Thursday, June 19, 2014

Early Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

by Maggie Stiefvater
Read: May 31 - June 1, 2014
Published: July 1, 2014 by Scholastic Press
Source: BEA read #1
Category: L.A., Rockstars, Paranormal, Wolves, Contemporary feel, YA/NA

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy. 

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved? (From Goodreads)

It's been 6 months since the end of Forever when Isabel was banished to L.A. and Cole disappeared from her life into the woods of Minnesota. Now he's back in L.A. to record music, participate in a reality show and/or to get Isabel back. Isabel is still a mess after the loss of her brother, and with her parents impending breakup. Cole never does anything the simple way, and she's not sure she can trust this volatile boy who broke her heart. But Cole is good at getting what he wants. Is there a future for these two? 

I could sense the bright glare of L.A. on the pages of this book, in all its Technicolor glory. Although I've never been to the city, Sinner has a palpably different texture to it than rest of  the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and fit the bold, vibrant - and sometimes destructive - characters of Cole and Isabel as if it were another character in their messy, loud story. Even the way Cole's wolf nature works into the plot, fit the setting and made the story feel more contemporary than paranormal. 

I fell in love with Cole again in Sinner. He's not perfect, and he often does things the hard way, but he also feels so much and is incredibly alive. In this book, Cole especially, has to face his past, and Isabel has to figure out if she can trust him despite it. I really like that this story doesn't gloss over what he's done and who he is - or the sins he could fall into again. But he made me want to root for him, despite his questionable choices at times. There is something incredibly magnetic about Cole. His friendships with Leon and Jeremy, and even his phone calls with Sam and Grace, were highlights of this story for me. 

Isabel is prickly and all hard edges in this story. I think her characterization was also done well. I could understand exactly why she was so abrasive, as much as it made me not want to like her in moments. But near the end of the book, I needed to see a little more from her than we got. There were even a few moments where I began to disconnect from her, as the drama and angst kicked up. After that I was desperate for a more communication between Isabel and Cole before the book ended, but that didn't happen to the degree I wanted. 

Although I was happy with the end of Sinner, it wasn't as emotionally satisfying as I'd hoped. It was too abrupt for me. I wanted to see more of Isabel and Cole working towards the conclusion, instead of the big moment that happened. But the ending does fit the mood of the story, and it is one of the most clear and settled of all of Stiefvater's finales. Readers who struggled with ambiguity at the end of Forever should not worry about this one. (I loved Forever, BTW.)

I adore Maggie Stiefvater's writing. The way she crafts words and creates characters and gets inside of them. Her wackiness is in all it's glory out in LA. And of course her love of cars, is present as always. But this wasn't my favorite of hers. It was too bright and glaring in this book for me to live with Cole and Isabel long-term. I wanted to get back to Sam and Grace in Minnesota. Somewhere greener and wetter. I'm glad I visited, but I'm happy to leave Cole and Isabel to their California life. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone/series conclusion


  1. I never really loved the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, but I'm still excited to read this one. I lived in LA and I'm excited to see what she does with it. :)

  2. I love that last line of yours--it describes both our feelings towards this novel perfectly. I haven't been able to sit down and right a review for this yet (I still haven't written a review for Dreams of Gods & Monsters, so I'm seriously behind on review-writing!) but we've discussed this one at length so much that there hardly seems to be anything left to say. It was good, but it wasn't brilliant. I'm hoping Blue Lily Lily Blue is the fantastic Stiefvater read we're hoping for this year since Sinner left a bit to be desired. I'd visit Sam & Grace in Mercy Falls over these two in Sunny CA any day, I'm afraid, but it was definitely well-worth the visit. Gorgeous review, as always, Lauren! :)

  3. I agree that there's just something about Stiefvater's writing that sticks to you like glue. Her words are just mesmerizing. I'm sorry Cole and Isabel's story lacked something, though... from what I know, this is just like a spin-off, isn't it? It's not really related to the main storyline at all?

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

  4. Well, this is sort of a disappointment. I was looking forward to this but I don't like a romance where the whole story is drama and pushing and then at the very end the couple finally gets together. I like some time with the happy couple while. I guess I'll lower my expectations a little. Wonderful review, Lauren! :)

  5. There is no doubt that Maggie's writing is exceptional! Still, very often I struggle with her books and to be honest, I never finished the Shiver series. I might give this one a try since the setting sounds great and also different from the other wolf settings. I think also Cole will be also a character I can fall for!

  6. Ahhh! Thank you for the early review, Lauren! Now, I know what to expect. (I'll try not to draw comparisons between The Wolves of Mercy Falls and Sinner. The two are related but different beasts.) It's lovely we get a glimpse into the lives of Sam and Grace, but this is Cole and Isabel we're talking about. They're destructive and angsty. And even if their romance is rocky, I'm intrigued to see how they work it out (or see them try). I think I can love this one, even if it's missing a little magic.

    Thanks again, Lauren. You've prepared me well for this!

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  7. I loved this book but I think I could have done without the epilogue. If it ended where it ended without that I would have been 100% pleased. But really Cole and Isabel...♥♥♥!

    Great review!

  8. Thanks for the early review, Lauren…and no you didn't kick my early resolve not to read early reviews :-P I love Cole and Isabel and really wanted a standalone story of theirs, and I'm so glad it happened! I loved TWoMF and I'm excited to hear we get a little bit of Sam and Grace in this book too. Can't wait for July!!!!

  9. I've never been able to get into this series. *hangs head in shame* I LOVE Maggie's books, particularly the Scorpio Races which is my all time favorite, but for some reason I never got past book one in this series. I tried it way back before I started the blog though, so I kind of think I should give it another try. This spinoff doesn't sound like it blew you away though, so maybe I'll just stick with Sam and Grace:) Gorgeous review as always!

  10. I never read past the first book in the series because it was just too much for me, but I've been intrigued with this one. Reading your review though, it doesn't sound like it's going to be worth reading because it doesn't seem like it's spectacular. The writing sounds beautiful though.
    Lovely review, Lauren!

  11. Aw. I'm sorry you had a few issues with it :\ But so glad you still liked it :D Amazing review sweetie. <3 I have yet to read the Shiver books.. but I own them, and I CANNOT WAIT. And I have pre-ordered Sinner, hih. <3 I will read them soonish. So excited. And omg. Thank you for saying that this happens 6 months after Forever :) That makes me SO HAPPY. (Not too long time spent apart.. hmm.)

  12. This is sad because it hasn't been that long since I read the series, but I barely remember Cole and I don't even remember Isabel. So I guess I don't need to read this? :)

    Sorry this one was a bit disappointing, but at least it was a clear and settled ending! ~Pam

  13. "I could sense the bright glare of L.A. on the pages of this book, in all its Technicolor glory." Maggie just has this amazing quality to her writing that the world just sucks you in no matter what world you're following the characters in. I actually disliked Cole a lot at first since he was such a distraction with his POV from Sam and Grace whom I wanted to read about in Linger. Buuuuut!!!! I've come to love him and Isabel so much and by the end of it they were even more important to me than Sam and Grace. I'm sorry the communication wasn't as big as you would have wanted :/ Though I'm glad that the ending gives us conclusion since Maggie is nutorious for open-endings. At the end of the day, I'm glad you enjoyed this one and I hope I will too :)

  14. I love Maggie Stiefvater's writing, too. She's just got such a way with words that they're both literary and extremely readable (yes, those can be mutually exclusive). Excited about the setting, too. Some place a bit different.

  15. The Plan is to read Linger, Forever, and Sinner this week - fingers crossed lol. Sorry the ending wasn't as emotionally satisfying as you hoped - that's one of my biggest pet peeves, when characters finally get together at the end but we get very little of the payoff. At least it's no ambiguous though!

  16. Honestly, even if I hadn't been happy with the ending in Forever, I'd still read this because it's MAGGIE. I just love her style and I can't imagine that this won't at least be good. Maybe not perfect, but definitely good. But this is also going to make me more impatient for the next Raven Cycle book. Grrr. :)

  17. I haven't read anything by Steifvater before but I picked Sinner up at BEA and plan on giving it a try. At least it's a stand alone. I have a friend that read the series on standby if I have questions. lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth


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