Linger: The devour or savor dilemma

Linger (Book 2, Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy) by Maggie Stiefvater; published by Scholastic, New York, 2010; 360 pages.

What a wonderful world.  The “cure” has worked.  Sam is now very human all year long; no more dreading the cold.  He and Grace can be together all the time.  Yet all is not perfect in Mercy Falls.  Olivia, now a wolf, hasn’t been seen since her transformation.  Isabel, still reeling with guilt at her brother Jack’s death, is still edgy but those edges are beginning to soften.  Ah, and Cole, one of Beck’s last “creations,” wants to remain a wolf full-time, to lose himself in an instinctual life.  Sam has to take Beck’s role as caretaker for the pack, so all of these issues weigh heavy on him; as does a mysterious illness gradually making Grace weak and frighteningly sick.  When Grace’s parents find Sam in Grace’s bedroom, life takes on another kind of transformation in which the wonderful world suddenly spins out of control.

Oh, the dilemma I faced.  I loved Shiver so much that I almost dreaded reading the sequel.  Could Stiefvater keep up the remarkable craft of narrating from two perspectives?  Would the story be as compelling?  Once I started reading, I was faced with another dilemma: Should I devour this book or savor it (you know I want to say “linger,” don’t you! 😉 )?  Well, Stiefvater’s writing is so tight, so flowing, that I couldn’t help but get swept into the story and let the current rush me away.

To answer the first two questions: I should never worry about Stiefvater’s skills.  Not only was she able to effectively narrate from the perspectives of Sam and Grace, but she added the voices of Cole and Isabel as well.  Unbelievably, each of the four characters spoke with unique voices.  When I finished the book, just to test myself, I flipped to random pages to see if I could pick out who was narrating (and it was a piece of cake).  Also, the story is as compelling, if not more so, than Shiver.  Adding more of Sam’s music helps define his character and his relationship with Grace.  The back story for Cole not only helps us understand his motivations but also gives us insight into Isabel’s life.  Showing Grace’s parents’ attempt at parenting is also a glimpse into Grace’s inner strength.  Their superficial concerns are motivated by image and perception: What will the neighbors think?  The neighbors include Isabel’s father who is a real threat to the pack; his opinion of Lewis Brisbane (Grace’s father) is hinted at and affects all of the main characters.  Oh, there is so much that is right about this book!

Another interesting detail is the ink color.  In Shiver, the book was printed in blue ink to help portray the importance of the cold.  Brrr, I almost felt chilled reading it (especially as the chapters included thermometer readings).  In Linger, the ink is green.  The color of spring, warmer temperatures, and hope is perfect for the theme (and the irony) of the second story.  What color will be used in the third and final installment, Forever?  And when the heck is it going to be released?!?!?!?

It’s ironic that I read Linger after The Duff. I know it’s not fair to compare the two.  However, I will say that not a word is wasted in this book.  Every detail helps move the story forward, or helps define a character, or helps us walk into Mercy Falls.  And the characters are so fully fleshed, even the minor ones, that I can not only picture them, but I see them moving through the scenes of the book.  What a remarkable gift for a reader!  And, though Linger is a love story, it explores many layers of love: familial, fraternal, romantic.  Oh, and the love of music!  This book resonates on so many levels because of Stiefvater’s mastery of the written word.

Expect to see this book on many award lists.

5P     5Q     Grade Level: 9-12+

Cover Art:  The iconic silhouettes used in book one returns in Linger. A wolf and a girl are part of the forest.  Shades of green tie in with the green typeface in the book.  The single drop of blood still dots the “i” in the title.  A brilliant use of “corporate identity” lets browsers know that this is a Wolves of Mercy Falls title.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. leslie
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 12:57:42

    disagree…..did not like this one not enuff grace and sam

  2. N Messmore
    Oct 11, 2010 @ 12:06:54

    I saw the cover and kept forgetting to update this story; thanks for the reminder! Yes, the cover is red and the designer did a great job of keeping the covers coherent. Want to see it? Maggie Stiefvater’s blog includes a picture: http://m-stiefvater.livejournal.com/177891.html.

  3. incantations446
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 19:12:11

    I liked Linger, but I feel Shiver was a little better. The voices were more defined in Shiver. There were a couple times when Cole’s and Sam’s voices are jumbled in my head. Overall it was a very good book. By the way Forever is supposed to be red.

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