Book Reviews

Review: “Sinner,” Maggie Stiefvater

September 2, 2015
Review: “Sinner,” Maggie StiefvaterSinnerby Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4
on July, 2014
Genres: Romance, Werewolves / Shifters
Pages: 357
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn't just want her. He needs her.

Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It's not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes...but what's the point? What is there to win?

Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to save each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go.

I wanted to LOVE Sinner as much as I loved the other books in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, but I just ‘liked’ it. It didn’t feel like it should be part of the series, rather a ‘companion’ to it more than anything else. Yes, two of my favourite characters in the universe are back – and they’re TOGETHER – but I’m not sure the journey that took place in this book really needed to be it’s own book.

“I can’t change the way I’m made. I’m a performer, a singer, a werewolf, a sinner.”

YAY, let’s just reflect a moment on how great it is to see Cole St Clair and Isabel Culpeper again after thinking we never would again. To be honest, it’s probably the main reason why I rated this book so highly even though I didn’t have as much fun reading it as I thought I would. I could read about these characters doing the most mundane of things and still be entertained.

After reading The Wolves of Mercy Falls again, picking up Sinner and getting involved right away was easy. The same characters I’d become familiar with were there, as well as their snarky exchanges and hot-and-cold romance. It was great to see that Maggie Stiefvater still had a firm handle on characters she’d written five years ago.

What I wasn’t pleased about, however, was how easily Cole and Isabel had slid back into their old selves since leaving Minnesota. They each had grown SO MUCH in Forever and I would have loved to believe that that only continued after the last page. In Sinner, however, they seem to be right back where they started from – unhappy, unsure of themselves and still struggling with issues I thought they were on their way to overcoming.

Cole is (sadly) bored of his life in Minnesota on the peninsula he purchased from Koenig. Leaving the wolves and Sam and Grace behind (YAY SAM AND GRACE – more on this later) he goes to California to find Isabel, as well as kind of stitch his band back together and do a webisode series with a lady name ‘Baby’.

Okay, this all seems fine until the ‘celebrity life’ starts getting Cole down again. Isabel, afraid of getting hurt, isn’t having a bar of it and is back to her old ways – kissing Cole one minute, screaming at him the next.

Cole picks up a few new characters along the way – the profound but boring-to-read-about Leon who was his driver when he arrived in California, and Jeremy – ex-NARKOTIKA bassist and now-buddhist. We also meet more characters such as Leyla, the new drummer and Magdelene, the superhot singer who Cole used to be pals with back in NARKOTIKA days.

“I deal with the crap as it happens, and then it’s gone. When you don’t think about it, it lives forever.”

As for Isabel, we learn her parents are getting a divorce (no surprise there) and she is now living with her mother, aunt and cousin Sofia. Sofia is the weirdest character, seriously… I’m not quite sure I ever understood her. There’s also the girls Isabel works with, and the husband of her boss, Mark.

Maggie Stiefvater does her usual thing and makes sure all the characters have a life, a past and a purpose. I just couldn’t bring myself to really get behind anyone, because for me, reading Sinner, it was all about nostalgia and carrying on Isabel and Cole’s story.

Sinner feels like a contemporary book rather than a werewolf book. In fact, there’s not much ‘werewolf’ in it at all. Cole utilises the wolf as a drug, nothing more. There’s nothing about the science behind it, or the magic, and no information whatsoever about what the pack back in Minnesota is doing or how they’re adjusting to the peninsula.

Sam and Grace make brief appearances via telephone. And I mean brief. Super brief. We learn from Cole that they are both out in Duluth at summer school. I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THEM – their cures, etcetera. So many questions I had went unanswered in this department!

I didn’t expect much in the way of throwbacks, but I would have liked something.

“I was so tired of being alone, but I was always alone, even when I was with people around me. And I was so tired of being surrounded, but I was always surrounded, even when I was by myself.”

Pretty much, Sinner is once again Cole riding the rollercoaster of new fame and trying to juggle his weird relationship with Isabel. The fact that he’s a sometimes-werewolf doesn’t factor much in to it unless he’s craving a high or an escape, and don’t expect to see much from anyone else from the Wolves of Mercy Falls series unless you enjoyed Tom Culpeper (he makes a small appearance) and Isabel’s mum.

I enjoyed it enough to read it, but as a BIG FAN of the series, even I don’t feel like it was appropriately placed as a fourth book. I’ll say it again – companion, sure, but fourth book? Nope. I loved seeing Cole and Isabel together again, and being inside their heads, I just wish they had a more wolfey and exciting story to tell!

I can’t help but feel that Sinner has only left me with more questions than I had in Forever.

Recommended to: If you are a fan of the series, like me, how can you NOT want to read Sinner? Just be prepared – it’s more of a contemporary piece than continuation.

About Maggie Stiefvater

All of Maggie Stiefvater's life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you're a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she's tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She's made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

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