Few books are as highly anticipated as Maggie Stiefvater’s Linger, the sequel to Shiver. Both are works of beauty and showcase the author’s artistic and expert command of the written word. The first words that come to mind to describe Linger are: beautiful, elegiac, intense, raw. Upon further reflection, there are others that also creep in: frustrating, lethargic, predictable. (Please read on before you start leaving nasty comments. This is just one person’s opinion.)
In Linger, Stiefvater once again creates the most beautiful pictures in your mind with well-chosen words. It’s almost like she paints them first, and then translates them into writing. My favorite quote is in Chapter 13:
I could still smell the church scent of the blown-out match, see the reflection of the flame in my mother’s eyes, feel the soft cushion of the kitchen chairs under my skinny, folded-up legs.”
Freakishly beautiful and observant, yes? The whole book is filled with these gems. You could drown in them and be perfectly happy to die. Here’s another favorite, which takes place during what is, hands down, the hottest rated-PG bathtub scene in literature:
His mouth tasted like wolf and salt, and when he put his hand at the base of my neck to pull me closer, lukewarm water trailed down my collarbone into my shirt and between my breasts.”
Also praiseworthy is Stiefvater’s ability to create a variety of characters from many walks of life. Sam is such a good guy, that readers who love a bad boy will be completely taken with Cole St. Clair who is, for lack of a better word, hot. He is also, clearly, a foil to Sam, since his motives for being a wolf are so different from Sam’s. He’s a character of reckless action and irresponsibility, and seems to have all the trappings of “the bad guy.” Similar to Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, readers are never quite sure if Cole can be trusted. He and Isabel practically sizzle off the pages.
The plot is where readers may be slightly disappointed. The focus shifts from Sam and Grace to Cole and Isabel, a character largely unlikable in Shiver. Readers may initially resist this shift, but I actually grew to like her more than Grace. (And this is where I have to ask you to hold your tomatoes.) Isabel becomes the voice of reason in Linger, shaking Grace and Sam out of their denial, which, I have to say, is infuriating. Isabel says it herself:
So it comes down to me being the voice of reason,” Isabelle snapped. “How ironic. The unlistened-to voice of reason.”
Isabel is practical. Sam and Grace are not. They actually drove me crazy with their oh-so-deep connection and failure to act on a problem that is made perfectly clear at the beginning of the book. They seemed unusually sluggish, refusing to acknowledge a critical issue until it is almost too late. I understand this is necessary to create tension, but it may also leave readers shaking their heads … or the book.
However, rest assured that Stiefvater’s genius once again reveals itself during the last few pages with a twist and plenty of food for thought.
For me, those final pages are what saved Linger from becoming a middle-of-a-trilogy filler.