Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lazy Book Club: Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

It's TIME! We're discussing The LBC Books for July: Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater! Here goes the usual warning: SPOILERS ABOUND! We're DISCUSSING the books which includes plot points and characters. Don't read THIS if you haven't read the books!

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One of the first things that you notice about Shiver and Linger is Maggie’s writing. It’s lush and lyrical. I think if she lived ages ago she would’ve been a bard or poet. It makes something fantastic, like a story of werewolves, feel like a youthful romance instead of a gothic horror. I think it takes an incredible amount of talent to do that. If I read something supernatural, I’m usually reading it FOR the supernatural aspect, but in Shiver (and Linger), I’m reading FOR Grace and Sam. The fact that Sam is a werewolf is secondary.

I couldn’t agree more. Her writing scenes memorable because they are so lush and lyrical, as you say. For example, on Shiver, Ani said, “I liked that they had "grown up" together and the inexplicable bond they had, even though one was in wolf form for the majority of their time together." I think Maggie’s writing style made this work. Grace’s fascination with the wolves, Sam (as a wolf) always watching, and the scene where Grace and Sam first make contact in the woods behind Grace’s house. They were made all the stronger because of the way Maggie wrote these scenes. I said before that I could almost feel Grace’s hands buried in Sam’s fur (when he first allows her to touch him). That remains one of my favorite moments of the series.

Right. The way she interwove scenes and memories together to illustrate shared experiences was wonderful.

Which leads us to one of Maggie’s true talents - Character Voices. In Shiver, Sam’s voice and Grace’s voice are distinct but fit together perfectly. You feel them falling in love, but with the history behind it for them both. And then we get to Linger and I’m just blown away. We have Grace’s POV, Sam’s POV, and then we get Isabel and Cole’s point’s of view. What I love is that they’re so very different from one another, but it never once feels unnatural. It doesn’t feel like some woman in Virginia is trying to sound like a brooding rock star. It sounds like a wounded boy thrust into a rock lifestyle. I’m amazed. And Cole... Oh, Cole.

One of our readers summed it up: “In Linger, we meet Cole, who is seriously an amazing character from start to finish. His relationships with Isabel and Sam are really well drawn and amazing. We see more of Isabel, who is a fantastic character in her own right.”

Which is true. You want to hate Cole because Sam doesn’t trust him. But then you get to understand him and you realize you can’t hate him. And Isabel is so hard and focused, but we see why and so we understand her a little, too.

I feel the same way. At first I was a little hesitant about hearing the other voices, because I wasn’t ready for it and I wanted to get back to Sam and Grace. I remember thinking, “Who is this Cole? I don’t want to know him!” (Okay, yes, I was pouting a bit.) But, I got over it pretty quickly once I started to get into the other characters. And it was easy to “get into” the characters because, as you say, Maggie is so brilliant with switching voice.

Our reader Tiffany agreed with you: “I didn't think that I would like the new character insights, but I did. Cole was a fun addition. :) I was torn between liking him and hating him, but in the end....he was leaning towards the good guy ;) so what's not to like? :) I actually enjoyed Isabel's perspective too. She added some nice sass to the book.”

I think one of the neatest things about these alternating POVs was the ability to see how a character viewed themselves and then contrast it to how others saw them. Isabel and Cole’s perceptions of Grace and Sam’s relationship struck me in particular. Like this quote:

"Sam came over behind Grace's chair and slid a hand onto her neck. It was a simple gesture that didn't say possession so much as connection. Isabel's eyes were on that hand, the same way I guess mine were." - Cole, Linger, p. 332

I feel like the alternate POVs actually added quite a bit to our insight on Grace and Sam. The book would’ve been less without them.

Oh that's a good point! It does make their relationship seems so much stronger in light of how it is seen from the outside. Except as it is seen by Grace's parents in Linger. I'm surprised that none of our readers brought up their sudden interest in actually being parents.



I don’t know what to say about Grace’s parents. That I hate them? That they’re terrible people who probably never should’ve had a kid, but that I’m glad they did since I like Grace? Sadly, I don’t think they’re that far off the mark for a lot of parents of teens today. I’m sure there are lots of kids who can identify with feeling abandoned emotionally because their parents are too busy to participate in their lives.

I was surprised at how ANGRY I was at them. Honestly, it was like being a teen all over again. I was also proud (and maybe did a few fist-pumps) when Grace finally stood up to them. It never did sink it with them, which was unfortunate, but it made me somewhat happier that Grace finally expressed how she’s been feeling all these years. In Shiver you see her try to pretend their neglect doesn’t affect her, but in Linger we see that it does (especially in comparison with their sudden “interest” in her life) and she finally finds her voice to tell them so.

I think the biggest bombshell in Linger wasn’t much of a bombshell at all. We all saw it coming, and that’s not really a bad thing, but the way it took place made it feel clinical for me.

One of our readers agreed: “But the flip of Grace becoming a wolf was a little predictable. We see it coming from the first book, and I kept hoping she'd surprise me and not do it. I also felt a lot of the plot elements were convenient, like Cole being a super genius, or just unbelievable, like Grace not telling anyone she was sick or Sam not noticing the fever earlier when he was cuddling up with her nightly.

The focus on the science of the changes strips away some of the magic we felt, like when Sam took Grace to the golden clearing, or the idea that they could communicate through thoughts, even when Grace was human.”

Now, I don’t mind Grace’s transformation. Like I said, you could feel it coming from the start. But the science of it makes it seem less special, somehow. I’m torn because of course I want Grace and Sam to live happily ever after. But making werewolf-ism a disease is kind of like scientifically explaining why Santa isn’t real halfway through Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It just feels out of place with the magic that permeated Mercy Falls in Shiver. I was left feeling sad and missing that mystical element.

In terms of Grace becoming a wolf, I felt sad, but only because of Sam being left behind. I was actually happy for Grace in a way.

But I differ with you and our reader on the point of magic vs. science. I kind of like how science/logic stand in contrast with the magical, as well as with the lyrical quality of Maggie’s writing in these books. Linger, especially, seemed just so rational at points. Whereas the whole feel of the book is decidedly not rational.

I understand that, and I didn’t dislike it as much as the reader did, but I still can’t help but feel that there are some things that I don’t want a rational explanation for.




Ah - interesting. But at the same time, you WANT the cure, right? You WANT Sam and Grace to be together - human together. So, it's a conflict.





But if becoming a werewolf is magic then there’d be a magical way out of it. Can’t I have both?





Not in these books. *grins* Or at least not yet. Maybe Maggie has magic in store for Forever?

What about you all? We'd love to hear your thoughts on Shiver, Linger, and what you think might happen in Forever. Do you think magic or science will prevail? Will Grace and Sam end up together somehow? (Please say yes.)





32 comments:

  1. I definitely liked Linger more than Shiver - maybe it was the introduction of the other voices or that there was more at stake. Whatever it was, I liked it a lot. And I hated Grace's parents! I wanted to strangle them so much and even though Grace stood up to them, she really didn't get through to them. Arghhhhhhh!

    Once thing that did kind of bother me (and I think I'm only mentioning this because your post about sex in YA, which I thought was interesting): Grace always insists that her and Sam's relationship (sleeping in the same bed together) isn't 'like that'. As in, they don't have sex. BUT THEY DID. So I don't understand? Does it make your love more pure if you insist that you don't want to have sex with each other? It just bothers me how in YA, the characters have sex once, and that's it. They never do it again. Speaking as a teenager, that is really not what happens in RL. So....

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  2. Sam, I understand what you mean about the sex part. I just kinda assumed that even though Grace was protesting it was more that she was saying it was MORE than just sex. So the emphasis was on the emotional closeness of living together instead of on the sexytimes. I figured the sex was still happening.

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  3. And I didn't think they were having sex. I was thinking that with her feeling so awful, and the parents thing, that there were no sexytimes going on. We should ask Maggie. ;)

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  4. I'm totally NOT doing a "told ya so" dance in Stacie's direction. Nope. Not me. ;)

    Thanks, Maggie!!

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  5. Well, I'm HAPPY to be wrong this time!

    And yes, thank you Maggie for clearing that up!

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  6. I am laughing really, really hard...thank you, Maggie for the clarification!!!

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  7. I finished Linger last night. I cannot even fully comment yet So much to say but speechless. First -- the varying POV's are evidence of Maggie's brilliance at writing. She gives each of them a distinctive voice and always worked. The story was fluid even as the observer changed. I also have to say that the way Rachel refers to Sam as "The Boy" cracks me up. I love that chick!

    I think from the start of the book I knew in my gut that Grace was going to become a wolf but I kept hoping... mostly because of Sam. He keeps trying to hold onto these people he loves as one would grab water in their fist. It put a lump in my throat... I was surprised (in a good way) that Sam rejected the idea of returning to a life of a wolf and instead chose to remain human. That was not an easy decision for him, I'm sure.

    Cole and Isabel. Impossible not to love them because haven't we all been broken at one point? To the point that you wear armor of protection, whether that be attitude keeping people at arm's length, or drugs/alcohol to keep your mind from working against your heart and soul.

    I do have a question for Maggie (which further proves I could not stop thinking of this story after I finished last night).

    If Sam and Grace were BOTH wolves/human, could she get pregnant? Also since gestation is 9 months for human but they'd only be wolves for maybe 6 months or so would she be able to carry the baby/cub to term? And if she did would it be a freakish child like Renesmee in Breaking Dawn or would it be a bouncing baby or snuggly wolf?

    The fact that I thought of that... to the point of analyzing and considering this possibility which is entirely outside of the realm of reality proves that I need another book to read.

    So... when does Forever come out?

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  8. Laura - http://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/maggie-stiefvater-really-its-me/ten-totally-true-forever-spoilers/422285017035

    See #2 :)

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  9. Oh how I love Sam and Grace. *sigh* I have to admit I hesitated to read Linger because I loved the ending of Shiver and I didn't want the second book in the trilogy to dispel it for me. I'm not quite as settled at the end of it, but I'm just so in love with Maggie's writing and everything about this story that I don't mind. I can't wait for Forever! (that just sounds odd)

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  10. Shiver and Linger…first of all I do love the titles. Just a simple girl, so I like keeping it simple. Don’t complicate things for me please! :O)
    I’ll admit when I first started reading, I was a bit confused. (remember simple?) Anyway, once I got the *rhythm* of the books, I found reading them became very fluid. This in turn made reading them a pleasure.
    While reading, I realized something about myself. Fact being, I must always be secretly in love with the bad boys, but will always choose the good guy in the end. You know, kind of like, in real life? Anyway, for sure I loved each and every character. Love, love, love them for all the obvious reasons.
    When a book causes you to reminisce about something in particular, it makes that book extra special. Example~ Grace is lying in Sam’s bed, looking up at all the little paper birds, I was remembering my brothers room. He had all of his model airplanes hung by strings from his ceiling. (Side note: he grew up to build and fly his own airplane)
    I didn’t take notes or tab pages, while reading the books, like I did with the last book I read. About 2/3 the way thru Linger, I started to do just that. Another realization, I was marking spots that made my eyes fill up with tears! Usually they are special little moments that touch you deep down. Example pg.249~Sam: I remembered her losing her footing outside the car…I swallowed, my throat clinging to itself, and asked instead, “Can we get a dog?” For me it’s those little moments…another example (surely there are 100 or more) but on page 321, when they are burying Victor, and Grace asks Cole if he would like to say something. Today, I kept re-reading this, and couldn’t figure out why I had marked this page. Then there it was…”We were making it harder for him. We were making him fight both grief and tears.” WOW! If I had to describe myself in one sentence, it would be just that. This author described how I live my life each day, “Fighting both grief and tears.” No wonder I marked that page!
    OK, at first I didn’t want to write a *so called* review about Linger because…here it is…I was not happy with the ending. (Always afraid of hurting someone’s feelings) Sorry! You see, I’m a hopeless romantic. I DID feel like it was a longing of Grace’s to be a wolf, but it’s not how I was wishing it would end. O right, it’s not *my* book, or story to tell. So the good thing for me, knowing that there will be yet another book to this sequel! I’ll keep the faith and hope alive! And on this note, I will also add, that if Grace does not get her RED COFFEE POT, this reader will be very disappointed!
    Forgot something…once Grace became ill, one half my brain thought she was pregnant, and the other half kept disagreeing! Sheeesh…it’s a mess in there.

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