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Tag Archives: young adult

Forever – Maggie Stiefvater

This is the perfect ending to an exceptional series.

There will be some spoilers below if you haven’t read the first two books, so if you intend to – stop reading now (and read my Shiver review instead).

So…  In Forever, Grace is now a wolf and Sam is a boy, who may or may not be cured from turning into a wolf again.

Life is more complicated than it’s ever been for the pair because not only is Sam the prime suspect in Grace’s disappearance, there are also plans for Mercy Falls’ wolf population to be culled – using helicopters and rifles.

And while waiting for Grace to return to her human form, Sam is also missing his wolf family, and wrestling with the truth about his past – and Beck’s role in it.

Meanwhile, Cole keeps working to find a cure – mostly because the idea of failure doesn’t occur to him – and Isabel still oscillates between lust and loathing for him.

For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of Forever, is the respective emotional journeys of Sam and Cole. They are polar opposites in pretty much every way possible, but their transformative moments are equally rewarding.

The series is so beautifully written I’ve often had to force myself to slow down and savour the language, but by mid-way through Forever, that’s impossible. As the threat to the wolves builds, the tension and pace demands rapid page turning.

What’s driven this story all along is the beautiful, tender relationship between Sam and Grace, and – since Linger – there’s also the more volatile attraction between Cole and Isabel, fairly humming with raw sexuality.

So, yes, the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy is a love (and lust) story. But it’s so much more than that.

It’s a story about grief, longing and regret … of love, redemption and self-acceptance. It’s about the joy of living and the pain of loss; the need to belong, and the need to be comfortable in your own skin.

All the threads from the past two books come together seamlessly in Forever, but that doesn’t mean everything is wrapped up with a neat bow – and readers who have been paying attention would expect nothing less.

But there’s more than enough resolution to leave fans sighing with satisfaction.

I had such high expectations for this final instalment and it impresses me so much that Forever exceeded them.

So, yeah. I loved this book as much as the others. Maybe even more.

And in response to Place’s request below, here’s the trailer:

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

This book left me exhausted.

It’s pretty much one long chase for most of its 479 pages, but it’s also more than that. It’s original, clever, thought-provoking and disturbing, sitting somewhere on the YA shelf between science fiction and fantasy.

The story is set in the future, on a planet called New World, which has been settled by people wanting to start a fresh life (not dissimilar to the original settlers of another New World a few centuries back).

These church settlers fought a war against the indigenous inhabitants (known as the Spackle), and became infected by a germ that allowed men to hear each other’s thoughts, and those of all living creatures around them – except women.

But in Prentisstown, all the women have now died, and all the males have turned 13 – except Todd. He’s the last boy in the settler town and is counting down the days before he becomes a man.

Todd is used to hearing the thoughts of the men of Prentisstown – dark thoughts filled with anger, desperation and longing – and those of his lively dog Manchee (“Poo Todd!”)

But when he stumbles across a patch of silence down by the river, he knows something isn’t right. He doesn’t know what it means, but just hearing the silence is enough to put his life at risk, and before he understand why, Todd’s on the run with the ever-loyal Manchee.

He discovers the source of the silence and that answer – and the revelation Prentisstown is not the only settlement on New World – turn his life inside out.

For most of The Knife of Never Letting Go, Todd is on the run from the crazed men of Prentisstown, and the threat they pose only escalates as the chase continues.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book as fast-paced as this. one Ness builds the tension quickly and sustains it to the point it’s almost unbearable – in fact, by the showdown at the end, it’s excruciating.

It’s hard not to devour this novel. Aside from the pace, Todd’s narrative voice is sweet and funny, and his journey from innocence to awakening is mesmerising. He makes mistakes that threaten to consume him, and has to make a heart-breaking sacrifice. But he makes good choices too, and it’s satisfying watching him start to come of age (even if he takes some pretty intense punishment along the way).

And then there is Ness’ exploration of themes of ignorance, fear and moral corruption, and how communities might react when half its population has no privacy for their thoughts.

For much of the book, I had no idea what was going on (because Todd doesn’t) – although I could take some good guesses. But by the end, there are enough answers to be make the nail-biting journey worth the effort.

By the end, I was exhausted, and, to be honest, a little deflated by the cliffhanger finale. But it perfectly sets up the second book of the trilogy. Having read some non-spoiler reviews of the rest of the series, I think I’ll take a breath before diving into the rest of the series though…

Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers

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These days, there are a growing number of quality paranormal/urban fantasy writers catering to both the adult and young adult markets.

One of the most prolific and popular is Kelley Armstrong.

After a dozen books in her “Women of the Otherworld” series, Armstrong released The Summoning in 2008, the first in her “Darkest Powers” young adult series. The Awakening followed in 2009, and last month (April 2010) The Reckoning hit the shelves.

The series centres on a group of teenagers who discover they not only have supernatural powers, but that they’ve been genetically engineered.

Without giving too much away, The Summoning provides the set up, The Awakening further develops the characters and the threats they face, and The Reckoning is the big showdown.

The series is definitely big on action, with serious character development kicking in he third book. In fact, The Reckoning is the pay-off for series for fans, on many levels.

The best scenes involve increasingly self-reliant necromancer Chloe (the narrator) and ill-tempered werewolf Derek. Their erratic relationship effectively drives the third book, even more so than the plot developments.

Armstrong is clearly aware how easily a story like this could fall into clichéd territory, and provides a nice variety of twists and inconvenient moments for her characters to avoid that fate.

She also ups the tension in The Reckoning, with more blood, ghosts and zombies than the previous two books combined.

 

 

While the third book provides closure on a number of fronts, it definitely leaves plenty of room for future stories.

The “Darkest Powers” series is aimed squarely at teen readers looking for an action-packed paranormal read. I’ve got two novels from the “Otherworld” series waiting on my shelf, and I’m keen to have a read and see how Armstrong delivers her stories when writing for a more adult audience.