Book Reviews: Shiver and Linger

Thursday, September 30, 2010

by Maggie Stiefvater

At age 11, Grace is attacked by a pack of wolves in the woods behind her house. She survives, but becomes obsessed with them, one in particular. Years later, as a teen, she discovers that "her wolf" is really a werewolf named Sam. He lives as a teenager during the summer months and as a wolf during the cold winter months.

I was surprised that it was so well written. It would have been easy to make the characters come across as whiny teens, but Stiefvater manages to avoid that. One things that I found incredibly disturbing with this book was the portrayal of parents. All of the major parents are selfish, absent people who should never have had children. It was both sad and disturbing to think of the emotional damage they've done to their kids. Both Sam and Grace have had to grow up quickly because of all they've been through.

I liked the fact that Sam is the artistic one of the two and Grace is more pragmatic and logical. I think my favorite scene of the book takes place in a candy shop. It's both sweet and intimate, without being too sappy. I really enjoyed this first installment and will continue the series.


by Maggie Stiefvater

Instead of a sequel, Linger feels a bit like a rehashing of Shiver, except some of the roles are reversed. It felt much more contrived to me. In the first book the main couple fights to find a way to keep Sam human. In the second it's Grace who is now showing signs of becoming a wolf.

Sam and Grace, who we got to know in Shiver, seem to play against character in Linger. Responsible Grace decides to throw caution and ambition to the wind, sweet-natured Sam is dealing with anger and frustration. Grace's parents', who are absent in every sense of the word, become incredibly interested in controlling their daughter's life. It just doesn't follow in the same vein as the first book.

I still enjoyed reading Linger, but it didn't impress me. One of the new characters, Cole, is a selfish jerk that I couldn't make myself care about at all. Isabel gets a bit more of a voice in this second installment, but even that never seems to get below the surface. Instead of getting to know her better we just learn that she can't resist the charming Cole... who isn't charming.

I liked reading about Sam's struggle with becoming a leader, which felt real to me. On the other hand, Sam's songs and poems became annoying fast. I'm not a fan of the overly saccharine and found myself rolling my eyes when he would burst into song.

In the end, I think my major complaint is that Linger feels immature where Shiver feels mature. It lapses back into some of the teenage clichés the first one so deftly avoided. I'm not sure if I'll read the next one or not. I'm pretty forgiving with series and have found that the second book is often the weakest of the bunch.


Teacher/Learner said...

Thanks for the review. I love the covers! I've seen them on different blogs but no one's reviewed them lately. It must be part of the Twilight fan craze :oD

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed Shiver :) I have yet to read Linger but I'm hesitant. I might wait until the third book is released to read it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Teacher - I love the covers too. I think that's one of the main reasons I read them.

Iris - I almost wish I waited until the 3rd book was out to read the whole series. I don't know if I attached enough now to continue it.

Jenners said...

It seems so typical that the first book is the strongest. I find that so often in series.

And most reviews I've read of "Shiver" have been positive ... often to the reviewer's surprise.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great reviews! I preferred Shiver to Linger too, but what lost me was the too many different voices in Linger. I'm still looking forward to Forever though.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kay - I agree, there were too many voices and it was hard to switch back and forth.