Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.
Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of being human.
For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces - wolf and human - with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?
I would like to first mention something that is totally superficial: I loved loved loved the green print used in this book. It's one of those little details that seems like it shouldn't be a big deal but when I first opened Linger and saw the green ink, I was delighted! What a nice touch.
I'm kind of relieved that I've finally read Linger. It had a LOT to live up to, didn't it? I wondered what would happen in this book; would it be as awesome as Shiver or would it disappoint, a la Eclipse? What would happen to Sam and would he stay a boy or go back to the wolf? Would he and Grace stay together? On and on and so forth. Well, don't worry because I was not disappointed.
I think the biggest focus in this book was about Sam and his learning to cope with being a REAL LIVE BOY. He keeps testing himself to see if it's still true that he's no longer a wolf - jumping into snowbanks or standing outside in the frigid Minnesota temps in just a t-shirt just to see if anything will jump-start a change. Sam now has a future where he can do almost anything and he can't believe it. Maybe it's more correct to say that he won't let himself believe it. He also is having difficulties figuring out his place in the Pack; he's become Beck's heir-apparent and he's not ready. He's also no longer a wolf but he's now their caretaker, the one the werewolves come to when they need some help. Sam has reluctantly inherited Cole, a new wolf that Beck made at the end of Shiver. Cole is a handful and Sam has no idea how to deal with him.
On the Grace front, Sam has more worries. There's something wrong with Grace, something really wrong health-wise. Her parents have now decided to be parental and are putting their foot (feet?) down when it comes to Sam. Parents of teenage daughters tend to get a little touchy when they find their daughter's boyfriend in bed with her. At night. Under their noses. Being apart from each other takes a toll on Sam and Grace and drives a wedge between Grace and her parents.
Maggie Stiefvater manages to cram lots of story into 360 pages. She also manages to make the relationship between Sam and Grace sweet and loving without being icky. I love Isabel as well and without her, Linger wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. Sarcastic and snarky to the core yet totally vulnerable, Isabel brings along a breath of fresh air and a captivating subplot relationship with Cole. She's become the voice of reason and reality too.
I'm not going to spoil the ending other than to say that I wasn't all that surprised by it (but not unaffected) and thought that it definitely complicates things. While that last part isn't all that astute it's a whopper of an understatement for what's to happen in book three. I was proud of Cole for stepping up the way he did. I do like to see a boy use his brain :) Sam and Grace seem to have an undeniable fate and I will be very surprised if they get their HEA. I don't believe that Stiefvater is the kind of meanie to split them up Romeo and Juliet style, but I just can't see them growing old together as humans.
I have to say, I'm pretty much in love with Sam. He writes songs that are full of love and hope and sadness but he's not emo. He works in a bookstore. He's insightful but not snotty or pretentious. He's kind but not a saint. Plus, he's cute. *sigh*
I spent the better part of an hour this evening reading Maggie Stiefvater's blog, Words on Words by Maggie Stiefvater, and LMAO. I can't wait to see what this chick comes up with next. The third and final installment in the Shiver trilogy, Forever, won't be out until July 2011.