Having loved every word written by Chris Whitaker, I could not have been happier than to receive a copy of his first Young Adult book, The Forevers. My enormous thanks to Molly Holt at Bonnier Books for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.
The Forevers was published by Bonnier Young Adult imprint Hot Key Books on 8th July 2021 and is available for purchase in all good bookshops and online including here.
What would you do if you knew the world was going to be destroyed by a huge asteroid in one month? 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.
They knew the end was coming. They saw it ten years back, when it was far enough away in space and time and meaning.
The changes were gradual, and then sudden.
For Mae and her friends, it means navigating a life where action and consequence are no longer related. Where the popular are both trophies and targets. And where petty grudges turn deadlier with each passing day. So, did Abi Manton jump off the cliff or was she pushed? Her death is just the beginning of the end.
With teachers losing control of their students and themselves, and the end rushing toward all of them, it leaves everyone facing the answer to one, simple question…
What would you do if you could get away with anything?
My Review of The Forevers
The world will be annihilated in a month.
Being used to Chris Whitaker’s adult fiction it took me a short while to attune to his YA writing and to grasp the UK setting, but it wasn’t long until I was as entranced as ever because Chris Whitaker has the ability to ensnare the reader without them realising.
The Forevers can be enjoyed on so many levels. It’s perfectly possible to read The Forevers as a straightforward coming of age story about a group of young people with Mae at the heart of the action, and it would be totally entertaining with that approach. However, The Forevers is so much more. Over the timeframe of a month Chris Whitaker has managed to distil the very essence of humanity into a microcosm of the world that is absorbing, moving and terrifyingly prescient. Whilst the threat of an asteroid capable of wiping out the world is almost science fiction, the themes of morality, choice, loyalty and faith add a profound layer to the more familiar ones of family and friendship so that this is a book that echoes in the mind long after the final page is turned. The Forevers is a love story, a thriller, a murder mystery, a social commentary, a dystopian prediction, and above all else, a brilliantstory. When I’d finished reading The Forevers I felt quite unsettled, wondering how I might react in similar circumstances, because the writing is so thought provoking.
There are disturbing and challenging concepts that make The Forevers so important. Without wishing to spoil the story for others, I would say Chris Whitaker doesn’t shy away from difficult issues like sexuality, physical and sexual abuse, bullying, grief, addiction and so on, making the book a narrative that can support young adult readers whilst entertaining them. I thought the way themes were woven into the plot so that the reader learnt about them at the same time as Mae was sublime. Having begun the read unsure if I would find it as affecting as other books by this author, I ended up completely moved, affected and changed by its impact. Alongside such intelligent and important themes there is also a cracking plot. Opening in dramatic fashion with a death, Chris Whitaker leads his reader through a cleverly orchestrated story where frequently not everything is as it seems. I adored this aspect of the text.
I loved meeting the characters. Mae’s feistiness, her aggression and hard exterior are all perfectly balanced by her fierce loyalty and vulnerability so that she becomes a kind of Everywoman. She also has a fabulous wit and humour that alleviates the desperate situation everyone is living through. Every single person in The Forevers is vivid and three dimensional, but, rightly, it is the young people who hold the attention the most. I adored Felix’s efforts in love, frequently wanted to slap Hunter and hold and comfort Hugo, because these young people reminded me of those I’ve taught in the past as they felt so real.
The Forevers is one of those books it’s hard to review without spoiling the read for others, but, even though I’m 40+ years older than the target audience, I found it hugely entertaining, frequently morally terrifying and totally disquieting. I thought The Forevers was excellent.
About Chris Whitaker
Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks, All the Wicked Girls and We Begin at the End. All three books were published to widespread critical acclaim, with Tall Oaks going on to win the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award.
An instant New York Times bestseller and the #1 Indie Next Pick, We Begin at the End was also a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, a Barnes & Noble Book Club Pick and a Good Morning America Buzz Pick. It is shortlisted for both the Gold and the Steel Dagger Awards, and for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year.
When not writing, Chris works at his local library, where he gets to surround himself with books.
Chris lives in the UK with his wife and three children.