Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2) - Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy
# of pages: 368 (hb)
Recommended for: HS readers and beyond!
For some reason, I've kinda farted around with putting up my Linger review, and I'm sorry for that! Have you ever had no problem getting through a book only to have a hard time writing its review?
Linger was as amazing and enjoyable as Shiver, but they had somewhat different tones. In my opinion, Shiver's tone was more urgent and melancholy, while Linger, because of a somewhat slower pace, delivered a tone of subtle foreboding. It wasn't until the last few chapters that Linger *took off* and really, really accelerated. In the meantime, the slower storyline allowed more a deeper look at characterization, and of course, Maggie's characters neither bored nor disappointed.
I was actually very impressed with the characterization of this story. Yes, there are 4 perspectives here as compared to only 2 in the previous book. Isabel is now a main character, and a new character named Cole is introduced. I was a little wary going in to Linger about this setup, and in all honesty, I was prepared to skim the I&C segments, just because I had already told myself that Grace and Sam "were the important ones." Well, I quickly changed my tune. I loved how Maggie incorporated all 4 narratives into the overall story, and I think it was a really smart move story-wise. Isabel and Cole are more complex than Sam and Grace, even though all 4 characters have dysfunctional elements (do you guys notice that pretty much all of the main characters come from varying degrees of crappy families?). What made characterization of this story so enjoyable to me was a delicate balance of similar and contrasting behaviors - Isabel and Cole are not such polar opposites from Grace and Sam that they have nothing in common. Rather, they compliment each other well: where one is weak, the other is strong, where one is impulsive, the other is cool and controlled. The only little "thing" I had with the 4 narratives was that sometimes perspectives would change multiple times throughout a single chapter, and it made the transitions really abrupt. From what I can remember in Shiver, Grace and Sam for the most part alternated by chapter. Here, there were some occasions were each of the 4 perspectives would be featured in a single chapter, and so the transitioning was just kind of abrupt. But to the author's credit, I always knew who was speaking, and I don't just mean because at the top it said "COLE" or "ISABEL." The voices were so distinct that I quickly got an idea of who was now narrating.
Also what I liked about the characters (and I'm emphasizing Isabel and Cole more) is that while they were all complicated and flawed, they never really used their flaws as crutches. Well, Cole did a little bit, but (without dropping spoilers) he eventually made himself useful and actually started to give a wang about other people. So it was interesting to watch him grow. And Isabel is just about the coolest character since Thalia: I LOVED her so much because while she was snarky and a little on the bossy side, she was a very hands-on, take charge kind of girl, and she was exactly what Sam and Grace needed. I love Sam and Grace, but even they needed a little nudging here and there. Isabel's strengths were balanced by her anxieties, and that made her seem real but also inspiring. I like characters you can not only relate to but also look up to, and there's a lot to be learned from Isabel (in particular). I'm pretty much convinced that Sam Roth is my #2 ideal guy (second only to Percy Jackson, whose fighting skills and hilarious sense of humor charms the socks - and maybe more! - off me). He was excellent, and I love the way Maggie portrayed him, and I love the way she maintained his and Grace's relationship. So many times, in book 2 of a trilogy, it seems like authors take up the "trouble in paradise!" scenario. And while this is the case a little bit here, you get the idea that the characters are battling a SCENARIO, and not EACH OTHER. I appreciate that just for being different and for not being afraid of being sweet and loving. Of course, Sam and Grace's stable relationship was contrasted nicely with Isabel and Cole's rocky, somewhat uncomfortable relationship. But I really liked Isabel and Cole's perspectives and thought that Cole was an incredibly interesting character to "psych." Cole's a very damaged character, to be sure, but what I liked about him is that he still contributed to the plot and made himself useful. He wasn't one of those "I am the way I am and there's nothing wrong with me and there's no need for me to change and who are you to say ANYTHING about ME?!?!?!" Good gracious, I can't stand those characters. He and Isabel especially had their issues, but they still contributed and they still had strengths and they initiated change. And that is what makes the characters of Linger SUBSTANTIAL (again, this is all in my opinion).The only thing about Linger that seemed a little weird to me had absolutely nothing to do with writing or the story or any of that. If you've read Linger, did you find it a little odd that Grace's parents all-of-the-sudden decided to...I don't know...be parents?! They went from totally irresponsible and practically negligent to being all authoritative. I got a little character-whiplash from that! But I think Grace's situation is one of the only times in the reading experiences I can remember where I say, 'Your parents are IDIOTS! You don't have to mind them because they're MORONS!" But anyway, I digress.
All-in-all, an EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT 2nd installment. I cannot wait to find out what will happen next! Final grade:The Wolves of Mercy Falls is a highly recommended series! Don't miss out!