Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater

Contest Book #10

Writing the middle novel in a trilogy must be tough. Authors need to sustain their momentum and provide at least a little plot resolution, but they also have to leave enough loose ends to justify writing a third book. This delicate balancing act has created a lot of disappointing second series installments, including, alas, Maggie Stiefvater's Linger, the sequel to her hugely successful 2009 novel Shiver.

We're not knocking Stiefvater's writing style—on the contrary, the delicate, somber atmosphere that made Shiver so memorable is equally evident here. We are, however, knocking the way that Linger literally undoes most of the progress of the first book. Shiver was the story of a human girl named Grace who falls in love with Sam, a boy who transforms into a werewolf when the temperature drops. Linger is Shiver's mirror image [SPOILER]: by the end of the book, Sam has become fully human and Grace is seasonal lycanthropy's latest victim.

Thankfully, Linger is totally readable, even if the A-plot feels like it's moving in reverse. Grace and Sam remain a compelling pair, and Stiefvater promotes two of book one's minor characters from also-ran to co-starring status. That doesn't fully make up for resetting most of the events of Shiver back to zero, but it's enough to keep us hooked until book three—Forever, due out next summer.

[Review based on a publisher-provided copy.]

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