Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Sinner by Maggie StiefvaterSinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4
Published by Scholastic on July 1, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 357
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
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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?

My history with Maggie Stiefvater’s writings is complicated. I’ve read her first four novels (LamentBallad, Shiver, Linger) and I DNFed the fifth (Forever). The ones I liked best were in the 3-3.5 range and I really didn’t like some of the others. I made it about three pages into Forever before I physically threw it away from me. You would think this would mean I would stop adding Stiefvater’s books to my to-read list. And yet I have both The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys. Then I requested the fifth Mercy Falls book. What the hell was I thinking? Am I just a greedy blogger who had to have the popular Stiefvater ARC? Jury’s out on that, but part of it is that Maggie’s later plots sound so good. As for Sinner, the only people I loved in Mercy Falls were Cole St. Clair and Isabel Culpeper. That makes Sinner my favorite Maggie Stiefvater novel to date.

The problem I had with most of the prior Stiefvater novels were the leads, who were basically the sort of people who murder banter. They bore me to tears. Cole and Isabel’s narration on the other hand crackles and pops with incendiary wit. They’re rough-edges, tremendously-flawed, violent, strange, hateful, inconsiderate, stubborn, and visceral. They’re not the sort of people I can imagine myself being friends with ever, but they’re fascinating. They’re compelling, the sort of people who, against their own will sometimes, cannot help drawing other people to them, like the flame that draws moths. These are the sort of characters that I like to read about.

gif because i'm half wolf

In Sinner, I feel like Stiefvater may have realized somewhere along the line that the wolf thing isn’t really the best part. In fact, the wolf stuff hardly factors into this book at all. If you loved the Mercy Falls series for the shifting, you might be disappointed, but, if you were skeptical, then this is what you wanted. In fact, read as a standalone, the wolf is so entirely a metaphor in this book for the escapism Cole St. Clair indulged in during his younger years. The wolf is his desire to not be himself, to not think, to not deal, to not live as a human. The wolf is much more powerful this way than as an odd paranormal plot line, because, honestly, it factors into the plot not an iota.

Were I one to use the classification, I would actually put Sinner in new adult, probably. Though they’re still young, Cole and Isabel are dealing with new adult problems. Isabel’s taking a nursing class before med school and working a retail job. Cole’s a rock star trying to figure out what to do with his life. Unlike the rest of the Mercy Falls books, there’s not the slightest touch of high school in this one. Sinner is dark and edgy.

gif i want to not do things parks april

Both Isabel and Cole have inner demons to fight. That’s the real plot here. Can these two get together in spite of themselves? They’re drawn to each other, but they’re both hesitant to commit for various reasons. Ultimately, they don’t entirely trust one another and for good reason. Cole doesn’t trust Isabel to stay and Isabel doesn’t trust Cole to stay sober. Their relationship problems are their own and no one else’s. No one is trying to keep them apart and, actually, they do have some shippers trying to help these two kids work it out.

The other aspect of Sinner I found so charming were the characters that Cole and Isabel pick up along the way. I say ‘pick up’ because they don’t do anything the way ‘normal’ people do. Cole befriends his driver, Leon, an older man a bit sad with life. I also adore Isabel’s cousin Sofia and would honestly love a book about her coming of age, the poor sweet dear. There’s just something so fabulous about the way Cole and Isabel interact with people. They’ve got such powerful voices and ways of being. Plus, I have to love any two people who are so incredibly terrible at small talk as Cole and Isabel. It’s so much fun watching them either intimidate or confuse anyone they speak to.

gif i hate talking to people april parks

If Sinner is what Maggie Stiefvater’s writing has become since her debut, I may just have to jump on the bandwagon. Sinner‘s a departure from the rest of the Mercy Falls books, so that’s something to be aware of. I think there’s definitely appeal here for new adult readers who might have been hesitant to try something paranormal in a series. Though part of the series, it does serve nicely as a standalone.

Favorite Quote:

I gave so many damns at once that it actually hurt.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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7 responses to “Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater”

  1. Steena says:

    I love the Scorpio Races with a fiery passion and the first of the Raven Boys Cycle is very good, I’m eager yo read the rest. But Ijust cannot get behind the Mercy Falls series. Given this review, I may give Sinner a try but I’ll skip the in between.

    • Christina Franke says:

      I keep hoping I will love Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys. If I really do, I’ll be so tempted to reread her older stuff, but I REALLY don’t think I’ll ever be able to handle Sam and Grace. Or the weird wolf stuff. I LOVE shifters, but I just side eye most of this.

      I think you should give this one a try. They’re really interesting and you can totally read the wolf stuff as a metaphor for drugs. Which frankly would have made Sam and Grace more interesting.

  2. Meg says:

    Am I just a greedy blogger who had to have the popular Stiefvater ARC? <—Don't be too hard on yourself, anyone would cave to the (not at all) subtle, unrelenting fangirlish peer pressure I more or less constantly put forth when it comes to Maggie.


    Yeah, I was going to try and be all rational and normal and calm but hahahahahhahahahahahahahaha right.
    Meg recently posted…Review: Afterworlds by Scott WesterfeldMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      It’s true. But hey you were right this time, so it’s all good. At least I did not waste the popular ARC. Also, it’s been out for a couple of months, so I doubt anyone would care at this point.

      Hahaha, I borrowed the incendiary wit line from RENT, but it was too perfect not to borrow. April is totally the perfect casting for Isabel, who let’s face it is my spirit animal. I really want that job where not giving a fuck is a good thing, because hell yeah.

      looooool. I don’t think I would recognize you if you were all rational and calm. Like who is this really?

  3. I’ve read the majority of Maggie’s books, but my first (and favorite, so far) is The Raven Boys. Reading her early books/series after The Raven Boys was a shocking experience. The storyline isn’t as mysterious and dark, the characters aren’t as intriguing and unique, and the writing isn’t as hypnotizing. It just goes to show that authors change and improve just like other people. I liked the older books, but I expected to love them, so I was a bit disappointed.

    I definitely recommend reading The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, but skip out on rereading the older books. Your opinion probably won’t change much.

    Sinner was phenomenal! It’s such a huge change from the original Mercy Falls books. And, the lycanthropy metaphor is brilliant!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      That’s good to hear. There’s definitely room for author’s to mature and I love when they do. I could see the promise of the early books, but, generally, the lackluster main characters left me bored and the worldbuilding and plot weren’t strong enough to carry everything.

      I’m not planning to reread those. Though I’m kind of tempted to force my way through Forever so I can say I finished the series. Why do I hate myself?

      The lycanthropy is SO much better as a metaphor than as actual paranormal. SO. MUCH. BETTER.

  4. […] @ A Reader of Fictions reviewed “Sinner” by Maggie Stiefvater. I agree with the majority of the points she discussed in her review. As a matter of fact, many of […]

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