My copy of Linger by Maggie Stiefvater has been sitting on my shelf since Christmas (it was a present from friends at Scholastic), and I’ve been meaning to read it for the longest time.

You guys probably know that I often run in the opposite direction of paranormal romances, but I read Shiver last year, and thought the series showed promise. When I learned last week that Forever, the conclusion to the trilogy is coming out this month, I made quick work of reading Linger, and the two dozen or so pending book reviews will have to wait, because I didn’t expect to get so caught up in this book.


Linger
is the second installment in “The Wolves of Mercy Falls” trilogy, and picks up where Shiver left off. Grace and Sam’s relationship is stronger than ever, after surviving the harrowing events at the end of the first book, but they are faced with new challenges in their relationship.

Sam seems to have stopped shifting back into his wolf form, and tries to settle back into into a normal human life, but he is besieged with memories of his past that he has long tried to block out. Meanwhile, Grace has to keep their relationship on the sly as her parents are harboring a growing opposition to Sam’s presence in her life, and Grace and Sam must fight to stay together.

The voices of two characters are added to Linger: Isabel, whom readers met in Shiver, and Cole, who is one of the new additions to the wolf pack. A drama unfolds in the background, as some citizens of Mercy Falls are keeping watch for the wolves, as well as Grace’s missing friend, Olivia. And something mysterious is going on with the wolves, affecting their ability to shift.

I have to say that I was much more invested in Linger as I was in Shiver, not only because the characters are already familiar.

First of all, the plot is more substantial this time around, with the events building steadily throughout the story, as opposed to the first book, where I felt they were concentrated towards the end. It keeps the interest going.

Second, while there are some light-hearted moments between the characters, I thought this book carried a lot of sadness and pain, giving both the story a lot more depth.

Isabel and Cole and their collective emotional baggage are added to the fray, and they’re quite entertaining, although their problems are the type people would love to have: a rich girl looking for happiness and meaning¬† in her life, and a teen rock star tired of the limelight. I imagine Isabel and Cole’s characters went over very well with a lot of readers, and gained their own shippers (me included), too, I bet!

On a more serious level, Sam and Grace’s characters go through a lot of emotional turmoil in this book,.¬† Sam’s sensitivity is taken to a whole new level (or perhaps this is the reason for it) as he relives the trauma of his past, while Grace gets tired of being the perfect daughter to her parents and starts lashing out (Although I must say, given the situation, her parents do have a point. But ah, young love!).

Third, I thought the ending was very well written (ok fine, I cried!), with a spectacular climax and an interesting prelude to Forever — coming out this month!

When I first started reading this series, I was just thankful that none of the characters sparkled, but Stiefvater writes such beautiful prose, and it sets the tone and feel of the romance. I knew this Shiver, but I think Linger makes a much better showcase of her talent, as the elements that I found lacking in the first book were somehow addressed in this book.

Forever looks so much more interesting, as it promises to reveal the mystery behind the werewolves, although the red theme (Shiver was blue, Linger was green) looks ominous. I guess I’ll find out soon enough!

***

Linger, hardcover with dust jacket, 4/5 stars

book #68 for 2011

*paper crane photo courtesy of sxc.hu