Linger is the much-anticipated sequel to Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver. Due out in July, Linger continues Stiefvater's mesmerizing tale of the wolves of Mercy Falls, MN. Linger is the love story of "a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one" (Page 1). Linger picks up a few months after the end of Shiver, as spring approaches. For the first winter in many years, Sam has NOT turned into a wolf. He is safely human, and spending as much time as he can with his girlfriend Grace. Grace, however, is exhibiting some disturbing symptoms of her own. Meanwhile, a new member of the wolfpack, Cole, is causing worry for Sam and temptation for Sam and Grace's friend Isabel. Linger is told through the alternating first-person viewpoints of these four teens.
I sometimes have trouble with keeping the narrators straight in multiple viewpoint stories, so I was a bit worried about this one initially. But I must say that Maggie Stiefvater pulls it off, even shifting viewpoints mid-chapter in some cases. I think that the multiple narrators work well for Linger because the four characters are so complex and so different from one another. The multiple viewpoints work particularly well in letting the reader see each character's different attributes (e.g. we hear what Sam thinks, but we also see him as Cole, Isabel, and Grace see him, which gives a full picture).
I must admit to a particular fondness for Isabel. She's rich and spoiled and not particularly nice to other people, but I like her wry humor. For example:
""Touche," Isabel said, taking my drink as if it has always been hers. She slouched elegantly on her stool. I hunched like a vulture on mine." (Chapter 1, Sam)
"But finally I had to make my way home. Delightfully, both of my parents' cars were in the driveway. I was beside myself with joy. I sat in my SUV in the driveway, opened the Shakespeare I was supposed to be reading, and turned up my music loud enough that I could see the bass vibrating in the rearview mirror." (Chapter 9, Isabel)
In addition to flawless characterization, Stiefvater gives Linger a strong sense of place. The reader can practically smell the woods behind Grace's house, and practically see Sam and Grace's home, and the bookstore where Sam works. She writes the kind of prose that makes you want to stop and reread passages, lyrical and descriptive, without being overly flowery. Like this:
"Outside, the last bit of sun glazed the corners of the parked cars with blinding amber and filled the puddles in the street with liquid gold. Inside, the store was already out of the reach of the dying day, dim and empty and half-asleep. (Chapter 13, Sam)
Stiefvater is also very good at conveying the feeling of being in love. Not lust or longing so much in Linger (though there's some of that, too), but the feeling that comes after the love is solidly in place, yet still ever-important. For example:
"But instead of answering, Sam stood and went to the kitchen. I swiveled to watch him put on the teakettle. He brought down two mugs from the cabinet over the stove; for some reason, the familiarity of this easy movement filled me with affection. I fought the urge to go stand behind him and wrap my arms around his chest." (Chapter 4, Grace)
"And then Sam there, hauling an industrial vacuum cleaner into the room. He'd only been gone two seconds, but the room got brighter when they were together, as if they were two elements that became brilliant in proximity. At Sam's clumsy efforts to carry the vacuum, Grace smiled a smile that I thought only he ever got, and he shot her a withering look full of the sort of subtext you could only get from a lot of conversations whispered after dark." (Chapter 38, Cole)
So, we have beautiful writing, an intriguing premise, and multi-dimensional characters. I did find the pace of Linger to be a bit slow at times. It's perhaps hard to keep up momentum when the story continually shifts from character to character. And of course, the title of the book suggests that this is more a book that one should savor than a book to be gobbled up in one sitting. It's a book to linger over. It takes time to convey four complex personalities, and their interactions, in addition to the plot.
All I know is that, lingering aside, I will be eagerly awaiting Forever, the conclusion to the Mercy Falls trilogy, when it's available next summer. Highly recommended - a must-read title for fans of Shiver, and for anyone who enjoys paranormal romance (but do read Shiver first).
Publication Date: July 20, 2010
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher. Quotes are from the ARC, and may differ from the final book.
Other Blog Reviews: The Tales Compendium, Eve's Fan Garden
© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).