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The Forevers by Chris Whitaker

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Young Adult

By Swirl and Thread

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The Forevers by Chris Whitaker is published with Hot Key Books and is described as ‘the mesmerising YA debut from the winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel 2021 and the New York Times Bestselling author of We Begin at the End.’ Now, unless you have been hiding under a rock, you will know that We Begin at the End, (published March 2020) is a book that took the reading world by storm, capturing the hearts, souls and minds of every reader. Last Thursday, July 22nd, We Begin at the End was crowned Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021. So how do you follow that? Well, Chris Whitaker took a decision to go down a different route and, as a huge fan of teen fiction himself, he decided to try his hand at writing a YA novel, resulting in The Forevers.

Mae, at seventeen years of age, has lived the last ten years of her life under an ominous shadow. An inevitability is that her life, and that of all her friends, will be brief, as an unstoppable asteroid is plummeting toward Earth. Scientists from across the globe have made numerous attempts to change its course but have failed. Selena is the asteroid’s name and Selena is carrying a life-sentence for the world.

Mae lives with her grandmother who is suffering from dementia and her younger sister, Stella, who was born blind following a tragic accident that took the lives of Mae’s parents. Mae has suffered untold pain but with grit and determination, she keeps going. What choice does she have? But for others the truth is too much and life is no longer worth living. When Abi Manton’s body is discovered by Mae at the bottom of a cliff, the obvious questions are asked. Did she jump? Or was she pushed? And does anyone really care?

Mae and Abi were once best friends, creating The Forevers, with matching tattoos on their wrists denoting their togetherness in the world.

‘We rewrote the rules. We chose the forever we dreamed of.
Tolerate, don’t subjugate.
I won’t ask you to live my life, so don’t ask me to live yours.
We made Forever for the creeps and the weirdos, the freaks and the outlaws. We decided we’d be blind to anyone that was blind to us.’

Never one to accept what life throws at her, Mae tracks Abi’s last few days and, although their friendship had fractured over recent times, Mae still cared for her once friend. Mae’s world is collapsing around her. Structure is slowly disappearing. Science cannot save them now. The world will end in thirty days.

A hypothetical question often asked is what would you do if the world was ending? How would you choose to spend those last few days? When faced with your own impending mortality would you lock yourself away from the world or would you embrace the last few days and spend time with people who you connect with, your friends, your chosen tribe? Over the years Mae had built up a wall around herself, protecting herself and her sister from further harm. She was known as being quite belligerent and hostile, making a name for herself and drawing nasty comments from other teenagers. Mae is tough and survival has always been her goal but as the sky changes and Selena draws closer, Mae’s world takes an unexpected shift.

Chris Whitaker sensitively handles many disturbing themes throughout this novel. As Selena hurtles towards earth, the adults are attempting normality by sending their children off to school, going to work and generally continuing with their day. It’s almost like they are in complete denial, always hopeful that the scientists can fix this. The teenage community has had no life beyond Selena. They will now never see adulthood and are more accepting of their fate. This is it…..

The Forevers is a very heart-rending tale. Wistful, affecting, emotional and really, really sad one cannot help but think what if? A bittersweet and stark read, The Forevers, is ultimately a story about the importance of belonging and self-acceptance, a very emotive and thought-provoking novel.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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