Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sam and Grace are back again in Linger and now that Sam has stopped shifting they are hoping they can finally have their happily ever after. But it is never that easy. Sam has to deal with problems with the new wolves, Grace’s parents don’t want them to see each other, and Grace is suffering from a mysterious illness that may change everything for them both.

When I read Shiver earlier this year, I remember everyone telling me what a great book it was and how it was the next Twilight, but better than Twilight. I remember being so excited to read it and then feeling a little let down by the hype. Was it good? Yes. Was it better written than Twilight? Much! Did I love it? To be completely honest, no, not really. For me it was okay, but it was a book that left me feeling more than a little unsettled. I can’t explain really why I felt this way, but it didn’t hook me the way it has so many. But Stiefvater's poetic language and beautiful descriptions did interest me enough to read the next book in the series Linger.

Once again like Shiver there has been a lot of hype about this book. All over the blogosphere you hear everyone clamoring for Linger raving about it in reviews of advanced reading copies, and loving it. So once again, I thought I would give it a try. Stiefvater is a very talented author. Her descriptions are rich and luxurious, and even though I was reading this book during the hottest days of the year, she has a way of making me believe that I am in the middle of a Mercy Falls, Minnesota cold and icy early spring. I love that about her writing, that it is so rich that it can transport you. Unfortunately for this novel, while her descriptions, characters, dialogue, and narration is spot on, her pacing is off—an unfortunate occurrence in many middle of the series novels.

The narrative of Linger alternates between the voices of the four main characters; Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole, one of the new wolves. Stiefvataer’s transitions between these four characters are flawless and in many cases this allows the reader to see the thought on both sides of the conversations. I have to say that I enjoyed the way this story was told with these four distinct voices. The characters are carefully crafted and I love the introduction of Cole. Being able to see inside the mind of someone who chose to be a wolf is fascinating. Isabel is also more developed as a character this time of around. Of all the four major characters, Isabel and Cole felt the most real to me, and I loved the portions of the story told from their point of view. Grace and Sam just seem too perfect as characters, especially when they are together. I found I liked Grace and Sam better when they were apart or interacting with Isabel or Cole rather than each other, which I realize is silly, since the story is about their romance.

Stiefvater’s dialogue is well done and believable, but sometimes seems awkward with Grace and Sam. This could be because throughout the novel there is so much unsaid between the two of them, and so much they aren’t telling each other, that it really interferes with what is being said. I love it when Isabel comes into the picture and just tells everyone how it is because it really breaks up some of the tension.

My major problem with the novel though, is the pacing. Like many other middle of the series books, this one felt like it was merely a transition to the next book rather than a novel with action that stands alone on its own. I felt like you spend the whole book waiting for something to happen and this causes the story to slow in spots. While the ending is very climactic, and will lead us right into the next book, I just felt the rest of the book was lacking, because it took so long to get to the climax.

The audio version of the book was produced by Scholastic Audio and read by four different narrators, each representing the four main characters. Jenna Lamia reprises her role as Grace in the audio version, and does just as good a job as she did in Shiver. She is a talented and believable voice for Grace, and the narration is spot on. Pierce Cravens narrates the voice of Sam and does a wonderful job making Sam’s thoughts and dialogue sound convincing. Emma Galvin reads the role of Isabel and does a perfect job narrating Isabel’s edge, anger, attitude, and irritation at the events she sees unraveling around her. Finally Dan Bittner, who narrates Cole, performs a strong and convincing narration of the rock star turned wolf. Without the audio version, I might not have finished the book, but their voices and narration kept me interested throughout the novel. Original music from by the author rounds out the audio version, making it all the more enjoyable.

Overall I just felt that there was a lot of going nowhere in this book, and I realize that Stiefvater was building to the conclusion, but there was a lot of emotional baggage to slug through before you got there. It suffers from middle book syndrome, where you spend so much time building the story that you might lose your readers interest. I know that sometimes that has to be done, but it is unfortunate when the book is so slow. On the other hand, this book leads you right in to the third book, and believe me after finishing Linger you are going to want to know what happens next. It is just too bad, that the hook is so deeply buried in this novel, that you don’t feel it until the very end. Stiefvater manages to deliver a stunning conclusion to this novel that makes wading through the rest well worth it. I look forward to, and will definitely be picking up book 3.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some violence, mild language, and discussion of drug use. Some gore.

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So what are your thoughts on Linger? Feel free to comment and disagree!:)