The Forever Man: W.A.R.P., Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Forever Man: W.A.R.P., Book 3 Book Poster Image
Action-packed finale lacks wow factor of first two books.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

After a hint of Victorian London life at the beginning, the rest of the story takes place in a small village in 17th-century England. Readers learn a bit about the dialect, the weaponry, and the fear of witches back then. And, as with all books dealing with time travel, readers can think about its implications and some of the same what-ifs from this book.

Positive Messages

The No. 1 message of time-travel books always seems to be: Don't mess with time travel. Greedy, power-hungry souls will always find a way to profit from it. In The Forever Man, people's fears are used against them to keep them under control and not thinking for themselves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Chevie and Riley are great main characters in this series. They're both clever and brave and always want to do what's right. Unlike the enemy, they make a point of not killing if they can help it. Also worth noting: Chevie is a Native American teen who embraces her heritage.

Violence

Deaths from gunshots, a knife cutting a throat, molten metal melting off a face, a heart attack from fright, cannon recoil, matter manipulated and sucked up into the wormhole, and a cannon breaking two giant creatures apart so their various pieces float in the air before being sucked into the wormhole. Much talk about burning witches at the stake and how many innocent girls from the village were killed that way. A careful description of how liquid silver can be poured down the throat of a witch. A needle is inserted in an eye as a remedy. Main characters held in torture devices and over a pyre. Skirmishes with hand-to-hand combat and gunfire. Mention of how Chevie's parents died: killed by a bear and in a motorcycle accident when she was young. Talk of the abuse Riley suffered under Garrick's tutelage.

Sex

A few kisses between teens.

Language

Various versions of "hell" and "damn."

Consumerism

The Hobbit, Lady Gaga, some Shakespeare.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Garrick and a minor character smoke. Talk of one FBI agent getting drunk and causing disturbances repeatedly in the 17th-century village he's stuck in. During the story he decides never to drink again. Flashback to Garrick drinking red wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Forever Man is the last book in the W.A.R.P. time-travel trilogy by Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer. The violence is a touch milder than that in Book 1, The Reluctant Assassin, and Book 2, The Hangman's Revolution, but the series as a whole is best for kids already well versed in PG-13 action movies. Deaths are from gunshots, a knife cutting a throat, molten metal melting off a face, a heart attack from fright, cannon recoil, matter manipulated and sucked up into the wormhole, and a cannon breaking two giant creatures apart so their various pieces float in the air before being sucked into the wormhole. The main characters are imprisoned in devices meant to kill them painfully, with talk of administering the "Devil's Brew": molten silver down the throat of a suspected witch. Drinking and a bit of smoking are all done by adults. One adult who spent years drunk and in trouble eventually swears off drinking. Chevie and Riley continue to be equally resilient and smart main characters, making this the rare sci-fi read that will appeal both to boy and girl readers.

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What's the story?

When Riley hears his brother is alive and languishing in notorious Newgate Prison, he's ecstatic. He has his wormhole-vanquished evil boss Garrick's money and will pay any debt to get his brother released. His friend Chevie, a junior FBI agent from the future, is wary of Riley's long-lost brother suddenly turning up, but he accompanies Riley to Newgate anyway. It turns out that Chevie is right -- it is a trap, but it's a worse one than she could have imagined. The assassin Garrick has emerged from the wormhole to exact his revenge and in the scuffle drags Riley and Chevie further back in time with him, back to a small English town in the 17th century where Garrick is already known simply as the Witchfinder -- and on this trip Garrick has brought the town's inhabitants two more witches to burn.

Is it any good?

The first two W.A.R.P. books had that riveting wow factor, making it a surprise that the finale is only pretty good. Maybe it's the 17th-century town setting in THE FOREVER MAN. It can't compete with Victorian or modern London, the settings of the other books. So much of author Eoin Colfer's witty wordplay came from the Victorian dialects and descriptions of the crazy characters that lived there. People on witch hunts are just not very fun. A couple of modern-day characters sneak into the story, but even with a talking dog in the mix, it's not enough.

Or maybe Book 3 isn't as amazing because of Garrick. He's a stunning villain character in Book 1, but in Book 3 he comes back with very few new tricks up his magician sleeves -- well, except the not-dying part. And readers may find themselves a little too caught up in the why and how of Garrick and other creatures emerging from the wormhole intact. The rules seem to keep changing just in time to suit the story. If Forever Man were more of a stand-alone time-travel tale, readers would walk away satisfied enough, but because we know what wonders Colfer is capable of, it's a bit of a disappointment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about time-travel tales. Which are your favorite? Do you get caught up in the confusion about how it could happen or let some of the uncertainties slide in favor of enjoying the story?

  • Garrick keeps control of the 17th-century English town by instilling fear in the people there. At what real points in history has this been done?

  • Do you think The Forever Man is as exciting as the first two books in the series? Are you satisfied with what happened to all the main characters? Why, or why not?

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