Finally! The potential of the last two books has made an appearance! Sort of. After a bit of feet dragging (once even quite literally) Anne is finally taking matters into her own hands with figuring out the fate that has been laid out for her. She makes the attempt of facing her problems head-on, although it did take her a good while to get there, even in this book.
Anne has three concerns in this novel. One: figure out how to stop our main villain from the previous two novels, whose nefarious schemes are revealed to be more of the delusional grandeur type coupled with a search for revenge. Two: determine how best to resolve the problems of the somewhat enemy introduced in Book Two, who was a previous victim of main Big Bad. And Three: resolve all of her romantic dilemmas because yes, Anne seems to be emotionally stunted in the fact that she still hasn't resolved her issues surrounding Ethan and Ben.
The action was good. My opinion is that the non-stop action is what boosted this book way up past its predecessor. There wasn't time for Anne to meander around in her cloud of denial with everything that was happening in this book. Events moved swiftly. New key facts were given in nearly every section of the novel. The plot moved, it had a purpose, and because of this, Anne was forced to grow up in a sense and take her destiny in hand before it did the work for her. The book format followed the same first-person narration with alternating chapters as the previous two books did with the added insight of the Big Bad in a few places.
Almost everything worked.
Yep. Still had a few, well, glitches that made me twitch a bit concerning elements of this story. I can almost forgive the fact that the unresolved love triangle was solved without Anne's doing anything to fix the mess she'd made. I've always felt that the guys stuck in love triangles look weak when they both love the same girl and then they're stupid enough to fight each other and continue to pursue the girl at any cost. Here, Anne ends up learning that Ben decided to move on and go out with someone else after all the mixed signals he was getting from her. Power to you, Ben. Even better is the fact that he moved on with Tess, which had a poetic justice feel to it after all of Anne's wishy-washy attitude and her inability-to-commit schtick she had going in the last book and in this one. Still, it made me twitch that Anne avoided her problem and it got solved without her having to lift a finger. She didn't really feel any remorse for how she'd treated Ben and I think that sends the wrong message out about this character overall. It gives the impression that teenage girls don't take responsibility for their actions and the harm that they can cause to others. Luckily, the action kept moving so readers weren't left with having to suffer through Anne's lack of personal character concerning all things love and they could focus on other things, like when was the Big Bad finally going to bite the dust.
I also had a problem with the constant blaming of Ethan. I didn't mention it before but in Haunted both Anne and Tess held on to a strong belief that if it weren't for their meeting Ethan in Dreaming Anastasia, they would all be leading peaceful lives like normal teens. Everything that has happened to Anne is a result of her blood, her ancestry, and by this point in the trilogy things have progressed far beyond anything that Ethan could have caused and yet there is the constant belief amongst these characters that Ethan is the cause of all of Anne's problems. It got extremely repetitive and altogether exceedingly annoying. Then you add that Anne's dad says the same thing, Ben thinks this as well, and even Anne's mom Laura, who is more in the loop of things and should know better, seems to agree and it all starts to go past what is deemed acceptable and makes me wonder if the author had some kind of point or idea that she meant to explore but just never fleshed it out enough in the books.
The past exploration of family grief and loss is just abandoned in this book. We had some semblance of truly despairing details concerning Anne's mother, Laura, throughout the whole book that was given a type of neat little ending in the "A Month Later" section. Unacceptable. That woman has so much physically and mentally wrong with her and what? Just snap your fingers and all the messy stuff is solved and has gone away? Anne never truly tried to work with her mother and her grief and then we find out that her dad ignored all the problems Laura was having, too. They are a family skilled in the methods of denial, so of course, the true family essence is lost in this book. Ignorance is bliss, apparently.
And finally, Anastasia. Why name the book Anastasia Forever if she's not central to the story? The plot is more a branch off of the story developed in Dreaming Anastasia, which means that Anastasia is not a main character like she was before but certain events are explored from different angles in which she was a participant in before she died. Anastasia had a hand in the developments which caused the Big Bad to do what they did but it just doesn't seem fitting to give the book this title. I thought it meant that her story would be explored once again, maybe with some new twist, but that wasn't the case. Sad really, but it's just a minor quibble I have compared to the other things I've mentioned about this book.
Anastasia Forever Rating: 6 Stars.
This book is the final part of a trilogy, so I might want to give it more stars but that's more likely a reaction to the improvement seen from the second book to this one. This one still had problems with character development and the action is good, the book moved along great with all the action, but it's almost as if all this book was is action so even though the book was good, 6 is the highest this rating can go. Also when you compare this book to Dreaming Anastasia, the plot and character elements from the first book, where Preble used Anastasia's grief and showed her life as a kind of parallel to Anne, just makes THAT story just so much stronger.
Overall Trilogy Rating: 5 Stars
The trilogy was good, I guess, but there was so much unexplored potential that never hit the mark. For this series to have gotten a higher rating, I would have wanted some more character development concerning Book Two. Things changed in ways that could have been acceptable if the characters had actually learned anything. Instead, Anne made a bunch of mistakes, horrible mistakes, and no one called her out on it so she continued to treat people horribly and I just can't accept that. Then there was barely any character development in the last installment which just makes me want to bang my head in frustration because damnit, I wanted this series to be great and it wasn't.