Saturday, 16 November 2013

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater's second novel in the Shiver trilogy continues with the love story between Grace and Sam--human and werewolf. Starting out, it was pretty obvious the direction of the book was going--back into werewolf territory and I wasn't sure I wanted that to happen. For one thing, it made the book and its conclusion slightly predictable and for another, it was going to throw a wrench into Sam and Grace's already tortured relationship. Bah. Teen romances!

I have to say that I did like Shiver better than Linger. Shiver had me hooked onto every word. This book had a different kind of suspense that was more akin to dread than suspense. I dreaded what I knew was coming in the end and it was just a matter of pages before the inevitable happened (no spoilers here). I'm not really a fan of books like that. I like to suspect, but not KNOW. I never flip to the end or peek. I like to suspect or think that I know, and then I like to have the world ripped out from under me. Okay, that's a little dramatic, but I hate being right about a plot point that's painfully obvious to me. Especially when Shiver seemed like it was going to be obvious and then did a fantastic job with building up to a fantastic cliffhanger. Linger had fewer twists and turns and that was a slight disappointment. 

I do appreciate Stiefvater's development of the adult characters in this book. At one point, Grace's parents catch Sam sleeping in their daughter's bed and they throw him out, ground her--do the whole parental thing. I couldn't help but applauding the parents in this teen romance novel. Thank you for finally being aware that your child is doing something wrong (no matter how sad we are that the sexy supernatural love interest has been booted out and we get less of the couple being together and adorable). This was a surprisingly refreshing decision on Stiefvater's part.

A new character, Cole St. Clair, is thrown into the mix, but do not despair, Stiefvater is not feeding us a a typical, boring love triangle! Cole is complicated, tortured, and not necessarily likeable. Even better, he does not harbour an all-consuming love for Sam's girl. He has his own role to play in the plot and his own set of problems to deal with.

Drugs, sex, psychological trauma, violence, illness, parental/family drama, and more are all woven into the plot. Stiefvater writes a refreshing amount of realism into her characters. The fact that this is a story about teens who turn into werewolves is only one aspect of a larger story. 

While I was a bit disappointed into the overall "WOW" factor of the book, Stiefvater's writing is a breath of fresh air in teen romance. She writes believable characters--with real problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and addiction, with a dash of the supernatural world that makes this series even more addictive.

I'd give this book 3.5/5, but Shiver gets a 4/5 from me. I do suspect that like most trilogies or short series, the middle book lays the ground work that will make Forever (the final book) finish off the series with a bang.

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