Maggie Stiefvater is not just a great writer, she's an amazingly talented person. She didn't just write the books, she did the stop-action illustrated videos and wrote the music. Good grief. It's no wonder that she's able to create characters like Sam and Grace.
And let me just definitively state that this is NOT a book about werewolves!
Sam and Grace - two of my favourite characters ever. I love them. Not sure what else to say except that I am as much in awe of their fictional-yet-realistic relationship as everyone else. I think the best parts of the book were where Isabel and Cole (and even Rachel) were observing and making comments about them. It is always a pleasure to live around people that are soulmates, and that's what I've been doing while reading this trilogy.
Ah, the ending. So wonderful for some and so disappointing for others. Personally I like the idea that there is a possibility of continuing the story if Stiefvater chooses. I'd like to know where everyone ends up years later - perhaps we should start a petition. I think I'd be happy with a short novella that serves as an epilogue. What do you say, Maggie Stiefvater?
It is difficult to back away from this story and critique its mechanics. The pacing is great, the prose is beautiful. The descriptions and analogies made are also beautiful. The plot is decent. The journey of the wolves to the new location seemed a bit rushed; other than the wolves that got killed, we really didn't get much from the trip - how long did it take? If it was 2 hours away, then did they just run and run? A sentence or two about that would have made it more believable for me.
Sometimes an author will set you up for one thing, you hope against hope it isn't true, and then - hallelujah! It really isn't true and you knew it! You knew it! I love it when that happens. Although many people might feel manipulated by that sort of surprise, I generally only feel that way when it isn't true. It's sort of like the emotional investment you made in the character really did pay off, and you don't get cheated.
Many people have the view that the secondary characters are somewhat contrived. Things like the idea that Cole is a scientific genius. OK, maybe that's reaching a bit. But this is a book about people turning into wolves, so if you're going to suspend your belief about that actually happening, then you should be required to swallow the rest. Part of this for me was making the parents the bad guys. I said this in my review of [b:Linger|6654313|Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)|Maggie Stiefvater|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1292482391s/6654313.jpg|6848948]: I realise that teenagers tend to think that parents don't understand them. My one serious criticism of this book is that literally every character had parents that were jerks. Even Beck behaved badly. I wish Stiefvater had taken the opportunity to frame every parent's behaviour within the confines of their love and care for their children. It wasn't that just one set of parents were the bad guys - they were all bad guys. Even when Sam pursued Amy to tell her Grace was still alive, that scene was more about Sam's selflessness than about Amy's grief. And we never got any kind of idea - even a seed of an idea - that Louis' anger was out of a deep love for Grace. The brief mention of Isabel's dad coming from a place of grief for his son and defense of his family was completely buried under his monster status as a general bad guy and decidedly bad parent. Even Cole's dad - wasn't it possible to make him even a little sympathetic?
Cole and Isabel: here is what I loved. They are damaged and they change for the better without changing who they are. And their relationship is not neatly concluded, as might otherwise be the case, which is a nice dose of realism in a fictional world. It enabled me to swallow some of the plot elements that were necessary but somewhat contrived, typical in a novel where you just have to have some things happen a certain way. In order for the story to work, an author often condenses things by giving some characters qualities that seem implausible - like Cole being a scientific genius with a mad scientist father. And he's a self-destructive rock star? Seriously? Well, yes. The fact that he's self-destructive plays into the whole picture, and I can swallow that without much trouble. Overall the story works, and the story needs that, so the contrived elements work within it.
I read (listened to) the entire trilogy over the past week. While I'm sad to see Sam and Grace go, I am more dismayed over where to go from here. It is going to be hard for whatever characters in whatever book I next read to measure up to Sam and Grace. I love that I am not destroyed by the ending of this story. I am, rather, hopeful. It is an amazing author who can do that for her reader.