04/08/2014

Review: Sinner {Maggie Stiefvater}



Written by Maggie Stiefvater

Everybody thinks they know Cole St. Clair's story: stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know his darkest secret: his ability to shift into a wolf.One of those people is Isabel. Now that Cole is back – in the spotlight, the danger zone, and in Isabel's life – they both have to face up to the inevitable truths of their relationship, and of who they are.

Is it possible for Maggie Stiefvater to write a book I won't love? (Rhetorical question, because: NO. No it is not possible.)

Sinner is a novel that can stand on its own from the Shiver trilogy (Sam and Grace are barely mentioned), but I think reading the previous books gives some essential background, especially into the supernatural elements. So that's something to bear in mind!

That being said, this story differs from Shiver in a lot of ways, the biggest being that Shiver was about love and wolves, and Sinner is mostly just about love. The paranormal aspects aren't as deeply explored and they fall to the wayside, overshadowed by Cole and Isabel's story. I didn't mind that though, since I think everything that could be covered about the wolves was covered in the previous books, and I read this for the sole purposes of seeing more of two characters that I loved: and I got what I wanted.

Sinner is very much a retrospective book, focusing less on idle conversation, or mundane drama, and more on inner monologues and self-reflection. It has a certain ambience because of that – an oddly calming and philosophical atmosphere that pulls you dreamily along.

Cole quickly became one of my favourite fictional characters after reading this. I enjoyed his story in Shiver, but Sinner fleshed him out so much more and made him into an amazingly multi-faceted boy, who was able to be both wounded and stoic in one moment, and then hilarious and flamboyant in another.

Maggie perfectly captured his quirks and various nuances, crafting the character into a complex and loveable person, whose inner struggles and faults only made me root for him more.

Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for Isabel and, ultimately, that's why this book didn't get a five rating. For the first half, I enjoyed Isabel's stony exterior and rough edges; I liked the uniqueness of having such a hard-angled protagonist. But as the book moved forward, Isabel did not. She remained bitter and jaded and, really, downright mean

The way she spoke to Cole and her cousin was so off-putting and venomous at times, that I began to bore of the chapters from her perspective. There was only so much cynicism and negativity that I could take. In the end, I'm sorry to say this, part of me felt like she didn't deserve Cole. It seemed as though she was constantly losing faith in him and blaming him for things beyond his control. It was quite a destructive relationship in that respect. 

This was a fascinating story that took the time to give us an in-depth look into some brilliantly-developed characters. As usual, I was captivated by Maggie's vivid prose and her ability to completely drown me in her story. Yet again, she created a world I didn't want to leave. If Isabel had been a bit more sympathetic and the ending had not been so rushed, this would've been a five-star read. Unfortunately, those two things let down an otherwise beautiful and somewhat haunting novel.

"It was like when you had been unhappy and didn't know it until suddenly you weren't any more." 

 
 


Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart
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28 comments:

  1. Yes. Maggie said that it's more of a contemporary rather than a paranormal wolf story. I DON'T MIND IT EITHER!!! BRING IT! "an oddly calming and philosophical atmosphere that pulls you dreamily along." Aren't almost all Maggie's books like that though? ;) That's one of the things I love about her novels so much. Eeeep! COLE. I love him. Isabel is a tough cookie and it takes time to break down her walls. I agree, she is pretty negative about a lot of things, but I still can't wait to see them together again :) A rushed ending? Hmmm. Ok. Will bear that in mind. Anyway, yay that you loved it at the end of the day ;)

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    1. Yes, all her books are! Well, except the Shiver trilogy. I thought the tone to that was completely different, so Sinner was a surprising return to form considering it's part of the same 'world' :D
      Isabel was overly negative here. It's like, 'oh, here's a puppy' and Isabel would be all, 'I WISH ALL PUPPIES WERE DEAD BECAUSE THEY LICK PEOPLE AND IT'S UNHYGIENIC'. Haha.

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  2. I actually didn't like the Shiver trilogy that much (I think I only read the first book, and gave it 2 stars or something), so I kind of just dismissed this book when it came up. It does seem like people have enjoyed this book quite a bit more than the trilogy though- it makes me want to give it a chance. Especially because I LOVE Stiefvater's other books- The Scorpio Races and The Dream Thieves were just amazing :D

    It's good to know you can read this one as a standalone! Might grab it from the library at some point :)

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    1. I get why people don't like Shiver too much, because it's not on part with Maggie's other books in a lot of ways (mostly, I think, the writing is less deep and eerily beautiful). This really does capture the tone of her other stuff and, in some parts, reminded me a lot of Raven Boys

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  3. You know, I've heard similar things about Isabel in this book. I've only read Shiver (and it's going to stay that way :P) and I did like her but since I never really got the chance to know her better I'll never really find out how profound the affects of the events in Shiver were on her. :/

    The ending does not sound fun though. I, for one, am not a fan of rushed endings. Oh I lurvee my HEAs but I am usually not very happy when issues are kind of skimmed through and then everything is all right again .-.

    But hey I am glad that all of that didn't really take away from your enjoyment of the book and I am glad Cole was totally worth it :DDD

    Lovely review, Allie! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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    1. I can honestly say this totally kicks Shiver's ass (in a nice 'oops, sorry' kind of a way).

      The ending was just . . . I think my main issue was Isabel, since she'd been so DIFFICULT for the entire book, and then randomly started being a reasonable person. LOL.

      Also: Cole makes everything worthwhile. He was amazing. Not as amazing as Gansey, of course, but then few me are ;)

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  4. Sorry about the ending...I hate when things are a bit too rushed. It takes away some of the realism. Overall, this sounds really good though. I still need to read Forever, but I am excited about this one!

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    1. Read Forever so that you can get to this. It's honestly so good and I hated when it was over. I was so enthralled throughout the entire thing, it was ridiculous

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  5. I haven't read any of her books, even though I'm pretty sure I have 2 of them. I should really read them, because so many people seem to enjoy her writing.

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    1. Oh dear God, this means you haven't read The Raven Boys. NOOOOOOO. My. Favourite. Books. Ever.
      Christy, go and read them!!!

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  6. I bought this one in hopes that it would make me finish the Shiver series, but so far, I haven't touched the book!
    I've heard nothing but good things about this book. I'm excited to get to know Cole better. He sounds like he completely stole your heart. It's a shame about Isabel. I like when characters grow, but she doesn't sound like she does a lot of growing.
    I'm glad you liked it despite Isabel and the ending, Allie.
    Lovely review!

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    1. Tbh, you don't NEED to read the Shiver series to read this, I just think it helps because then you'll know who Sam and Grace are when they're mentioned, and you'll know more about Cole's wolf background. Aside from that, Shiver is an essential background read

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  7. I always feel so awkward when I read a review of something by Maggie because I can just not connect to her writing style no matter how hard I try, and I think it's time to admit that to myself. BUT I imagine if you are able to, her books must be absolutely beautiful and intriguing, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review Allie! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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    1. Oh, really? Not even Raven Boys / Dream Thieves? Well, damn, that's just the saddest thing I've ever heard ;)

      Maggie is my favourite author, but tbh, I get why people may not enjoy her stuff. Different strokes for different folks, and all that! It's good we all have varied tastes

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  8. Even though Maggie's older books have never really impressed me as much as her newer stuff, I did enjoy Shiver and the rest of the trilogy and look forward to giving Sinner a try sometime soon. I'm really glad to see you liked it, Allie! It's a shame that the ending was slightly rushed, but it sounds like a small flaw in comparison to the rest. I know I'm itching to lose myself in Maggie's writing again.

    Great review!

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    1. Oh, her newer stuff is much better and I think Sinner reflects that. It's kind of a mix of the new and the old, so the tone is a lot more mature and Raven-esque in some ways!

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  9. Amazing review as usual, Allie! Maggie Stiefvater is really one of those authors that are tough to beat, you know? It's like she just sets the bar high :) In any case, I downloaded Shiver from Kindle Unlimited recently and I can't wait to read it! I don't feel like reading Sinner yet, at least not before I read Shiver, as I want to have the full experience. It delights me to know that you liked it nonetheless despite the problems you encountered. A judgemental and bitchy attitude would annoy me as well! Hopefully she has internal conflicts that would "justify" her outbursts...

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. She sets the bar to helicopter levels, it's just insane! Definitely my favourite author.

      Shiver is a good series, but it's not as strong as Raven Boys (though, really, what is?). Sinner is great though and I actually prefer it to the Shiver books, because it's this weird inbetween thing that just works perfectly.

      I hope you love the series! Can't wait to see what you think of it. You'll have to send me a tweet!

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  10. SO many mixed reviews for this one but I actually never saw one blogger give it 5 stars which makes me feel a bit better since I DNFed the first in the series. :P I love how honest this review is and you managed to love it even if there were some things that could have bothered a lot of people.

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    1. Oh, really? So many of the bloggers on my friends list rated it five! I felt like the odd one out lol!

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  11. Oh no! Isabel and Cole were my favourites from the original series, but she sounds really mean and nasty in this one! I can see why you'd have difficullty relating to her.

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    1. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy her for the majority of the book, but after a while her constant bitchiness just started annoying me. I think it's also because Cole was just so NICE in this book, really loyal and very charming, so it annoyed me that she was constantly hostile :/

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  12. Hhhmmm... I don't know how I'd feel about this book. Right now, I say that I can let the flaws go because I don't mind rushed endings. But sometimes, they just really don't work. Guess I'll have to find out for myself haha! Lovely review! :D

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    1. I'm willing to let the flaws in this one go, because the rest of it was genuinely amazing. I'd recommend it 100,000% :D

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  13. I have loved every single one of Maggie's book, but I'm terrified to read this because I don't know if I'll like Isabel! I mean, I really, really want more of Cole - loved the little bits we got of him in Shiver - but I just worry that his and Isabel's relationship will pale in comparison to Grace and Sam's (who I love beyond words). I'm glad you liked this overall, but the rushed ending definitely worries me too. Lovely review, Allie! (P.S. Your blog is adorable)

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    1. I actually think Isabel and Cole were more likeable than Sam and grace in a lot of ways. Just, their relationship was so much more intriguing because it was still up in the air. Honestly, give it a go and you'll be so pleased. I was shocked at how much I loved it!

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  14. All the excitement and brilliant reviews of this book and MS books in general have made me actually borrow this one. I intend to read the other 3 books first and then get to this. I am very excited to see what her writing is like and if I love her as much as everyone else seems too.

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    1. Maggie is such an astonishing author, I push her books on anyone and everyone lol. So basically: GO READ HER STUFF NOW :P

      I'd recommend The Raven Cycle books more than anything though. They're just brilliant.

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