Monday, August 2, 2010

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Author: Maggie Stiefvater 
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls Series #2
Pages: 362
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: July 13, 2010
How Received: Library (finally! <3)

Summary: In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past... and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves... and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love - the light and the dark, the warm and the cold - in a way you will never forget.

 My Thoughts
Linger really danced to its own tune -- the overall tone and atmosphere of the book radically transitioned from a desperate, urgent love story in Shiver to a more passive, heart-breaking tale of four emotionally crushed teenagers that delves into the complexities of their backgrounds and personalities. Sam and Grace are forced into fighting for their love, overcoming one burden, only to be presented with the next, all the while dealing with the pain of separation and the looming knowledge that something's happening to Grace that neither are willing to admit. Isabel, making a reappearance as a new POV, has her own demons to deal with: self-inflicted guilt over Jack, conflicting emotions over Sam and Cole, and her unwillingness to feel the pain that's subsiding within her. We're introduced to a new character, Cole -- a boy who chose the 'werewolf' lifestyle -- who turns out to be as damaged as Sam; he comes off as aloof, cynical, and cocky, but redeems himself towards the end of the novel.

I only recently got a recommendation for the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and by the time I got around to Shiver, Linger had come out. As a new reader, I was able to read the stories back-to-back, which I think really helped me fall in love with Linger. Reflecting on it, I realized that Linger barely had any transitions from its prequel. The reader is suddenly thrust into a story with characters that are already molded and barely summarized. Sure, that's the way series are meant to be read, but what about all the readers that didn't re-read Shiver before picking up Linger? Don't they deserve some love? Also, I didn't like that we got lengthy descriptions of Mercy Falls and the intricacies of the teenage mind, but barely any character descriptions. I kept having to refer back to old passages to re-claim the way a character looked.

One thing that really bothered me was the timeline for Linger. I'm a bit obsessive compulsive with time and I've gotten used to actually having a timeline in a story (e.g. Harry Potter or House of Night). A school isn't always required for a timeline -- months are great, too. But in Linger, all we have are seasons. I was a bit frustrated at the beginning of the series because I didn't know where I was compared to Shiver. There were a couple of places that said, "A few months" and then Grace had commented on making her New Years' Resolution, throwing me off balance yet again. After thinking on it, I realized it meant that Grace had made her Resolution a few months later, but it had been confusing, nonetheless.

The pacing was slow enough to frustrate/bore me at times. As a writer myself, I loved the fact that she incorporated a plethora of details about the world around her. Maggie's writing is phenomenal, and her prose was what drew me in initially (alongside the plot, of course). I love the fact that we get to read about the mundane aspects of the characters' relationships, as it gives insight to the characters, how they strengthen their bonds, and their overall personalities. However, it lagged. I kept getting up for breaks and my mind kept wandering to Facebook. The only time I was ever engaged in the book (to the point where I couldn't put it down) were the last forty or so pages.

The alternating POVs were a fresh contrast to Sam's and Grace's POVs. I'm not that fond of books with shifting POVs; however, I didn't mind it as much in Shiver or Linger because it gave us further insight to the budding relationships of our teenage lovers. Isabel and Cole had me laughing, empathizing, crying -- it was really engaging, and the pair almost usurped my love for Sam and Grace. Almost. I can say with a definite declaration, though, that Cole is now my new favorite character in this series. <3

Linger's ending was amazing -- ironic, urgent, and leaving you yearning for more! My only [very small] problem with the ending was that it was too reminiscent of Shiver's ending. The characters have 320 or so pages to contemplate the situations at hand -- Sam turning into a human and Grace turning into a wolf -- yet only do so the last 20/30 pages in spur of the moment decisions. But alas, it's a very small, nit-picky concern. I knew it might have happened at some point, but the fact that Grace had finally transformed into what Sam attempted so desperately to escape was undeniably ironic. "The cure" left me wondering and suddenly very eager for Forever's release. I can't wait to see how Maggie Stiefvater will wrap this series up!

Cover Musings: The cover was what made me decide to move this series up to my TBR list. As for Linger itself, wow. Just wow. I loved seeing the woods that Grace's "wolf-self" seemed so entranced with. I always assumed the girl walking through the trees was foreshadowing, so it made me love the cover even more. The red blot above the "i" sticks out with the rest of the color scheme -- not just the black letters for the titles, but the green as well -- and it really reels you in. I have to agree with Maggie's acknowledgement to her jacket designer, Chris Stengel: he is a graphic god! Aesthetically, Linger is up there in my favorites.

Memorable Quotes
This is a love story. I never knew there were so many kinds of love or that love could make people do so many different things. I never knew there were so many different ways to say good-bye.
I rolled my eyes toward her and she added, "It’s like you never wear clothes. You’re always naked when I see you."
Could I believe the science concocted in a hospital cafeteria over lukewarm coffee and crumpled napkins? It was all I had.
"Or even tell me it’s because you could not live without The Boy’s stunning Boyfruits for another night."

Rating: 5/5

Overall & Final Comments: I have a love/dislike relationship with Linger.  I fell in love with Shiver, and I felt for it on a deeper, more profound level in Linger. I love the plot, the characters (old and new), and the mystery revolving around the wolves. There are things that I disliked about the novel, such as pacing and lack of timeline, but honestly, they're negligible compared to the novel overall. I was SO happy to finally get a chance to read this, and I can't think of a better way to sum up my final thoughts other than this: I loveloveloved it! <3