Saturday, July 14, 2012

Books #14, #16, and #32 of 2012: "Shiver," "Linger," and "Forever"

I've been waiting to review The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater until I finished the entire thing.  I read Shiver (book #14 of 2012) back in May, followed closely by Linger (book #16), but then I had to wait until my local library ordered a copy of Forever (book #32) to finish up the trilogy.  It was well worth the wait!

I initially was not thrilled with Shiver and primarily persisted with the trilogy because 1) I hate to leave a series unfinished and 2) my friend Andrea swore that the other two books were fantastic.  I'm very glad to have stuck with it, as I really enjoyed both Linger and Forever.

When I first read Shiver (published 2009), I felt like it was somewhat of a Twilight (published 2005) knock-off.  The story centers around Grace, who is, for all appearances, a normal human teenage girl... aside from her obsession with the wolves that live in the woods behind her house.  She feels a particular attachment to a yellow-eyed wolf.  The wolves of Mercy Falls are not just average wolves though; they are humans trapped in wolf bodies.  The yellow-eyed wolf is Sam Roth, and he and Grace fall in love during one of his shifts back into his human body.

Side note: I'm not very up on my werewolf lore.  The creatures in Stiefvater's books are usually just referred to as "wolves," but occassionally she calls them "werewolves."  Her wolves possess no special powers, aside from their bites being able to cause other humans to shift into wolves.  When they're in wolf form, their minds are completely "wolfish;" they act completely as animals and are unable to remember their human selves.  I'm not sure if this qualifies them as "werewolves" or not.

Anyway, Grace's blind and overwhelming love of Sam (who is a tortured soul that would much rather be human than wolf and frequently ponders the morality involved in making wolves) initially seemed to be a very Bella-and-Edward storyline.  The story started to get more interesting with the introduction of Isabel Culpeper, a hard-edged, cynical girl who discovers the secret of the wolves after her brother Jack is bitten.  In Shiver, the narration switches back and forth between the voices of Sam and Grace, but I didn't feel like either of their voices was particularly distinctive.  In Linger, Sam and Grace continue as narrators, but the voices of Isabel and new wolf Cole are also added to the mix.  In my opinion, Isabel and Cole are both far more interesting characters than Sam and Grace, although Sam and Grace both get a lot more interesting after the first book as well.  We learn that Grace was bitten by wolves as a child, and the consequences of that come to fruition in Linger.  In Forever, Sam grapples with the origins of his wolfishness, wondering at his foster father's motivations in changing him in the first place.  Throughout the trilogy, the characters try to discover what causes the wolves to shift from human to animal and if there might be a cure for their condition.

I really enjoyed this trilogy and chafed with impatience to get my hands on the third book.  I especially liked Cole's cynical yet scientific voice.  While I did still have unanswered questions at the end of the trilogy, I think that in this case, that enhanced my enjoyment of the books.  These books are a must-read for anyone who liked the Twilight series, or anyone who enjoys the recent trend in the supernatural in YA lit.  Two thumbs up for the trilogy as a whole!  I'm planning to read more of Maggie Stiefvater in the future, including her Books of Faerie trilogy (Lament, Ballad, and Requiem--although the third one will be published in 2013, so I'll probably wait until then to read them, as it makes me crazy when I start a trilogy that I can't finish) and The Scorpio Races (which I've heard touted as the new must-read book for anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games).  Stay tuned for future reviews!

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