ARC Review: Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

Pub. Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Soho Teen
280 pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham. But Liv must fight alone to come to grips with the ultimate star-crossed love.

Liv, Forever has a timeless feel. Full of art and poetry references, it is a Classicists dream, presented in a completely approachable way. It felt decadent to read. Each Wickham ghost added to the timeless feel with songs, political perspectives, and fashion styles representing their lives and their culture, in the same way Liv’s art represents her. Readers will be able to pick up the novel twenty years from now and not be ostracized by the pop culture references, because the references are from so many decades. From the ghosts, to the current Wickham Hall students, each and every character is unique, memorable, and adds to the story in their own way. I found this novel so unique, and so interesting. As easy as it is to describe a book as ‘unable to put down’, this book was truly that for me. I was compelled to get to the end so that I would know how everything worked out.

I can scare very easily, but ghosts don’t typically freak me out (except those creepy listen to the darkness and have something scary jump out at you shows). Yet, I could not read Liv, Forever before bed. Most of the creepiness factor came from sympathizing with Gabe, and his extreme anxiety and fear about being able to see and hear the ghosts. His fear, panic, and distrust of his ability, made me anxious and worried for him. I may feel this way because of the emotional reaction Gabe inspired in me, but I found Gabe’s part of the story to be the most compelling. That feeling is truly saying a lot considering how well constructed and interesting the story is as a whole.

Why Liv died, and the mythology behind the murder, was very much kept at the forefront throughout the novel. Even though the number of characters and some of the story elements are numerous and complex, the mythology overall is not overdone. That being said, I felt that the certain elements of the mythology were introduced too late in the story, and consequently were not fully developed. Too much new information, with no chance for that information to be proved or disproved within the span of the story, left me a little frustrated. The new elements left questions open-ended, whereas the story in general has a very definitive amount of closure. I felt the new elements threw the overall tone of the ending off, leaving an otherwise nearly perfect novel on a bit of a sour note. But, should there not be complete closure because another novel is coming, I am 100% for it, and take the critique back!

Liv, Forever is a unique, heart pumping ghost story, which is so much more than a ghost story. The large cast of characters is unique and integral elements to the story, and the mythology is intriguing without being overdone. I think that there is something in Liv, Forever for everyone. I highly recommend it!

Side note: Kudos on the cover. Very unique. Very cool. And very fitting to the story.

Rating 4/5

*** I received a copy of the novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated. 

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