Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

liv, forever
Hardcover, 280 pages
Expected publication: March 11th 2014

Liv, Forever has a beautiful cover, a synopsis that has you itching for more, and the added bonus of having the main character be dead near the beginning of the novel. But do all of these things, with the added bonus of secret societies and ghosts make Liv, Forever a great novel?

In some ways, yes. I liked reading Liv, Forever and I thought it was a pretty good debut novel for Amy Takington. Was it perfect and mind blowing? Unfortunately, no. The main problem I had with the novel was Liv Bloom, who incidentally is also the main character for this story.

While Liv is alive, which doesn’t last long by the by, she seems awkward and loveable. There’s a scene in the beginning of the novel where the new students at Wickham Hall go through a scary prank of some sort. While the old students laugh about their prank and the new students get excited, Liv just questions the whole thing and makes the entire room go silent. I love that. That aloof awkward combo made me want to read more about her.

Then, all of a sudden my feelings for her stopped and I think it started to happen once other characters were introduced. They had some sort of life to them, even if they weren’t always fully fleshed out and sometimes felt like clichéd cardboard cut outs. Compared to them, Liv just felt there. I don’t mean like she felt out of place because of her status and perceived aloofness, she just didn’t feel like a real character.

I’m not really sure how to describe this. She had hobbies and interests and we were in her head (this was written in first person by the by) but I never really got a sense of who Liv is as a person. It’s not even due to lack of connection, it was just that she wasn’t there.

Maybe this was to help show how Liv’s life in the real world was akin to living as a ghost and it’s only through being a ghost that she can actually grow as a person. And that does happen, but when she’s alive. I dunno. Even when Malcolm, aka the most popular guy in school, starts dating and professes his love for her I just didn’t get it. I could understand Liv’s attraction to Malcolm because apparently he’s the guy all the girls want. He’s also a true gentleman who is sensitive too.
But the reason Malcolm loved and adored Liv? That perhaps was the biggest mystery of the novel for me.

Initially, he seemed to be intrigued by her because she didn’t come from money, wasn’t up his rear end, and was into art too, but she had no personality and just wasn’t there. I just don’t get it.

Thankfully, she dies and all of a sudden she starts to become more interesting. Who knew death could do that to a girl?

Gabe, the outcast who can see ghosts and isn’t part of a Gabe-Liv-Malcolm love triangle (THANK GOD), notices Liv’s ghost and convinces Malcolm to help out. The reason was Liv killed and her connection to all of the other ghosts in the boarding school was quite interesting and watching the three try to work out a plan and solve this mystery was the best part of the book.

That and watching Gabe and Malcolm become friends. The two would have never crossed paths if Liv was alive, but considering how alone both felt watching them bond and get closer was great. You don’t really get to see two guys becoming friends in YA novels. Usually, the two guys become love interests for the girl and duke it out for her. But in this instance Liv is dead, thus Gabe and Malcolm don’t have any obstacles for their friendship to Bloom. (pun definitely intended)

Another great thing in the novel was hearing all of the stories from the dead girls. All told in first person, the ghosts recount how they died and show more life and personality then many of the characters in the book. There were times when I wanted to read more from them, but sadly they suffer from being dead so it’s kind of hard for that to happen.

Overall: Are there problems, yes. I still feel like Liv could have been developed a bit more and that her relationship with Malcolm didn’t feel so weird. I just don’t get the love they have for each other. I mean, they were only on like three dates before she kicks the bucket and they clearly didn’t know enough about each other for anything other than physical love (aka lust) to really develop between the two. They did share some things, but Liv wasn’t a real person when that happened so I couldn’t get into it.

However, once she dies and the real mystery takes over I was able to forgive all of that. I like boarding schools, secret societies, and ghosts, so unless there was a love triangle that took over the entire story and the mystery aspect was kept to a few pages or if the characters in the novels had all of the annoying traits that I tend to hate and the writing was horrible, then I was probably going to enjoy this book. It could have been better, but I liked it.

Liv, Forever was provided by edelweiss.

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