Review: After Forever (#2, The Ever Trilogy) by Jasinda Wilder

My Thoughts

Emotionally vexing, deeply heartbreaking and beautifully written. 
A story of need in a time of consuming loneliness,
of finding comfort amidst impossible grief.

6stars

Synopsis

after foreverEver,

I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m a castaway. Lost. Drowning. I love you. That’s the only true thing I know, and it’s all I have to hold on to. I love you. I’ll love you forever. Until the day I die, and I’ll love you in whatever world comes after this one. I love you so much, Ever. I miss you. Dear Jesus, I miss you. Come back to me. 

For forever, and after forever,
Caden

 

My Review

“It was just a single spark, a tiny point of light in a world of darkness. But a spark held so much potential. A spark contained all the heat and violence of a wildfire.”

This is Jasinda Wilder’s best work. The way the words ebb and flow on the page, the way the story entwines, tighter and more permanently at every turn… The way my emotions knotted, tensed and constantly changed… The way the characters became so real to me that I felt angry, sad and even sick with fear as the story boldly unfurled… all together made the story remarkable. I thought she destroyed me when I read Falling Into You, but let me tell you that this time, she shatters the boundaries of emotional control, taking us to a place of unyielding emotional turbulence… one that befuddled my sense of right and wrong, that took me from hoping one thing in the beginning, to hoping another thing midway through the story, to simply leaving me at a loss on how to feel at the story’s end. My feelings could simply not get a grip. Whereas the first book in the trilogy is a story of reveling in the rightness of a connection as a way to endure life, this story is about trying to crush a connection to uphold rightness. This connection was awakened in the light of tragedy, defined by pain and enlivened by desire.  It felt wrong. It felt right. But nonetheless, I felt it. Felt every moment of the story’s power. This  is a story that lives in layers, curled and gnarled by feelings of guilt, agony, sadness, pain and longing. It explores the notion of love – how you define it, how you live without it, how it grows and how it fades.

“You promised, Ever. You promised me you’d never leave me. I know you didn’t want to, you didn’t mean to. But you still did, and I’m back to being numb and floating through life, through every day. Except now I don’t even have you, have your letters to keep me tied to the earth.”

Caden is devastated. His life has been irrevocably marred by too much tragedy. But he’s always had Ever. She’s been his unwavering lifeline, but now her lifeline is nothing but a rise and fall of a wave on a hospital machine. With unexpected truths revealed and the very real, very brutal reality of her being in a coma, his life seems over. He finds himself retreating into himself once again in efforts to numb the pain and endure the impossible. Without anyone else to hold on to, both physically and emotionally, he’s forced to rely on Eden… Ever’s twin sister. She becomes his constant companion. A person who battles her own pain, her own demons, but that is committed to helping him get through this… for Ever. Her music is her only release, the notes taking the shape of her pain.

“I let the music pull me under its spell, made it mine and let it take hold and let it take hold and erase all the thoughts within me, all the hurt and confusion. It was my solace, this cello, the music, the sonorous voice singing to me, appealing to the notes of my blood, the eloquence in my hands. It could soothe me, shelter me, for a few moments, from the hurt and the darkness and horrors of being alive and so, so alone.”

The story is written in alternating POVs and for the first time, we get to really know Eden. And I have to say I connected more with Eden than I did with Ever. In Forever & Always, we saw Eden through Ever’s eyes, through her experiences. We knew she struggled with a thin self confidence, fighting her weight issues. We also learn, however, that she wars with feelings of not being good enough, not being worth enough to be loved and respected. She’s been used and dumped by men and perhaps in some way she’s enabled that, falling into the same trap again and again. She desperately longs for more… to find someone who will love and accept her for who she is on the inside and not the curves she boasts physically. Without Ever, however, her battles persist silently and without release. She finds herself needing Cade, his companionship a result of a tragedy she never could have anticipated. When days turn into weeks and then months, they become closer over time, relying on each other to dull the throbbing pain of their shattered hearts. Lines once clearly drawn begin to blur.

“I put my hand on her back, in the center, right over her spine, and held her as she cried. I closed my eyes and stared up at the ceiling, but I saw anyway the curvature of her spine as she bent into my awkward, one-armed hug. The intimacy was disconcerting, right and wrong at the same time, comforting, terrifying, exhilarating and guild-inducing.”

I was so angry at first. I didn’t want any connection to build between Eden and Caden, whether it was simply companionship, physical and certainly anything more. But the more I read, the more palpable their pain became, the more I understood the need to have someone.  The words that flowed across the page bled with agony and I found myself wanting them to hold on to each other to get through it. I wasn’t sure how to process the feelings they felt… how to encapsulate it or define it. Was it an illicit love coruscating in the darkness of grief? Was it simply a impassioned release for pent-up desire? Was it something in between? Carnal and necessary to survival?  The maelstrom of emotions that swirled within them was torturous – a combination of want, comfort, relief and guilt.

“My thoughts were raging out of control, haywire. I thought of Ever, missing her, hating missing her, hating feeling like she was slipping away from me. I hated being so dependent on Eden, hated that I had to see her every day and fight how much she reminded me of Ever and yet how clearly she was her own person, so distinct and so unique that I couldn’t deny having noticed it, having seen it every day for so many weeks.”

It seemed evident after awhile, that two people put in such an intense situation, thrust so close together with an infinite depth of feeling that craved relief, would of course find solace in each other’s arms.  Emotion weltered, unbound and undefined.

“We both stood on the edge of something. I sensed it, and so did he. I felt something building, something that had been burning, an ember glowing deep down, setting slow hot fire that spread, spread, and it was consuming me. Consuming him. I’d been denying the fire, denying its heat, denying its voracious teeth sunk into me.”

The closer they became, the more indelible, more permanently each of their actions seared into the edifice of time. Truths would need to be revealed some day if Ever should wake. Caden, who once again I reiterate is one of the most tragic and tortured characters of whom I’ve read, begins to question everything as he crumbles and fades and wavers with the loss of the only person he’s ever loved in his life.

“I felt Ever slipping away. I found myself less and less able to keep up the one-sided chatter that Eden seemed to produce so effortlessly. Maybe it was I who was slipping away. I was retreating, I knew, back into the numb place I’d lived after Mom died, and even more so after Dad had. I was there again, and it was the only way I’d survive. I couldn’t bear to miss Ever… She was there, breathing, heart beating, but she wasn’t there… I was slipping away.”

The story is awash with emotion, relentlessly and ruthlessly slamming into our two protagonists throughout the story. As the reader, I couldn’t find my bearing, couldn’t understand or process what I felt as the story shifted beneath me. The way in which this author crafted this story is nothing short of beautiful. Her word choices. Her syntax. Her manipulation of the story’s nuances. All reasons that I felt so consumed by this book, by these characters – these tortured souls – who have indelibly left their mark within me. Be warned once again, there is a cliffhanger, but I hope it doesn’t dissuade you from experiencing this book. The final book, Saving Forever, will come February 14th of next year and Jasinda promises we will be happy in the end.

“You and me? We’re something I don’t think English has a word for. We’re thrown together by life… We’re fate companions. Path-mates. That’s something. It’s more than friends… Something… thicker, realer than all of that.”

addseriestogoodreads

Reading Order and Purchase Links

forever and always after forever saving forever

About Jasinda
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jasinda Wilder is a Michigan native with a penchant for titillating tales about sexy men and strong women. When she’s not writing, she’s probably shopping, baking, or reading. Some of her favorite authors include Nora Roberts, JR Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Liliana Hart and Bella Andre. She loves to travel and some of her favorite vacations spots are Las Vegas, New York City and Toledo, Ohio. You can often find Jasinda drinking sweet red wine with frozen berries and eating a cupcake.
Jasinda is represented by Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency.
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Comments

  1. Six stars! What? This book made me physically ill.

    • I actually said the same thing, but I think that’s where the power of it was. It evoked really strong emotions and it was so incredibly well written.

      • Oh, it was greatly written, I just evoked really sting negative emotions from me. Even with the ending I just don’t feel too hopeful. I wish there had been a gap between the first and second books, with the last two being released back to back. I grew up in a household full of women, and having been raised to uphold the bonds of sisterhood, I’m really looking forward to the conversation between Eden and Ever. Unlike you, I connected more with Ever. Eden was just too cloying to me. And Caden is a mess, he needs therapy. He withdrew exactly as his dad did, except he did it with illicit sex and not booze. The third installment needs to be at least 1000 pages if there’s going to be any happy ending that makes sense!

        • Excuse the typos. iPads suck!

        • I totally understand where you are coming from too! And poor Caden… he is a hot mess!!! I am also looking forward to seeing how the showdown between Eden, Ever and Caden will happen. I really want a happier, more uplifting part of the story in this last installment, but I think it will get real ugly before it gets to the happy part! You’re right! It may need to be 1000 pages!!!!

          • It’ll definitely get dirty before everything resolves itself. This series is just too much. I’ve already read another novel and a short story since finishing yesterday. And I’m still furious. Jacinda’s got me f’d up. At least I have people to communicate all this stuff with online. I never even knew that book blogs were a thing! I’ve always just inhaled books and talked to myself about them, like a crazy person.

            P.s. Who is this mystery swimmer who doesn’t talk, and giving me Sea of Tranquility vibes? Hopefully Eden can figure herself out with this one, cause as much as I hate her, she needs peace or she’s going ruin herself.

  2. Awesome review!! I felt so many emotions while reading this story. There were a few times I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room…then I apologized to my baby and told it I’d never actually throw it across the room. 😉

    I can’t wait for book three. I can’t wait to find out who this mystery man is. I can’t wait to see what happens when and if Ever finds out what went on between Eden and Cade.

    FOUR MORE DAYS!!!! LOL!

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