Friday, October 14, 2011

Teen/YA Reviews: Linger and Forever

 Let’s be clear about this from the outset: I am not a big fan of the trendy paranormal romance genre.  I have nothing against it; it’s just not really my thing.  So, it took me a long time to finally break down and read Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater because I heard it was about werewolves, and I had no interest in it at all.  All the fabulous reviews, though, finally wore me down, and, like everyone else, I loved it.  I have just finished tearing through the last two books of the trilogy, Linger and Forever, and I thoroughly enjoyed those as well. 

This is a series that transcends its genre, with well-written prose, an engaging and creative plot, and in-depth likeable characters that captured my heart.  In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years and haven’t read Shiver yet (not that I’m judging – I had to be convinced, too!), the trilogy is basically a love story, with elements of suspense and adventure. 

At the start of the trilogy, Grace is an older teen living in northern Minnesota who has been obsessed with wolves since she was a child.  She watches the pack that live in the Boundary Woods behind her house with fascination and longing, and she is particularly captivated by one wolf with yellow eyes who once saved her life.  During the warmer months (which isn’t many in northern Minnesota), that wolf with the yellow eyes is actually a quiet teenage boy named Sam who works in her favorite bookstore.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot in case you haven’t read Shiver yet because it is so much fun to discover for yourself.  Linger and Forever follow the story of Grace and Sam through many ups and downs to a final tense but satisfying conclusion.  The amazing thing about this trilogy is that somehow the author makes it all so believable and so real.  I had no trouble suspending my skepticism as teens and young adults changed from wolves to humans and back again.  There is nothing stale or trite about these books, and I don’t even like calling it a werewolf story because it is so much more.  In fact, I keep wanting to say, “These books aren’t about werewolves; they’re about people who turn into wolves.”

The reader gains insight into the real lives of these characters – their pains, their joys, their hopes and their dreams – as we are pulled into the story.  Sam’s love of music and poetry help us to understand his deepest feelings.  Stiefvater is a wonderful writer; she made me care about Sam and Grace and their friends.  There is plenty of suspense and tension in all three books, as the people and wolves battle not only their uncontrollable transformations but also a town of angry parents who want to hunt the entire pack after a teen is killed by wolves.  Just take my word for it – read it and you won’t be sorry!

Linger, 362 pages and Forever, 386 pages; Scholastic 

P.S. Just a brief word about the books themselves.  I was disappointed in the production quality of my paperback copy of Linger.  The text is printed in green ink, which would have been OK except that some pages were dark and some were so light they were hard to read.   The pages of the paperback were also bound roughly so it was hard to open all the way.  In contrast, the hardcover copies I read of both Shiver and Forever were very high quality and readable, even though the ink in Forever is a dark reddish-brown.



parenting ad absurdum said...

Interesting - I'm not a fan of the genre either, but now I'm tempted!

Just finishing The Phantom Tollbooth with my six year old. My favorite as a kid, so glad he loved it too :).

Sue Jackson said...

I only read The Phantom Tollbooth for the first time last year, but I loved it, Peryl!! So clever and fun! And isn't it great sharing old favorites with your kids? We were just talking about A Wrinkle in Time at breakfast (my husband used the phrase, "a happy medium" which is all it took for me to launch on my favorite book!)


Heidi’sbooks said...

Sue, I've been hesitant to read these for the same reason! I think you've convinced me to put them on hold at the library. Thanks for your review.

Kathy Maxwell said...

Sue, I will read this series based on your recommendation! I don't do the whole genre interest and no desire to repeat the Twilight disaster! But, you say they're good, and I trust your judgment!

Sue Jackson said...

Heidi & Kathy -

Nice to hear I'm not the only one who's not into the paranormal romance fad. I haven't even read Twilight (and don't plan to)! Despite all the raves about it, I also heard some people (including some reviewers I trust) say it wasn't all that well-written.

I hope you do enjoy the Shiver trilogy - now I feel under pressure! ha ha