Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa



Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: young adult post-apocalyptic paranormal (vampires) romance sci-fi action adventure ALL THE GENRES
Format/Source: DRC, Netgalley; hardcover, bought from B&N
Status: final book in the Blood of Eden trilogy


Summary:
Vengeance will be hers.

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.

Monster.

Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions - her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost - the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

THE FINAL HUNT IS ON.

Review:
Okay. This is going to be...a really difficult review for me to write. For one, this is a Julie Kagawa book so you know I'm still reeling from residual Feels. On the other hand, this is the third book, the final book, in this series, and I don't want to spoil it for you guys. I love this series so much that it's one I want everyone to read, and I respect everyone who reads my blog enough to not want to mess up any of the surprises for you. If you haven't read this series, please, I am begging you: do not read my review. Know that I HIGHLY recommend this series, and just go out and get a copy, whether you buy or borrow. Trust me. TRUST. ME. That being said, I can't prevent you from continuing to read. Just know that although I will not be sharing any big surprises, there will be some completely unavoidable spoilers, especially of the first two books. You have been warned.

I think one of the most impressive facets of this series is Julie's incredible world-building. At a time when vampire novels were becoming not just unpopular but downright hated and avoided at all costs and at a time when dystopian novels had just hit their peak and were 1. hard to be unique and interesting and 2. starting their decline, I am SO impressed with Julie for just going for it and with Harlequin for understanding what a great series they had and getting it published. Don't let the words dystopian and vampires scare you from Blood of Eden; Julie flawlessly merged her vampires into this crazy post-apocalyptic world and really took genre-jumping to a new level. There's humor, romance, sci-fi... all of it, and it all fits in this insane world that used to be North America. The vampires are real vampires: fangs, bloodlust, an inability to drink animal blood, can only come out at night, the works, and the world itself is cruel, stark, cold and horrifying. It's really atmospheric and downright scary, which gives the whole series a great–and terrifying–tone (man, I do love when all the parts of a novel blend so well that I end up not being able to separate them when I write a review. Yes, I am a nerdy English major who analyzes all these devices. Don't judge me).

I am equally impressed with the scope of the trilogy. The Immortal Rules, the first book in the trilogy and our introduction to this world, is primarily concerned with Allie's transformation and adaptation to vampire life. It's the least romantic of the three books, which is appropriate, because Allie is focused on the basest survival. Over time, the scope of the series expands from Allie's survival to the world's survival. No longer is it humans vs vampires vs rabids. It's everybody vs Sarren (well, the rabids just do their thing and still hate everybody) in a fight against extinction. Everything is bigger: the stakes are higher, the romance is more intense, the fights are bloodier, deadlier. It's crazy. The fact that there are so many antagonists throughout the entire series and that they become increasingly more dramatic is an indicator that this is one well-written book. One of my biggest problems with most dystopian reads is that usually a resolution is reached for only the main character but not the world. Have no fear. You will feel closure not just for Allie and her allies and enemies, but also the rest of the world. YAY PLOT RESOLUTION!

I also really love the character development throughout the series. It's really unexpected because even the most horrible characters have some sympathetic characteristics, and the best characters have faults and weaknesses. There's Allie, who is strong and passionate but allows herself to become distracted and manipulated. There's Kanin, who clearly has good intentions but truly EFFED UP. He's the masochistic one of the bunch who spends all his time trying to atone. There's Jackal the jackass who is snarky and obnoxious and absurdly funny but also ultimately loyal. Zeke, our first runner-up in the masochistic department, who reminds me so much of Mockingjay Peeta in this novel that my heart broke several times over as he struggls with his new life. There's Sarren, the crazy sob who really is sick and sadistic and terrifying but wants to save the world from itself (even if it's in the most terrifying way possible).

It is impossible to review this book without talking about some of the big moments so here goes. Zeke: I wanted to die when I read the end of Eternity Cure. I knew that his arc in EC would create far-reaching consequences in Forever Song, and I'm really glad that Julie did not shy away from the difficult choices. I mean, granted, this is Julie so she will always make those difficult choices if it means her readers will cry so there's not much worry in that regard. Like I said, he really reminded me of Peeta in Mockingjay, and it was really painful to read. This is the other thing that impresses me so much about Julie's writing: her ability to wring every drop of emotion from her reader until we are simultaneously begging her to stop and yet to never stop. The ending: I'm going to be very honest and say I saw this coming a mile away. When you have a small cast of characters, it is fairly easy to anticipate the who, what, and why, if not entirely the when and the where. Sorry if I'm being a little too vague here, but this is the big moment I don't want to spoil. I think I have always known this is how the series would end, but I don't feel like the moment was cheapened. I still cried (yes, Julie, I cried. You're welcome. Your muse should be sated at least until Talon comes out....right?). I think instead, I knew it was coming, and that gave me the opportunity to accept the end and consider it satisfactory, rather than being angry and hurt over a blind-side. I was not surprised by this ending, but really, I think it's the only possible ending for the series to have had, and I'm okay with that. I don't have any regrets, any thoughts of, "Well, maybe this could have happened or that." I feel very much like Julie made the right choices not just in The Forever Song, but throughout the entire series to create a definitive and satisfactory end that everyone could be happy about. Well, not happy, per se, since I still cried buckets.... ;)

My one complaint with The Forever Song is that it felt a little chaotic to me. I don't think the pacing was quite right. Either we were blazing ahead at 90 mph during all the copious fight scenes or crawling at 5 while being emotionally bombarded during the intense character-driven moments. I felt like maybe there were a few too many fights, and I also felt a little disconnected from the imagery during them. I had a hard time picturing many of the action sequences, and unfortunately, that did distract me from the story. That being said, I think the rest of the novel, and the series as a whole, is more than strong enough to get past these relatively minor complaints.

Overall, I think The Forever Song is a book about redemption. Some may find it in one major sacrifice. Others must fight daily for opportunities for atonement. It's an intriguing comparison for sure, and that's one thing that engrossed me so much in this story. The Blood of Eden trilogy captivated me from the very beginning, and I am sad to see it end even as I feel complete closure at the events of The Forever Song. Julie, you are one cruel genius. Thanks for creating such a lovely and horrifying and beautiful and scary and hopeful series. I can't wait to see what you have next.

But maybe I should stock up on tissues first...

Book Links:
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About the Author:
Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.
Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and the latest addition, a hyper-active Papillon.

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1 comment:

  1. My friend Brittersweet at Please Feed the Bookworm LOVES this author. I haven't read any of her books. Yet.

    ReplyDelete