Saturday, April 10, 2010

YA Sequel to Shiver: Linger

Wolves of Mercy Falls #2
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 20, 2010)

SUMMARY: Just a few months ago, it was Sam who was the mythical creature. His was the disease we couldn't cure. His was the good-bye that meant the most. He had the body that was a mystery, too strange and wonderful and terrifying to comprehend. But now it is spring. With the heat, the remaining wolves will soon be falling out of their wolf pelts and back into their human bodies. Sam stays Sam, and Cole stays Cole, and it's only me who's not firmly in my own skin.

I won an ARC copy of Linger and decided to read it for my YA Week. Maggie Stiefvater is a new author to me but I had read good things about the first book in this series, Shiver. The book is written in first person POV (point of view) and alternates between four characters, with their name at the top of the chapter or section when it's their point of view. Though this was a little odd, it worked, and I had no trouble following the characters thoughts and actions.

Linger is a paranormal YA novel revolving around werewolves. The two main characters, Sam and Grace, have been through a "cure" which was part of the plot in the first book, Shiver. I found their relationship touching and romantic. Though there are sexual elements they aren't detailed. The book examines their emotions more than a physical relationship.

Cole, a new wolf who seems to have trouble staying in his wolf form, and Isabel, Grace's friend, are emotionally damaged. Cole rarely allows people to see his true self, and instead gives off a cocky, no care vibe. Isabel feels responsible for her brother's death and never truly lets her guard down, even for her closest friends. She's gruff and angry most of the time, though she is a loyal friend to Grace and Sam. She finds herself attracted to Cole, though she knows it's the worst thing she could do.

I found Linger to be an intense, rather difficult read at time. All of the main characters are damaged or dysfunctional in some way, adults and teenagers alike. Grace and Sam were my favorite characters, but even they had trouble being honest with each other in some instances. Difficult is not always bad. I have read many books in which the main characters are working through very difficult experiences. When I was reading Linger though, I felt overwhelmed at the sadness and anger of the characters. Much of the author's writing is descriptive and beautiful, yet the dialog had a tendency to be short and to the point most of the time. It didn't ring true to me that all the characters would be this way. Sam and Cole had been wolves, and yes, their dialog would perhaps be more direct and no nonsense, but would everyone else?

I found myself wondering if the characters would ever find resolution. The circumstances were so horrendous at some points I had to take a break from reading. I said something to my 15 year old son about the book as I was reading it, and he commented "Good books aren't always happy." I realized he is correct. Because I found Linger to be sad and overwhelming does not mean it's a badly written novel. It simply means that I felt the characters were so dysfunctional that it was a hard read for me personally.

I did love the relationship between Grace and Sam. I felt they truly loved each other and that their love was emotionally healing for both of them. After reading about the first book, I really think I would have enjoyed that a bit more than Linger.

Mom Notes: There was one adult in Linger that was supportive, but she was in one small scene with Sam. All other adults in the book were bitter, mean and uncaring. I am not naive and I know parents who are like that, unfortunately. I did notice there were mentions of adult werewolves that cared for Sam in the first book, Shiver, and they appeared to love him and care about him, but they were not present in Linger. There are issues with drugs and sex, but the author does handle it well, and I didn't feel it was over the top. The book's main theme seems to be about the consequences of our choices, which is something we all need to learn. I wish the author had given us a little more humor or perhaps lightness to offset the darkness of the plot.

The author plans to have three books in this series. You can keep up to date with her at these websites and social networks: