Linger brings a sadness and intensity to Maggie Stiefvater‘s Wolves of Mercy Falls series. Like in all good YA novels, the beauty in this book came out of the complicated relationships, and not some crazy, intricate plot.
“This is a love story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one.”
Grace and Sam finally have the rest of their lives to spend together. No more worries about the final goodbye, the last summer, the first winter of the rest of their lives. Or so they think. Sam may be cured of his little werewolf problem, but Grace is sick. Fever, stomach pains, bloody noses, and headaches plague her. But she refuses to complain, refuses to acknowledge what the symptoms are telling her. The wolves are calling to her, and the animal that’s laid dormant inside her for so long is clawing its way to the surface.
And then there’s Cole. A new member of the pack and former lead singer of the rock band NARKOTIKA. While Sam and Grace are trying to escape from the woods, Cole dives head first into the trees. He wants to forget. Forget the wreckage he left behind on his path to fame and fortune. He’s empty inside, trying to hide from his memories. But Isabel brings them all back, in her cold, cruel, straightforward way. She refuses to let him wallow in self-loathing, to take the easy way out. She tells him “I’ve thought about drinking–hey, it works for my mom–or drugs–hey, it works for my mom–and I’ve thought about asking one of my dad’s eight million guns and putting it to head and blowing my brains out. Sad part.? Not even because I miss Jack, I mean, I do, that that’s not why I want to do it. It’s because I feel so damn guilty about how I killed him. I killed him. and some days I just can’t live with that. But I do. Because that’s life, Cole. Life’s pain. You just have to get over as much of it as you can.”
The writing itself is fantastic. Dark, poetic, or sweet, all depending on the character. They all have a distinct voice, separate sets of vocabulary, unique thought patterns.
- I was a paper boat drifting in a massive night ocean. – sam
- Talking on a telephone was like talking with your eyes closed, It made you braver and more honest, because it was like talking to yourself. – cole
- She was dead, and I wanted to be. I was going to find out how to keep myself a wolf. Or I just couldn’t do this anymore. – cole
Stiefvater also plays close attention to descriptive details. The scenes come to life in vivid colors, sounds, and touches.
- 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.
- 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 afterward. Then she was silent, because her punctured lungs were empty.
- Normally at this point I would’ve leaned in for a kiss or to tickle her or to run my hand down her thigh or to rest my head on her stomach, but today, I was afraid of breaking her.
Linger is beautiful but sad addition to the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. Let’s hope that the next book, Forever, will leave us with a happily-ever-after ending.