By Amy Talkington
Available now from Soho Teen
The titular Liv is a teenager with an art scholarship to Wickham Hall. She's a bit out of place with the old-money students, but she soon makes friends with fellow, strange scholarship student Gabe and starts dating Malcolm. Okay, so it isn't all good. Gabe claims to see ghosts, for example. But Liv's love for Malcolm smooths over the school's rough edges.
Then Liv dies.
In some ways, I wish that the blurb of LIV, FOREVER didn't give away her death. It's a daring move for the book, and a rare one. The plucky heroine and her friends start realizing something is awry, but they act too late. It's not that Liv does anything stupid. She just doesn't get stupidly lucky, or jump to strange conclusions about supernatural happenings for no reason. All she does is go to a school that could really help her career and fall for a sweet, handsome boy. And because of that, she dies.
Liv, Malcolm, and Gabe work together to uncover who killed Liv. As they do so, they discover that girls have been dying pretty regularly at Wickham Hall. Who done it and why isn't entirely surprising, but the journey there is well done. I liked the little touches, like the fact that Liv can only communicate with Malcolm through Gabe. I liked that debut author Amy Talkington resisted the urge to throw in a love triangle. I loved the glimpses at the lives of the other dead girls, their ambitions and hopes and the injustice of it all.
The mystery plot doesn't take a backseat to the romance, but the romance is the emotional core of LIV, FOREVER. It proceeds pretty quickly, because Liv dies early in the school year and they have to be deeply in love before their death. I mean, it doesn't take much convincing that two good-looking teenagers with similar interests would be into each other, but they got together so fast I was convinced rich-boy Malcolm was up to something nefarious. But the sweetness of their relationship won me over.
If you're looking for a standalone, romantic ghost story, you might pick up LIV, FOREVER. (There is a sequel hook at the end, but LIV, FOREVER can be read alone.) It has a few unique flourishes that make up for the predictable plot. It also contains some of the worst friends ever, seriously.