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.
Shiver, the first book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, was one of the most enjoyable reads of 2009. Sam and Grace’s fight to make Sam human and help him lose his wolf side was tragic, heroic, and portrayed with a lightness that showed us that not every love story has to be gloom and doom. Grace was a great heroine, logical, strong, and passionate she defied the stereotype that women in romance have to be weak or subservient.
Linger is the second book in the Mercy Falls Trilogy, and while it does suffer from ‘middle book’ syndrome, it’s still an incredible read. The secret world that we are introduced to in book one is still there, there are still wolves in the woods that turn human when it becomes warm out, Grace’s parents are still failing at parenting, and Sam and Grace are still in love, but now they have a new adversary. Grace begins to develop symptoms of an illness that they can’t explain, and that the doctors seem unable to explain. It seems that Sam and Grace have fought the odds to be together just so that Grace can die while Sam watches, helpless to save her.
Isabel becomes more of a character than she was in the first book, and we are introduced to a new character. Cole St. Clair. Cole was a rock star before Beck changed him into a wolf, and his reasons for wanting the change make him a great foil for Sam, who is utterly perplexed by the lack of attachment that Cole feels for his human form. Cole is the one who ultimately figures out what is wrong with Grace, and what is killing all of the Mercy Falls Wolves.
While Shiver worked as a stand alone book and as part of a trilogy, Linger needs both the previous book and the following book in order to make sense. None of the new plot threads are wrapped up comfortably, and the cliffhanger is near infuriating. Therein lies the books greatest strength. Stiefvater successfully makes us care about every character. Even Isabel and Cole, who are horribly flawed, is written in such a way that everyone can identify with them. Splitting the narrative four ways instead of two does create a new challenge though, not flipping ahead to find out what happens to your favorite character is a constant trial, but a rewarding one. The four perspectives come together to create a more balanced view, and Cole provides a good break from the love story.
Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favorite Young Adult authors for many reasons. She’s funny, clever, obviously well-read, and truly dedicated to her characters and her readers. All of her readers should check out her blog, which is updated regularly. Forever is the final book in the series.