By Maggie Stiefvater
Available now from Scholastic
Read my reviews of SHIVER, LAMENT, and BALLAD
Read Maggie Stiefvater's guest blog
This review took me longer to write than I thought it would. I kept producing a disjointed mess. I finally produced something I am happy with, but be warned. THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS OF SHIVER.
SHIVER and LINGER are obviously lovely books. They have a distinctive, monochromatic papercut look. With SHIVER, I didn't think of it as much more than nice packaging. Reading LINGER with SHIVER in mind, I realized how thematically tight the Wolves of Mercy Falls books are.
SHIVER is the winter book. Yes, it takes place toward the end of autumn, but it's all about winter coming. Thus, the blue. LINGER is the spring book, even though it takes place at the end of winter. As Cole says in his first appearance, "[S]pring had come too soon."
Spring frequently represents rebirth, or new life. Sam has been cured. Cole has been infected. Isabel must move forward without her brother, who she helped die. Grace must move forward with Sam, who gave up something she wished for desperately in order to be with her. Grace's parents must face the fact that their neglect has turned her into an autonomous being.
None of them are prepared to deal. Sam wants to remain a kid, not responsible for protecting the pack. Cole wants to remain a wolf, ignoring the pressures of human thought. Isabel doesn't want to acknowledge what she wants. Grace wants to pretend she has everything she wants. Grace's parents want to continue to pretend she's a well-behaved little girl.
Chick Lit Teens quoted Maggie as saying Grace's parents felt like they could safely ignore her since "she's yet to set anything on fire." But now she has set something on fire. She's sleeping with a boy, and that gets their goat. They know parents shouldn't let their child sleep with a boy. Yet it's still a transparently false attempt at parenting. They still barely police her. They also ignore the fact that Grace is clearly sick. For all the good parts of spring, there's still spring fever.
And oh, are there good parts of spring. Sam and Grace's relationship is incredibly sweet. They're just so into each other. I do maintain what I said in my review of SHIVER - they have lives outside of each other. Sam once more works at the bookshop. He gets into arguments with Cole. Grace hangs out and bakes with Rachel. She explores the woods with Isabel. The bits narrated when they're apart do help to show off just how adorkable they act together. Sam makes Grace a little less guarded and she makes him a little less earnest (to use Cole's word).
As for Cole and Isabel, they make wonderful foils to Sam and Grace. They are sarcastic and lustful and definitely not optimists. I'd already gotten to like Isabel in SHIVER, but it took me awhile to warm up to Cole. I think I did because in his own way, he's as earnest as Sam. He's so definitive about what he likes and doesn't like in addition to being a sharp observer of people. But Cole tries to blunt himself because he isn't one to take the truth lying down.
I am so curious as to what FOREVER will mean for these characters. And you can trust Maggie Stiefvater to make a book about kissing and wolves meaningful.