A Shiver Novel
by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: Shiver (Book 4)
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 1, 2014)
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?
I picked up this book because I adore Maggie Stiefvater, it is about a guy who writes music, which is something I like to do, and it takes place in Southern California, not too far from where I am from.
(Ironically, the last book I read by Stiefvater takes place in the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia, where I currently live. Considering Stiefvater and I make tracks the same great places, I think we should be friends.)
But although I love Maggie Stiefvater and California, I literally started laughing when I discovered that this book was supposed to be a companion to the Shiver series. Wolves in L.A.? Really? That was like the Vampire Lincoln movie that made the whole movie theater bust-up laughing. A ridiculous combination that just seemed so, SO stupid.
Still, I couldn’t resist.
Thankfully, this book turned out to be so very little about wolves in L.A. . If you haven’t read the Shiver series, it might be kinda weird and you might not get the whole wolf thing, let alone how or why it works. That is okay. I don’t really get the whole wolf thing either because it is so illogical and too realistic to fit in the paranormal genre.
The only thing that is important, is recognizing that becoming a wolf is, as in the Shiver series, Cole The Rockstar’s escape. It continues to be his drug of choice he is trying to resist.
Hence, you find a little bit of wolf in roaring, applauding L.A., following Cole through his reality shows, living the life of a rockstar and creating amazing moments for the rest of his fans to enjoy life within.
If there was one word to describe this book, it would be raw. Sinner was so very raw.
I am not always a huge fan of contemporary, which Sinner is to a large degree, because they can be too real and too raw. Reading is my escape and I like nice fake escapes, though I might be able to tolerate more crying than Andye (look here).
You see, I cried while reading this book. Between broken family relationships, the storms of divorce, horrible parents, fake people, addiction, lust, guilt, hurt, and the pull of habitual sin thrown in together, this book is a crack-pot of raw.
But this raw contemporary mess is wrapped up in one of the most gravitating love stories high on my lists of hundreds. The feelings these two broken people have for each other are much more memorable than their stash of sins. Their pain is raw, but their love is even more raw.
And this, my friends, is what made me cry happiness.
This story was intense on-top of intense. I couldn’t put it down. Unfortunately, right at the very end of the story for a brief moment I did set it down. I couldn’t find my copy of Sinner for four whole terrible days. I searched up and down my house for it, under blankets and in laundry baskets.
Eventually, one day, like a gold miner’s dream, I found it sitting on my living room floor by my sofa. What the heck?
Still, no clue how/why/what in the world that happened, but I am so relieved I could finish this story so I could finally sleep again.
I think because this isn’t just typical high school teen drama I found this so much more intense. The issues were not little flings, but serious screw-up-your-life now types of things.
Yet what was most important in Sinner was redemption. Unlike Shiver, this love story was so different that the one between Sam and Grace, who always seemed in love, or the love stories of any other of Stiefvater’s books. If anything, it reminded me more of Lola and the Boy Next Door.
Honestly, because Cole and Isabel have that combined crack-pot of issues, I really think they should go to counseling before they date.
But, their relationship is what made the book.
I have a current theory that you can’t truly love someone until you hate them (or are at least annoyed by them). Maybe that is just because of my personal spiritual beliefs, because Jesus seemed to say that. But I think their story proves my theory.
Their love is so deep, so strong, so excruciating through the process but so satisfying in the end because they love each other despite.
Actually, “satisfied” isn’t a good enough word. Cole and Isabel together are freedom, life, and hope mingled together. Their love for one another embodies redemption.
What was weird to me about Sinner was that it was so very much not like my life. In books that I usually adore, usually I want to become the main character (like Lia, in Kiss of Deception). But, in Sinner, not only am I nothing like either of the main characters, but I didn’t even vaguely want to be like Isabel (or Cole).
And I still loved it and I still loved them!
I don’t mean to be mean, but Isabel is a b****. I don’t cuss, but really, there is no other word for her: The stunning, indifferent, mean girl.
But, her character was incredible. She would put words to experiences I can’t put words to- like how angry and jealous she was of other beautiful girls whom Cole had been with, but how she logically understood that it had nothing to do with her. Or her experimenting with the power her body has over guys, but then questioning the morality of it.
Personally, I usually avoid these types of icy girls because they seriously scare me. But she made me get over my fear of them. Isabel tries to not be mean. I saw her soften with her little-girl-like cousin. I saw her try to care. Then I begin to forgive her for her meanness and understand her beyond her facade as just a real person. And I liked her.
(Shhhh….don’t tell anyone, but she kinda reminds me of the real life Andye.)
And Cole. He is so arrogant, so impulsive and compulsive, so addictive, so sucked-in, such a roller-coaster of every emotion and on the verge of a cliff.
But the whole time Cole was trying, learning how to not be a bum. How he figured out that performing isn't as important as exploring depth and life. And his desperate desire for Isabel. Oh. My. Swoon.
It should be noted that Stiefvater PERFECTLY describes falling in love. I mean, perfectly.
She got it down- how it is drug-like, fixating, impossible to ignore. I feel like I could give Sinner to someone as an inside look of how extreme emotional attachments are formed with people that aren't good for you. We can outline it. Study it. Write a book about it.
Oh wait. Stiefvater already wrote the book.
And then, when there is finally peace in their world, the birds singing and wolves howling, we have to wait. And start again. Because, we are dealing with some messed-up broken people whom we just don’t know if they will ever get it together enough to stay, love, and be fully accepting of each other.
Although I think there is something incredibly healing about being loved by other people, that is the one area that freaked me out about this book. I feel like through reality TV, rockstars, studios, song-writing, sushi, beaches, parties and really freakin’ nice cars, there is still only one hope for Isabel and Cole- each other.
I know in most love stories this is the end-all. Yet for whatever reason this felt more desperate that other love stories, maybe because they were already so broken so their need was stronger.
Regardless of why, the saturation of need/fullfillment was at pretty high levels, which made me worried for them as a couple, and worried for the readers- that we will believe that we can only become our best, fullest, most alive, saved through another person. Don’t judge, but in real life, I don’t think it works that way.
Anyway, I know I just gave a pretty serious review of a pretty serious sounding book, but it was still funny and light-hearted even though the issues were deep. Don’t be scared off that easy! I hope you enjoy this raw, honest and intense love story as much as I did!
Violence - Mild
Note, this book also includes illegal drug use, underage drinking, and struggles with suicidal thoughts.
“Inspiring the average American to change the world to end poverty and injustice.”