Thursday, March 20, 2014

ARC Review: Liv, Forever - Amy Talkington

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington
Genre: YA, supernatural, mystery, romance
Published on March 11, 2014
Published by Soho Teen
Pages: 280
Read From: 3.9.14 - 3.10.14

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 met 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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I have mixed feelings about the cover art. The floating girl is rather attention-grabbing, but the font color and style doesn't work for me. Not sure why; it just doesn't.

Characters: Olivia "Liv" Bloom is a girl with big, yet reasonable, dreams, and relatively good intelligence (I question her when it comes to romantic attraction). I wouldn't say that I became horribly attached to her, but I did really like her. I never did quite decide what I thought of Gabe. I understood where he was coming from, but he packed around so much anger that it got in the way most of the time. I did really like Malcolm. Classic gentleman, kind sense of humor, and a suavete that let him fit in wherever he went. Not the sort of person I would tend to trust if I met him in real life, but in a book, I found him very charming. Is there a lot of depth to these characters? Well, they're not shallow, but there isn't a lot of character development. This is a story driven by plot; not characters.

The Romance: Liv and Malcolm's attraction to one another is most definitely insta-love. I hate insta-love, and as soon as I saw where the romance was going, I felt pretty sure that I wouldn't care for the book all that much after all. It takes Liv no time at all to realize that she can never live without Malcolm, and his reaction is no less extreme. The recipe for what makes me hate insta-love so much. Well, I was wrong. As far as insta-love goes, Liv and Malcolm's relationship is very sweet, and I was surprisingly drawn into it. Maybe I just went into this novel with the right frame of mind. It's not a very long book, and it's pretty clear from the beginning that things are going to move at a fast clip. So I guess what made the insta-love okay (apart from the fact that I liked both Liv and Malcolm) was that it wasn't out of place.

Plot: Olivia Bloom's only chance out of the foster care system is a scholarship to the prestigious and exclusive Wickham Hall. A prep school attended by some of the most famous and richest people have gone. Politicians, CEOs, presidents, lawyers, et cetera. Liv is the furthest thing from old money and the other students there don't let her forget it. But then Liv meets Malcolm Ashton - a son of the oldest money there, and also the one person who treats Liv like she's someone special. Between finally having a studio big enough to pursue her beloved art and the whirlwind of falling in love with Malcolm, life is finally going her way. Until she's murdered. Liv doesn't know who did it and she certainly doesn't know why, but she isn't the first. Wickham Hall has a hidden history of murdered girls, their deaths always posed as suicides, and their tortured souls are still haunting the campus. Gabe, another scholarship student and a loner, is the only one who can both see and hear the ghosts. Liv is determined to solve the riddle of who killed her and the other girls, why, and more importantly - what is their connection to Malcolm and the mysterious secret society he belongs to? I admit, I am a fan of boarding school stories, even ones set in modern times. I've never wanted to go to a boarding school, but I have always loved reading about them. So add onto this boarding school a murder, ghosts, and a mysterious secret society and you've got me hooked. Liv, Forever is a very fast-paced novel. It doesn't spend a ton of time exploring characters or even the world (though Wickham Hall is certainly fleshed out well enough) - it tells the Reader what it needs to know and moves on. It also isn't the most spooky book I've ever read, but it still has its goosebump moments. More than anything, though, it's just engaging. Sometimes a fast-paced whodunit with specters and possible blood rituals is exactly what one needs, and Liv, Forever is one of those.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. There are periodic "half chapters" where we get to read each murdered girls' story, and these are probably the most chilling moments. The writing style is partially what sold me on this novel. Be forewarned: a thorough enjoyment of Liv, Forever requires an appreciation - or at least a working knowledge - of art history. Liv is a passionate artist, and she references a lot of different works of art and their painters. Some of them are common knowledge, some of them not; all of them are encountered in practically every Art History or Humanities college class. So you don't have to be an art nerd, but having taken an Art History or Humanities class will help you understand what Liv is talking about - and it will also add a certain originality and personal voice to the narration. It very much feels like you are in Liv's head. This is a feast of visuals.

Content: None.

Conclusion: It's a little easy to guess, but I wouldn't say that it lessens the enjoyment of this book. The climax is still interesting, and the conclusion is rather bittersweet, which is really the only way it could end. If you're looking for a fast-paced, easy weekend read of ghosts and secret societies, Liv, Forever is a great pick. Beautiful writing, likable characters, and an engaging read, you really can't go wrong with it (unless you hate art references, in which case, this probably isn't the book for you). Yes, there is insta-love; no, there isn't a ton of character development. And this is probably a tiny bit of a cliche haunted boarding school story. But the insta-love works surprisingly well, this isn't a character-driven book, and I just really, really liked it.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, great for fans of boarding school and/or ghost stories.


  1. Hmm, I'll probably pass on this one, but nice review! I agree, the cover seems a little odd and insta-love...grr. And I can't stop thinking about Mr. Wickham with that school name! :D

    1. It definitely isn't a book for everyone, and hinges a bit on mood. *laughs* Actually, I had the same problem, but it rather works. ;)


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