Review: The Forever Song

April 3, 2014 2014, 3.5 star books, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, Julie Kagawa, Kim, vampires 41 ★★★½

Review: The Forever SongThe Forever Song by Julie Kagawa
on April 15, 2014
Genres: urban fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
three-half-stars
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, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

This review is spoiler free. All spoilers have been hidden behind a spoiler tag.

Vampires are my favorite. They have been my favorite since I watched the very first episode of Buffy  premiere  at the tender age of 10. It’s been a lifelong love affair ever since. I don’t care about trends or vampires being played out or whathaveyou. I will always love them and will always want to read books about them.

I just loved that the Blood of Eden series was about a kickass vampire girl who was not afraid to feel. I loved that she was so strong yet allowed herself to be so vulnerable. I was a super fan of the romantic element from the beginning and I rooted for Allie and Zeke the entire way. Of course, The Eternity Cure ended in such heartbreak. I knew there were only so many realistic ways the plot could go, but I was still absolutely riveted to see what would come about. When it came down to the reading of it, it was somehow both suspenseful and predictable, yet still beyond satisfying.

And yet, this is the second book I’m reviewing in 2014 for which one of my major complaints is the repetitive angst. I think it is even worse here than it was in Half Bad. Haven’t we been through all of this already? Didn’t Allison spend a good amount of time agonizing about “being a monster” through both the first and second installments? Yes, she did. Kanin serving as her mentor helped her through a lot of that transition in the first book. And in the second she was too largely preoccupied to even be pondering such insignificant questions.

Aren’t we beyond that at this point? Yes, I understand that a truly traumatizing thing happened at the end of The Eternity Cure, but the seemingly endless waffling and wallowing was grating. It would make sense for Allison to be upset at what has happened, but her thoughts are just on a repetitive loop of,“I am a monster.” “No, I will not be a monster.” “No, it’s so good to give into the monster.” and then repeat loop. I found myself with little tolerance for it.

I would just like to state for the record that, should I ever become a bloodthirsty creature of the night, I would absolutely revel in it. There’d be none of this agonizing over my “monster” status. Oh, I am so ready. Take me away, gorgeous vampire sire!

Anyway.

Maybe Forever was always doomed in that it couldn’t possibly top the truly excellent The Eternity Cure. Maybe it’s unfair to compare the two. The plot here felt predictable and manipulated in a way that the second installment never did. There is one particular twist that rankled: View Spoiler »

One of my favorite aspects of Eternity was the extent to which we got to see the ruins of the US in Allison’s journeying. I truly can never get enough of wastelands! That is largely absent here. Allie and companions are on a single track to make it to Eden and stop Sarren. The world of Blood of Eden had expanded so much in Eternity. Here it just contracted, much to its detriment.

Now, I know that Jackal is a fan favorite, but I could barely tolerate him in this volume. He definitely grew on me over the course of Eternity, but here was wholly irksome. I’m almost certain that Jackal refers to humans as “bloodbags” in every other sentence in this installment. I have no over fondness for humans (sorry, humans), but it just seemed so amateur and over the top. Truly, it was juvenile.

This was the formula for the first third of this book:

  • Allison broods and angsts about being a monster
  • Jackal taunts her with the exact same gibes over and over
  • Kanin ignores their inanities and calmly insists that they just keep on traveling toward Sarren.
  •  They then travel toward Sarren and continue bickering. Ad nauseam

It’s hard to talk about specific elements of this book without mentioning the character whose fate was in question as of the end of Book 2. I am going to put that under the spoiler cut. If you want to remain unspoiled do not click the spoiler tag!

View Spoiler »

There really were plenty of strengths for this book, though. As always, I just love Allison. She is such a strong and real character to me. Tough and capable, but with the right amount of vulnerability. Even with all of the overdone angsting in this volume I still hold her in the same affectionate regard I always have. One of my favorite things about Allie is that she cries a lot. I don’t find crying a sign of weakness at all. In fact, I think it’s brave to allow yourself to feel so freely. From series beginning to the very end, Allie’s character growth is astounding and I reveled in it.

Kanin also continued to be a favorite. What is it about those characters who say next to nothing and seemingly just as much? I think it is a strong testament to Julie Kagawa’s writing that she can create a character who reveals so little in either words or mannerisms, but who is so easily likeable and whose core being is so easily understood.

Another strong aspect of this book is that it does not shy away from the grim, dark world in which it’s set. There is much action, violence, and even some gore. Well, probably as gory as can pass in YA. I am a fairly squeamish person and can’t stand large amounts of gore in my reading, but this treads that fine line between delightfully gruesome and grotesque. Honestly, it’s appropriate and just feels right in this world. I would be questioning if there weren’t any subtle horror elements.

The only thing that I will say about any potential romantic element is that this is a Harlequin Teen title after all. Much to my everlasting delight, this is certainly the steamiest of the series. Other than that, my lips are sealed.

The battle at the climax did succeed in setting my heart to racing. There were moments of such sheer agony in the unknown of what would happen. There’s even a twist or two at the very end that I did not foresee. Perhaps most surprisingly, I very nearly cried. Books just don’t make me cry for some inexplicable reason. So when I get teary at a book you can expect that there is an emotional wallop indeed. We have been on a journey with these characters and the emotional impact of that comes full circle.

Although I felt that major plot points wrapped up just a bit too neatly, I was satisfied. When it come down to the last pages I felt the telltale ache, that not so subtle pang in my heart…I did not want the series to end. I didn’t want to let these characters go. I would love to follow them in any future adventures should Ms. Kagawa agree to scribe.

While often overly angsty and somewhat predictable, I still enjoyed this series ender a good deal. The characterization of both Allie and Kanin was strong enough to keep interest going throughout the book. Other unnamed (to avoid spoilers) elements of the series could easily slip into (and would be welcome in) any future volumes. This was really wrapped almost sublimely. Nearly all major questions were answered while leaving just enough wiggle room for a possible continuation of the series at some point. I fervently hope that we’ll see a return to Allie and companions some day.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

kim teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

41 Responses to “Review: The Forever Song”

  1. Tabitha (@Pabkins)

    See I’m not a fan of angst either…I do want to read this one still. I enjoyed her Blood of Eden books and haven’t read her fey ones. So we’ll see not in a rush though.

    So are you guys working on a side project? I’ve just noticed posting has slowed down a little. I’m excited I made a new blog home all my own. Who’s King of the Castle *shouts off the edge*
    Tabitha (@Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

    • Kim

      It’s still good despite the angst! I just wanted more depth and complexity to the plot, though. Oh well, it’s still such an enjoyable series.

      Oh, we’re always busy hatching up something here at TMG. ;) Me, I’m gearing up for BEA! Will I see you there?
      Kim recently posted…The Nethergrim: review

    • Kim

      Thank you so much, Beth! I hope you enjoy the book just as much, if not more, than I did! The ending definitely hit all the right notes for me.

  2. Kelly

    I would just like to state for the record that, should I ever become a bloodthirsty creature of the night, I would absolutely revel in it. There’d be none of this agonizing over my “monster” status. Oh, I am so ready. Take me away, gorgeous vampire sire!

    THIS! Haha, I got so fed up with Allie’s angst towards the end of Eternity – I was like, just own it girl! You’re a vamp now! It’s a shame that that’s a theme that continues in Forever. I’m also a little nervous about the formulaic nature of the plot, although feeling satisfied with the ending should (hopefully) make it all worth it!
    Kelly recently posted…Reading Challenges Update #1

    • Kim

      Right?! If you’re going to be a vampire, be a vampire dammit! I understood it in Book 1 and to some extent in Book 2 but by this point it was too much for me. Don’t worry, for as much as I’ve seemingly complained this is still really good and a very emotionally fulfilling series ender. Enjoy!

  3. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Geez. I have the first two books already, so I guess I should go ahead and read them, but the majority of book 3 sounds very BLAH. I’m glad all the questions get answered, or mostly answered–satisfactorily answered anyway. And hey, knowing in advance that the plot meanders, etc. will hopefully help me drill through it. ALSO–excellent non-spoilery review ;)
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

    • Kim

      Why thank you, Jessica!

      It’s definitely a worthy series. And even with the problems I mentioned in the final installment, this is an enjoyable book. I just wish it hadn’t been weighed down so much by all that unending angst. *sigh* I think all of it is worth it just for how good the second book of this trilogy is. I hope you enjoy them!

  4. Kate Bond

    I love reading that the third book in a series is weak BEFORE I start that series. It makes me feel smart and sneaky. Not that I read books by Kagawa, anyway, but still…if I did. If I did, I would feel smart and sneaky now. Yes.

    Especially considering how many duds of series enders I’ve read lately. So help me, Kim, if Ruin and Rising is bad…

    • Kim

      You are the smartest and sneakiest among us, Lady. ;)

      Don’t worry, though! Ruin and Rising just got a starred review from Kirkus! I am certain it will be amazing.

  5. Larissa

    I’ve recently read this one (lol in process of writing a review…soon. Yeah, sure) and I feel like you and I are on the same page. This one was sadly my least favorite installment in the Blood of Eden series.

    I loved the Forever Song in the way it managed to take vampires back to their terrifying roots. Julie definitely wrote some great gory and blood chilling scenes that I loved. Kanin was also a brilliant character who I adored. Like you said, it’s a true testament to Julie’s talent when she has me adoring a side character who isn’t that verbal. Unlike you though, I enjoy Jackal’s character quite a bit. I didn’t see the plot twist at the end coming and it definitely broke my heart. I loved it though and I feel like it was well done. It was a fitting ending to the series.

    The angst is where The Forever Song didn’t work for me. It’s been a common theme throughout every book in the series and never dissipates. Add in Zeke to this scenario and it just became too much for me. It was a constant angst-a-thon with them lol, like they were in a competition with each other. There’s only so much you can stress an issue. It became repetitive to an absurd point. Maybe the angst would work if it was about multiple issues.

    Wonderful review! (:
    Larissa recently posted…Discussing Through Midnight (28): Larissa’s Italian Adventure

    • Kim

      This was my least favorite of the series too. Which is a serious bummer when the series ends on its lowest note, you know? But still, “low” for Blood of Eden is still 3.5 stars so not too shabby really.

      Yeah, I definitely loved the amped up gruesomeness and the terror of the vampires in this installment. I just love a good brutal and dark horror setting. Kanin is just great. I wish we’d gotten more of his backstory (I would’ve loved some prequel novellas!) but the books can’t be 1000 pages long. I seem to be the only one bothered by Jackal. I did like him a bit in Book 2 but something in this volume just irked me. The plot twist was perfectly bittersweet. Brought about by heartache and loss but ultimately triumphant. It felt right.

      I didn’t mind the angsting so much in the earlier installments. I think here it’s overmuch because there wasn’t that much going on in the rest of the story. Book 2 especially was so large, and almost epic even, in its scope that there was room for the angsting without it becoming too much. This was a much more straightforward and even predictable story so it brings out the angst elements in sharp contrast.

      Oh well. I still really did enjoy it overall!
      Kim recently posted…Review: The Forever Song

  6. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I actually like that Allie still struggled with the monster inside her. It felt realistic to me, since she is still such a new vampire :) And her kick ass moments made up for it too! I did like Jackal, despite his bloodbag references. I think he likes to make himself look tougher than he actually is. I agree about Kagawa’s ability to write these characters, like Kanin. He is just THERE with is presence, so impressive.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 248. Karen Foxlee – Ophelia and the Marvelous boy.

    • Kim

      You know, that is a good point that Allie is still a pretty new vampire. I think only about a year goes by over the course of the three books. I did love that her badassery got kicked up several notches in this installment (and it was already pretty up there!). Yeah, Kanin is such a strong character which is really incredible since he says so little. Brava to Ms. Kagawa on that. Glad you enjoyed this one. :)

    • Kim

      Oh you are in for a treat with Book 2! And now at least you won’t have to wait to just finish the series. Book 2 ends on a pretty cruel cliffhanger so it’s totally better that you’ll be able to just go right ahead to Book 3. I hope you end up enjoying them as much as I did!

  7. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    While reading I knew something about this last installment was lacking but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I feel that you were able to express the things that pulled me out of the story very well. I enjoyed this series so much but this last book was my least favorite. Though, it was still good. great review!
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Review of Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

    • Kim

      Yeah, this one is my least favorite in the series as well. Isn’t it a bummer when the series ender ends up being the least favorite? Boo. This one was just lacking all of the action and complexity of the previous installments. It made the unending angst stand out in contrast. There were still plenty of real and raw emotional moments, though. They made up for the aspects I didn’t enjoy as much and then some. I’m glad you still enjoyed it as well. :)

  8. Carina Olsen

    Amazing review. <3 But aw. I'm so sorry that you didn't fully love this book. I gave it a five star. But grrr. Reading about what you didn't like make me wonder if I shouldn't have liked it either :p So yeah. I understand why you had some issues with it :) But I'm also really glad you still enjoyed the book. And that you didn't want the series to end :D That is always a plus. <3 Thank you for sharing and being honest :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Plus One Blog Tour: Interview with Elizabeth Fama + Giveaway

    • Kim

      Oh no not at all, Carina. I’m glad that you enjoyed it so much! I wish I hadn’t been bothered by those aspects that annoyed me. It really is a favorite series still. During the final pages I started to read very slowly because I just didn’t want it to end. I want more from these characters!!

    • Kim

      Yes, it was so strange about Jackal. I really didn’t mind him at all in Book 2. I even warily enjoyed his character by the end. Here he was just bizarrely juvenile to me. Strange…But yes, agreed. Overall it was still an enjoyable read and a strong and emotionally satisfying series ender.

  9. Pili

    I didn’t have as many problems with Jackal or with Allison turn to angst and monster-dealing as you did, and I agree that the book was wrapped up in a fantastic if a bit heartbreaking way. I loved this book and I loved the entire trilogy! I’ve always liked vampire books but these proved they were not just another vampire books for me!
    Pili recently posted…Read Discuss Repeat Virtual Book Club: Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz!!

    • Kim

      I’m glad you liked it a lot more than I did, Pili. I think the angsting just felt imbalanced against the relative lack of action or complexity. Especially when the two previous volumes had copious amounts of both. I still love the series as a whole. The bittersweet ending felt right for the world and the story. It would be very eyebrow raising should it have ended with sunshine and puppies. And I agree, these have really set the bar high for YA vampire books. I would just love to come across the books that could top them!

  10. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    So far, I’m the only one I know who both didn’t see that first spoiler coming, at all! And also, I didn’t think the angst was too much. I totally get why you would think that, but I just didn’t feel it myself. I read and read, and I cried, and my eyes almost popped out of my head at one point.
    All I have to say is that I think there needs to be a Jackal spin-off series :D

    Great review, Kim :)
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Review: Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira

    • Kim

      Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed this so much more than I did. I wish I’d had your reading experience! I wish I could understand why books don’t make me cry. It’s a mystery. Although this one really did come quite close. *That* scene was an emotional heavy hitter, for sure. Heh, a Jackal spinoff would be incredibly popular, for sure. I wonder if I’d be able to tolerate him more actually getting to be inside his head. Hmm perhaps one day we’ll see!

    • Kim

      We seem to end up agreeing more often than not, Mary, and it’s no different here. While it was a good ender, and was satisfying overall, there just wasn’t much that was actually happening, you know? Books 1 and 2 had so much action and adventuring. This one was fairly straight forward and much less complex. Oh well. Still super enjoyable.

  11. Sam @ Realm of Fiction

    The steamiest of the series? Well now I definitely need to bump this up the TBR list. I loved The Immortal Rules, but I did have more problems with The Eternity Cure than most. However, I look forward to seeing how the trilogy wraps up now. I’m glad you thought it concluded well, overall. Great review! :)
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted…Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

    • Kim

      Haha right? The steamy here was so, so good! Super sweet and right on the mark for the series. And it really was a super satisfying series ender. It hit all the right emotional marks. I’m super curious to see what you end up thinking about this one since our opinions of the first two books are so different!

  12. Kate @ Ex Libris

    With a few notable exceptions, I am not a fan of vampire books. However, this series is one that I have really enjoyed. I kind of saw the angst coming because it was so prevalent in the first two books, but I found it forgivable since the rest of the story was so raw. My view is, if you’re going to write a post-apocalyptic vampire book, don’t pretty it up. I was string and did not click the spoiler links, so I’m looking forward to finishing this series!
    Kate @ Ex Libris recently posted…Dear Killer By Katherine Ewell

    • Kim

      I was actually fine with the angst levels in the first two books. Here, I think it’s because it felt like often nothing was happening besides Allie’s internal angst monologues whereas in The Eternity Cure there was so much action and so much going on.

      And yeah, I agree. The grittiness of this world is a strongpoint of the series. And this installment is certainly the most gruesome. A plus if you’re a fan of such things. I’m excited for you to read it. I’ll be interested to see what you end up thinking about it. :)

    • Kim

      It’s so strange but this is the second trilogy ender I’ve read this year where the third book was my least favorite and the second was my favorite. I hope the trend doesn’t continue! It’s still a favorite series overall, though.

      And yes, the steamy here is great. ;)

    • Kim

      Oh yay! I can’t wait for you to discover it. The series really is a favorite of mine. And you won’t have to wait after the awful cliffhanger ending of book 2. Bonus!