July 1, 2014

Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 (Thanks Melody!) || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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? (from Goodreads)

I fell hard for Maggie Stiefvater’s gorgeous writing when I read Shiver (which was before I started the blog, hence the lack of an official review – it’ll have to wait for a reread) years ago. My cousin Carmela and I had been on one of our usual jaunts to the huge branch of Fully Booked (my favorite in Manila!), and we were intensely drawn to the beautiful cover. 

Now, I’m hesitant about reading paranormal in general so I was wary of these werewolves. Little was I to know that Maggie’s storytelling style would completely work for me, or that I would fall head over heels in love with Sam, Grace and the werewolves. 

I continued on with the series, reading Linger and Forever. While I didn’t love either as much as I adored Shiver, I am very grateful that they introduced me to another character I could love: Cole, the rockstar-turned-werewolf. 

Predictably, when I first heard Sinner was happening, my feelings were very mixed. I hadn’t been too thrilled about the additional books in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series at all (and I’ve said it before – Shiver actually could work as a standalone). But in the end, it came down to these three things: 
  • I adore Maggie Stiefvater and her writing style, and pretty much will read anything she writes, 
  • Cole (freaking) St. Clair is a character I loved, loved, loved, and could definitely use more of in my life. 
  • Isabel is a force to be reckoned with, a character hard to ignore, and I’m admittedly curious about her too. 
Sinner was all I could have asked for, and then some. It takes two familiar players of the series, plunks them down a world away from Minnesota in LA (or, more appropriately termed for this book, la la land) and just lets them have at it. And by “it”, I’m talking about their lives, themselves – each other. It’s a convoluted, messy journey, but underneath the sparkle of celebrity and glamour, there’s definitely something real, raw and human about Cole’s story, and Isabel’s story, and the points at which they intersect. 

Honestly, I was predisposed to love Sinner simply because I love Cole St. Clair. Sure, he’s not the ideal boy to fall in love with, or even the type you’d take home to meet your parents. He’s rough around the edges, indulging in more vices than I can count on two hands, with comments and actions that are razor sharp and not always very nice. But he’s also vulnerable, constantly on guard because his emotions threaten to overwhelm him. 

Sinner focuses heavily on his struggle to be good, be better, to outrun the demons that plague him. While this might make it sound like the novel is sad and heavy, it actually isn’t. I’m pretty sure it mostly has to do with how cleverly Maggie writes this story, making it wistful and emotional and fun all at once. Oh, and of course, it has a little to do with how Cole and Isabel are together

Put two ticking bombs together, and you get these two. Both are damaged beyond a doubt, so you already know that a relationship between them has the potential to end in disaster… or in triumph. When Cole shows up in LA, Isabel’s new hometown, he rocks her world by inserting himself into her life at every opportunity. Things between them are volatile, and passionate, and with each thing, I just willed them into a better place together, but you’ll have to read for yourself to see how things wind up going. 

It makes sense for me to tell you all a little bit about Isabel now. Oh Isabel, the girl who has lived through such tragedy, who refuses to be vulnerable again, who wants to be strong and unemotional and to succeed. My heart broke for this girl a little more with everything that was happening to her, and Maggie definitely does not let her off the hook in Sinner. I fell a bit more in love with her, in spite of the damage (and the prickliness). 

Add in a couple of fun secondary characters for color (Leon is my favorite!), throw in great descriptions of Los Angeles (Made me want to plan a visit!) and you’ve got quite the potent mix for Sinner. While the writing is surprisingly not as fluid to read as it was in Shiver, it still felt like a Stiefvater creation. I’m thrilled that Maggie was willing and able to tell Cole and Isabel’s story so well, and can highly recommend this one for fans of the series.


  1. I love this review. I've seen some mixed things for this book, but after reading this trilogy and having different feelings than everyone else, I have to admit that I'm really excited to pick this one up. I mean, I LOVE Maggie S. and of course the trilogy is lovely (and her writing, MERCY!), but wolves are my least favorite paranormal...thing. BUT!! Cole is my favorite so I'm thrilled to have another chance to read about him. So, yeah, I think I'm pretty excited about this one.

    Thanks Alexa! (: I loved reading a review for this book that made me as happy as this one did!

  2. Shiver was my first Maggie Stiefvater book, and I fell head over heels in love with her writing. Her prose is just so gorgeous. I felt the same way as you though - I thought Shiver could have been a standalone and loved where it ended. After probably a year I finally picked up Linger (loved it, but not as much as Shiver), and working through Forever now. I'm not Isabel's biggest fan, but Cole definitely intrigues me. I'm excited to get their full story in Sinner.

    I heard it's sort of melodramatic, but I guess that makes sense for these two. I'm glad you were ultimately satisfied with this addition to the series. :)


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