Linger – Lambent and Poignant. A must read for all poetry lovers.

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Published by: Scholastic
Year of Publication: 2010
Edition I read: UK edition, Paperback
Verdict: 4 Stars out of 5

A personal note:

Although I found Shiver better than Linger, it does not mean that Linger was not interesting. Besides, first book is always the best because they are always the real ice breakers. I enjoy Maggie Stiefvater’s writing in away that it reminds me of lucid poetry. It is very unfortunate that both Shiver and Linger should receive such brutal reviews on Goodreads. Don’t people like poetry anymore? I also don’t understand why people have to take a bitter stance and direct their antipathy directly towards the author who spent days, weeks, months even years to give birth to the novel. There is a difference between bad reviews and negative ones and the latter is much more worse because unknowingly it stifles the creativity of a sensitive author. Constructive criticism is what we are here for aren’t we? To help the author take better steps? It is very sad that such is not the case. I find that some people have no notion about how book reviews are written.

“ Her eye rolled up towards me, black and bottomless, and one of her front legs twitched, a memory of running. There was something awful about terror trapped behind silence. About latent emotions that couldn’t be acted out…
…She screamed, this high scream that was neither human nor animal but something terrible in between, the sort of sound that you never forget no matter how many beautiful things you hear afterwards. Then she was silent, because her punctured lungs were empty. She was dead, and I wanted to be. I was going to find out ho to keep myself a wolf. Or I just couldn’t do this any more.” (Page 249)

As Grace found Sam in Shiver and went to great lengths to save his humanity and their togetherness, in Linger it is the opposite. Sam is cured or what he and Grace and their friends believe but Grace is losing herself bit by bit in order to submit to the wolf that has been hibernating within her. It is Sam’s turn to save Grace but the truth is, he finds himself clueless as to how he can save his lovely summer girl. Will he succeed in bringing Grace back? Or will she be lost forever? Then there is another story. A story of Cole and Isabel. Cold, hard, ruthless and reckless Cole St. Clair, a lead vocalist of a band called Narkotika has nothing but regrets in his life. He wants to quit. All the drugs that render him numb taking him to a high from where the world looks better, is no longer helpful which is why he wants to end his life. With a stroke of luck, he finds himself in a situation where he can actually do what he wants to. Forget. But is that a better choice? Will he regret that his life took the turn it took or will he regain his humanity by losing himself?
Isabel Culpepper was a mean, selfish girl until she lost her brother in front of her. Her attachment with the wolves develops further from around the time she loses her brother whom she could not save. She diverts her restless bitter attitude into trying to solve the riddle that turns humans into wolves and vice versa. When Cole appears in her life, she is as cold and detached as he is to her but neither Isabel nor Cole are aware of the spark of burning desire that is slowly kindled through many of their spitfire encounters.

This is indeed “a story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one”. Maggie Stiefvater’s lucidly lyrical prose is worth a recommendation. Also her references to Roethke, Rilke and the acmeist poet Mandelstam makes it so very clear that Stiefvater comes from the house of lyrical prose and poetry.
Sam and Grace are compelling characters but in Linger, major action falls in the hands of Cole St. Clair and Isabel Culpepper. The latter two characters take the readers preference by storm to that of Sam and Grace. In Linger, Sam and Grace somehow recede take the backseat while Isabel and Cole steer the story. Linger definitely has new protagonists who are much more compelling and more active. Stiefvater’s brilliant writing style and theme of the story deserves five stars, and the only reason that this review rounds up to four stars is the dormancy of the characters of Sam and Grace in Linger. Although Sam was not clueless about what was happening to Grace, he lacked total courage to risk all that he had to save her. Like a true hero, he failed to brandish his mettle and hit the battlefield. His melancholic outlook on things made the story a bit drab. Grace on the other hand was obsessing about Sam much more than she ever did. The fact that she does not encourage Sam to take the stand with other wolves was slightly unnerving. Then there is the slightly unnatural physical abstinence that they share. They both lie together for nights, they tease each other but other than that the physical culmination of their passionate love does not happen, which leaves the readers wondering if there might be something wrong with them physically.
It is Isabel and Cole who save the story and they do it in such a way that one cannot stoop down to a mere three stars review.
The theme of the story is brilliant which communicates the fact that sometimes, in losing one’s humanity, one can truly find oneself which means the sometimes our ability to think, feel and react are our worst enemies. Sometimes we are better off as animals.

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Yoshay Lama

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