Author: Amy Talkington (Twitter)
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publish Date: March 11, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Mystery
When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier. For the first time ever, she has her own studio, her own supply of paints. Everything she could want.Then she meets Malcolm Astor, a legacy student, a fellow artist, and the one person who’s ever been able to melt her defenses. Liv’s only friend at Wickham, fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols, warns her not to get involved, but life is finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy the ride.But Liv’s bliss is doomed. Weeks after arriving, she is viciously murdered and, in death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that has claimed many lives. Cursed with the ability to see the many ghosts on Wickham’s campus, Gabe is now Liv’s only link to the world of the living. To Malcolm.
Liv, Forever is the perfect example of a novel that should, but doesn't, have a lot of hype surrounding it. I first fell in love with the cover of the book months ago, but the cover pales in comparison to the meat of the story, which is thrilling, dramatic, heartbreaking and beautiful. There's a certain aura about murder mysteries that often seems so very cut and dried. This singular book, however, proves that there can be so much more to such a story. Quirky and endearing, we're offered a story that's equal parts mystery and romance, giving us characters to believe in, a murder plot to unravel and a story that will easily sweep us along in its haunting embrace.
There's a subtle beauty to this story that goes hand in hand with the gothic darkness that creeps up slowly, alluring and deceiving. The fact that Ms. Talkington was able to give us a tale that's romantic, as well as dark and mysterious, tells a lot about her ability as a writer, as neither element seemed to circumvent the other. Rather, the two seemed to go hand in hand. Just when something seemed too dark, or too messy to be appropriate, the romantic interludes would creep in, giving us a beautiful, albeit sad, shoulder to rest on. As such, I think that the romance between Liv and Malcom was really well done. In some ways, I could see it as an insta-love scenario, but the connection between two very well-developed characters made it much more appropriate and tangible. Their love is what makes Liv, Forever such a masterpiece, as it seems to be that overarching storyline that gives us hope and provides us with a touch of lightness when surrounded by such despair.
Liv was a tricky character. She kept to herself, and as such, I felt like a fellow wallflower reading the novel. She knew she didn't belong at Wickham, but at the same time, she is what made the school bearable. At times, I felt as though she was too accepting of her death in the immediate tense. I would have expected far more dismay and alarm, but she seemed to take her demise in stride. Malcolm, on the other hand, felt it very deeply and, as such, I felt more drawn to his character. Though a Wickham student through and through, he had a sensitive soul that made it easy to fall for him. Likewise, Gabe offered us touches of humour, as well as a snide, derisive persona that worked well to offset the personalities of various ghosts and their agendas.
The plot of Liv, Forever was fast-paced and thrilling. Ms. Talkington gave us a depth and complexity that I'll readily admit I did not expect from such a slim novel. I was surprised and pleased to see that this story is actually multi-layered, giving us a rich, formative history that unfurls as the plot progresses, numerous secondary characters, each of whom plays a significant role in the story and a mystery that I didn't actually manage to solve by myself. Cleverly crafted, it's a novel that exudes a sense of familiarity, as these are characters that we've all known at some point in our lives, but still an air of emotional, heart-stopping, draw-dropping drama. Plus, with a love story that's fully engaged and front and center, we can't help but be completely invested.
I was really, completely surprised and pleased with Liv, Forever. It's a beautiful story that transcends the genre norms and really asks us to think and feel as we follow along Liv, Gabe and Malcolm's journey. Needless to say, it's not a story I'll soon forget. I give it a very high 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy gothic mysteries and paranormal romances.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.