When Linger opens, the prologue tells us immediately which direction the novel is going to go in. It’s a couple of months after the end of Shiver and the experiment that Grace and Isabel undertook to attempt to save Sam and Jack. It failed on Jack, but worked on Sam and he no longer changes form back into a wolf when winter arrives.
However, it’s Grace that isn’t feeling comfortable. It’s Grace that’s feeling restless, feeling the call of the woods and the wolves. Feeling like she doesn’t belong.
The narrative changes slightly in Linger – as well as the points of view of Sam and Grace, we also get Isabel and newly created wolf Cole. A former teen rockstar, Cole has major attitude, a chip on his shoulder and is looking for a permanent escape. The shifting back and forth doesn’t suit him, he wants to become a wolf properly. Running from things we can’t really grasp, he and another member of his band Victor were turned by Beck, before he stopped switching back and forth and stayed wolf.
Now that Beck no longer changes back and forth, it is up to Sam now, to move into the house, to look after the new wolves, to keep the order and maintain the routine. He had been staying with Grace, with her oblivious parents unaware but in Linger Grace’s parents discover that Grace has been having Sam for sleepovers and they’re not happy. From their loose, distant non-parenting in Shiver, they do a total 180 and begin parenting strictly, mocking the love that Grace says she has for Sam, dismissing it as a teenage crush they will laugh at in years to come and then finally, forbidding her from seeing him.
Grace can’t cope with not being able to see Sam – she hasn’t been feeling well of late, with a burning fever and some other disturbing symptoms – a burning in her stomach and a coppery taste in her mouth leads to vomiting up copious amounts of blood. Sam, Cole and Isabel know it’s killing her – slowly but surely, if they do nothing, Grace will die. But Cole thinks he just might have the solution…..
When I read Shiver way back in October of last year, I enjoyed it immensely – I actually avoided reading it for a little while because I’d thought hmm, errr, werewolves, kind of over them! But finally I was convinced and gave it a go and fell in love with the sweet story that is Sam and Grace. Therefore, I had high hopes for Linger. Middle books can often be hit and miss, and I badly wanted Linger to live up to my expectations.
It really did in some aspects, and it didn’t in some others. Firstly, I adored the development in the relationship between Sam and Grace. Sam was still adjusting to permanent human-ness and he had his quiet moments but the love he and Grace have is really sweet and endearing. They spend so much time together, just for the sheer desire of being close to each other. I enjoyed them both together and separately and I thought Sam’s worry and fear for Grace was well done.
The part to do with their relationship that I didn’t enjoy was Grace’s parents awakened latent parenting expertise. They went from being absent more often than not in the first book to being around constantly and being openly disapproving of Sam which is in direct contrast to how they are with him in Shiver. When they discover Sam in Grace’s room, they are okay, rather justified in being shocked and outraged, but they also refuse to really listen to Grace, their straight-as-a-die, studious, has-basically-raised-herself daughter and just start issuing orders and dictating to her. Only months off being 18 and able to leave forever, they don’t seem to realise that alienating Grace now and separating her from what is most important to her will only serve to blow up in their faces. They dismiss Grace’s feelings as silly, inconsequential, and even worse, tell her that she doesn’t even know what she’s feeling. That was so incredibly patronising and ridiculous the way they spoke to her, that it actually just made me mad during scenes they appeared in.
I felt the novel was strengthened by the additional narratives of Cole and Isabel – two very flawed characters to balance out the almost perfection of Sam and Grace. Isabel is still suffering greatly the loss of her brother, and the guilt is also building in her. Her home life is falling apart and although she and Grace aren’t exactly best friends, Grace and Sam are the only people that Isabel has been able to really talk to. The arrival of Cole, another damaged soul sends some sparks flying but their road is definitely not without its many obstacles.
I did expect the novel to deal a little more with the ‘disappearance’ of Grace’s friend Olivia, given that an early scene in the book deals with it, but this plotline is mostly dropped after that so I can only assume that it will pick up again in Forever when Sam fights to reclaim what he has lost.
Linger was a decent addition to Shiver without ever really having the sense of urgency that Shiver had and that I suspect Forever will have. It showed some nice relationship development (and in some cases, some relationship disintegration). It’s still a beautiful read – Stiefvater really does have a way with words that’s beautiful and mystical and makes you feel like you’re standing in the middle of a snowy winter watching these wolves. And coming from someone reading in summery Australia, that’s quite something.