This is a spoiler-less review. You will not be spoiled for any crucial plot points within this novel.
If you talk to me about anything related to books in general, let alone the young adult or fantasy genres, I am without fail consistently quick to recommend Maggie Steifvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series. And with good reason.
Imagine for a moment if you will, if Twilight were a remotely well written novel.
For those not aware, the series centers around the town of Mercy Falls, Minnesota and specifically Grace Brisbane and Sam Roth. The series itself opens on Grace recalling how she was attacked by wolves when she was 11, and how her friend, Isabel’s younger brother, Jack was recently massacred by wolves which as inspired Isabel’s father to create a group to hunt the wolves. The series is broken up into a trilogy with Shiver as the first book, then Linger, and finally ending with Forever. A few years ago a standalone novel was released titled Sinner which centers around Cole and Isabel specifically.
Linger serves as a transitionary novel in a similar fashion that a place holder episode might serve for a television series. It acts as glue for the series and helps bridge the information and events that transpire with Shiver to take them into the events of Forever. It remains relatively level as far as intensity and amount of vital events over the course of the novel goes. That is not to say that the novel itself falls flat, buy any means. With the exception of the finale of the novel and one or two other crucial events, it serves as a decent place holder. Literally just enough glue to keep the series going until the climax of the series in Forever.
With that said, it also serves as a very crucial piece of character development for the four main characters; Grace, Sam, Isabel and Cole. Much of their individual development is taken with care and caution as to very organically evolve as characters so that the finale of the novel itself (and arguably the beginning events of Forever, although at the time of this review I am about 1/3 of the way through) is more realistically in the course of the universe that Mercy Falls is set. Out of the four, I will say that I think Isabel is evolved the best, and becomes easily the most interesting character of our band of merry misfits, if we will. She is hands down my favorite of the group. I love her sass, her strength, but most importantly the fact that she remembers to be human. It is so easily for a character like hers to easily become a cookie cutter of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” trope. She could so easily be that whimsical character and fade into the background as the series evolves, but she doesn’t. If anything she becomes not only more prominent but more crucial to the plot, as well. But again, my favorite thing about her is that she is definitely the most realistic. She is all of these wonderful things I mentioned, but she is still realistic and human. She is a fucking teenager with emotions. She is friends with wolves, her best friend is stuck in a uniquely sticky situation, and her dad is leading a group of small minded guns-ablazing hunters who blindly want to massacre the wolves in order to protect the town. She has every right to lose her fucking shit. And god, she should. She holds herself together relatively well, all things considered, but she still gets hit hard. I will make the argument now that this series needs Isabel.
So. Do I recommend this novel? Yes and no. If you have already begun the series, then yes as it serves as a strong placeholder, but also most importantly a massive chunk of crucial character development happens that leads us up to the finale that is necessary. However, if you haven’t begun the series, then I strongly recommend you begin with Shiver, otherwise nothing will make sense to you and it will be lost. It doesn’t serve as a standalone piece in any way.