’ve gotten in a few feminist arguments this week haha so I’m happy to see a woman who doesn’t need to be rescued constantly in YA
  • This is going to popular and in demand, so libraries should respond to this demand

Fabulous book overall, even if I found the epilogue to be a bit much.

Lingering feelings for Sam

I eagerly awaited getting Linger by Maggie Stiefvater from the library (there were a lot of holds) after really enjoying Shiver . I can’t say it filled the big shoes of its predecessor.

At first I found the 4 perspectives to be too much. I just wanted Sam and Grace, and Isabel and Cole were getting in the way of where I expected the story to go. As the book went on I was grateful to have Cole’s storyline happening because not enough was happening in the Sam and Grace one.

There was a section in the book where it seemed all the narrators were just saying “Grace is sick, I suspect it has to do with the wolves” in their own way, and I was getting bored with it. I felt like her illness was dragged out longer than it needed to be. To be fair I have been really sick this week and the last thing I felt like reading about was someone being sick, it only made me hyper-aware of my own problems.

Cole’s guilt about his mistakes with Victor, Isabelle’s guilt over her brother’s death and Sam’s confrontation with his past were all interesting but depressing. I was glad to see Grace finally express herself to her parents, but I don’t think she handled it very well.

The only thing that kept me really into the book was Sam, or rather the way Stiefvater writes in Sam’s POV. I love the lyrics he writes, the poetic way he speaks, and the way he somehow seems innocent and jaded at the same time. I found Grace’s chapters dry but Sam’s were so full of life that I kept reading looking forward to the snippets of lyrics. I wish the book came with a soundtrack.

Overall I was a bit disappointed, but there were parts I liked and I enjoyed the ending.

Gave me goosebumps

shiverShiver by Maggie Stiefvater was awesome. I may have been watching too much HIMYM because I say awesome a lot lately, but seriously it was a great book and here’s why:

  • It dealt with neglectful and abusive parents, doing a pretty great job at showing the child’s POV
  • The awkwardness of Grace’s evolving friendships with Olivia and Rachel was well written, touching on something a lot people face when they reach a certain age
  • The werwolf lore was different from any I am familiar with, and really interesting
  • It spoke to the nerd in me, with lines like “Books are more real when you read them outside” and fantastic descriptions of the book store and the candy shop (my 2 favourite places 😉 )
  • It was an easy read but with sophisticated language

I’m on the waiting list for Linger at the library