That said, I pretty much liked a majority of some of the many things about the novel that could be liked by many readers or maybe just a few. Yes. No. Maybe. That's how I feel about this novel. It's true.
- Provocative/evocative. There's this scene with a deer. And this other sexy scene. And drug abuse. And a ton of nudity. Maybe not a ton, but enough to be a significant part of Cole's characterization.
- New character, old favorite. I can't help it. I like Cole. Is it his track marks? His death wishes? The way he's unapologetically sexual. It's like the boy I wanted to
abuselove me in high school! He develops perfectly by the end of this installment of the story, so I look forward to more in Forever, the third. And then I forgot how much I liked Isabel in Shiver until I read her again in this novel. She's my favorite kind of bitch--snotty, snarky, and vulnerable. She's the perfect match for Cole. In fact, they made the novel for me. (More on that later.)
- Realistic conflicts. Once again, the author pleases me by not making the paranormal aspect the central issue. It lingers (har har) in subplot limbo, right where I like it. Grace's parents finally figure into everything, which is good--because I just wasn't buying the whole Sam-sneak-in-every-night thing from Shiver. I'd like some friend tension between Grace and Isabel or Rachel, but I suppose that wish is fulfilled by Cole/Victor and Sam/Cole. Of course nothing I just wrote makes sense to anyone who hasn't read the novel.
- Style. I like Stiefvater's writing style overall. She's not flowery, not plain. There's a natural pace to her prose. I buy the figurative language. I don't feel like I'm swimming in a writer's ego or that an editor had to rewrite sections.
- Structure. The flip-turn POV works for me. The momentum is steady, and I actually like the switch in perspectives between moments. I've always wanted to have a super power like that. One minute I'm watching my husband go into the bathroom, and then when he locks the door, I'm him, and I get to experience peeing standing up. That would be sweet!
- Imbalanced characterization. I love Isabel and Cole, but Sam and Grace are getting kinda boring. There's energy/chemistry between Isabel and Cole--maybe because he's always naked? Probably because they as characters are more dynamic, with a ton more going on in their lives. But Sam and Grace are supposedly in love, so shouldn't there be some magical sparks flying around them? Apparently not. They're like an old married couple already! I'm totally on Team I+C.
- Again, the parents. I complained that in the first novel, the lack of parental involvement detracted from the story. Well, now they're overbearing and always pissed off. How does that work? Grace seems to wonder the same thing. The problem is that we don't see the core of their behavior, so they just seem like background annoyances--like when your sweater gets stuck on the edge of the car door, and you suddenly find you're nearly on the ground with a hole in the back of your favorite fashion accessory.
- Confusion. I'm asking myself at this point: What is this story about? I'm enjoying the day-to-day of the characters, but I'm not sure that's getting me anywhere. I've got a ton of questions about authorial plot choices. One: Why is Victor in the story? I don't really care that he croaks (sorry--it's not that important), and Cole's reaction isn't justified for me. I'm ready for something more clearly significant to happen--keyword: clear.
Maybe it's my own emotional vacancy--something that happens at the end of every semester, just about the time the research papers start rolling in. I just don't know.