Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner (Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: July 1st 2014
My rating:  2.5 stars 
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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 Thoughts:
I have very mixed feelings about Sinner.  There were parts I loved: the writing and the chemistry between Cole and Isabel, and then there was the not so much. I will say I was happy to have closure for Cole and Isabel after so long.

Cole has moved to Los Angeles in an attempt to re-start his music career.  But the main reason he chose L.A. is because Isabel is there and Cole wants a future with her.  Instead of signing on with a record label Cole has agreed to make an album while having it documented by a “reality” show.  One that specializes in featuring stars self-destruct in the process. Cole finds Isabel and inside she dares to dream that he’s here just for her.  In Cole’s mind he is, but when Isabel finds out about the “reality” show she’s ticked and rightfully so in my opinion. What sane girl relishes the idea of her potential boyfriend/partner staring in a reality show? I get hives just thinking about it!

Sinner had a couple of things going against it (for me) from the beginning that may not be a problem for other readers.  First of all, the whole premise of starring in a sensationalized reality show was a big negative for me. I can’t stand “reality” shows that are high on drama and character implosions.  Second, even though I live in a suburb of Los Angeles, I hate the fake and superficial Los Angeles/Hollywood lifestyle where everyone must have the newest, brightest, best of everything: looks and things.  And this is the setting.  Cole and Isabel didn’t buy into that, but still, that was the setting and it came through loud and clear. I think this is the main reason it felt so different from the rest of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  It didn’t feel anything like it, actually.  The whole shifting and wolf thing hardly factored in the story at all.

The chemistry between Cole and Isabel was palpable and they shared some very sexy moments. It was the best thing about the story, IMO.  But, this was not a couple gradually rejoining, sharing life’s burdens and bonding over common feelings. There was no such “togetherness”.   Cole and Isabel had their own problems they didn’t really discuss with each other.  Each dealt separately and then they’d come together here and there and smooch. Granted, these smooch-fests were very lusty, Maggie is a whiz at building the moment up, but I want more than just kissing.  I want a deep connection, but Cole and Isabel were never really on the same page for the better part of the book.  Cole was always chasing and Isabel was always running.  That was okay, it was nothing unbearable because, like I said they’d get together and have these amazing moments, but then the last 20% there was a series of strange and unhappy events. I wouldn’t say it was high drama, just more melancholy angstiness, and then BAM at the very end everything is settled without really sorting anything out.  I was a little bewildered, and I’m still scratching my head to be honest.

I do adore Maggie’s writing and I’m always in awe at how she’s able to set the mood and make you feel every scene as though it were happening to you, but I was hoping for more.  Especially since Cole and Isabel were my favorite couple in Forever. 


  1. I like a few reality shows and I have seen my fair share of them so I don't have a problem with this aspect. I wonder how you'd like Kiss the Sky by Krista and Becca Ritchie seeing as that has a reality TV in it too, but it's more like The Hills imo. And it's really different considering that the characters are all extremely loving and caring with each other. Anyhow, about Sinner, I think this setiing works for Cole and Isabel and I can't wait to explore it myself, but I'm sorry you didn't like it. My opinion may change ofc when I read the book. I think Maggie said somewhere that it's more about the relationships and character growth rather than the paranormal aspect of the story. Sorry you felt like the ending part was unresolved basically and came out of the blue. I hope that your next Maggie book will appeal more to you, Rach!

    1. I think I'll be okay with Addicted even if there is the reality show aspect to it. So many people love the series, and I trust your opinion, Siiri. :) Plus, I'm not the only one who had issues with Sinner and the setting. Also, it seems Maggie Stiefvater sort of wanted this reaction to the setting. She hated L.A. when she first visited and then loved it for exactly the same reasons on another trip. She said she wanted readers to have a strong reaction to Sinner, either love or hate. I think I had a little of both with mixed feelings in between. :/

  2. What a bummer. I'm sorry this didn't work for you, Rachel. I have been hesitant to read it because I was worried I would be disappointed, and I haven't had time to go back and read the rest of the series.

  3. Sadly, that's how I feel about a lot of Maggie's books. She's a brilliant writer, gorgeous prose and's beautiful. But the I'll still read it, though!

  4. Ah! I'm sad that this didn't work too well for you, Rachel. I haven't finished the Wolves of Mercy Fall series yet, but I bought this book hoping it would give me the motivation to finish it.
    I completely understand your need for the couple to have a more emotional connection and it does seem like it's more lust in this one. I'm still going to give it a shot, but I'm definitely lowering my expectations.
    Great review, Rachel.

  5. Huh. I wouldn't have expected a reality show in Sinner. I hate those too. I expected a story more along the lines of the rest of the series. I love Stiefvater's writing, but am not sure about this. Thanks for the review!

  6. Oh no! Cole is my fave from the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and I have been SUPER excited about this book. However, yours is not the first 'didn't love it' review I've read and now I am SCARED! So, I'm going to leave it a while until it's not so hyped up in my head.

    I have to say I'm surprised by the reality TV angle - just doesn't really seem like something Cole would do? He's way to cool for that. Lol!

  7. AW :( I'm sorry you had such issues with this book sweetie. I ended up rating it five stars. But I also had many of these issues. I HATED what Isabel did near the end of the book. Just, what the fuck. And she never told him. I hated that. Meaning I kind of hated her a bit too. But I loved Cole. <3 Which is why I loved this book. Buuuut. Not enough Sam and Grace :'( SOBS. And I wanted more of the wolf parts. Sigh. Still. I did love it. Amazing review sweetie. <3

  8. I am sorry to hear you had such mixed feelings on this one. I was so looking forward to it. I agree though reality shows are not my bag either and I hate them so I don't like that aspect. Still I am going to listen to this one and hope for the best.

  9. Cole and Isabel weren't my favorite couple from the original Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy--not by a long shot--and I didn't expect (or dream) of a conclusion to their story so Sinner fell into my lap as an unexpected surprise. Thus, I went into it with fewer expectations that you did, Rachel, but I definitely was bothered by many of the same struggles you held. The last 20%, like you said, was filled with so many back-to-back sequences when all I really wanted was for these two to sit down and TALK rationally. Plus, the setting of LA didn't work for me, personally. I think it fit the tone of the novel perfectly and drew out these characters in their best light, but I definitely prefer the quiet of the Minnesota woods. Still, I'm glad aspects of this DID work out for you and I hope your next Stiefvater read lives up to your expectations! :)

  10. I usually enjoy reality shows themed books! I have read a few and really liked them. Although, I DNFed Shiver so I don't think I'll get to this book someday at all. :/ I do like her writing but the atmosphere in Shiver put me to sleep, LOL. Sorry you didn't like it but at least you didn't hate it ;) Fantastic review, Rachel!

  11. I despise reality shows as well and I am also getting the hives thinking about it! I had NO IDEA that this book also featured a reality show and I must say, I am pretty damn happy about my decision to not continue the series right now.

    It also sounds like there is a lack of communication between the two and while.. those moments may be worth it, I love communication between couples more than anything and it's a HUGE pet peeve of mine when the couple just refuses to sit down and *gasp* TALK!

    I am sorry you didn't enjoy this as much as you wanted to :(

    Thanks for the honest review, Rachel!!!

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  12. Oh man. I've been wanting to start this series (so I kinda skimmed the review), but I'm not sure how I'd feel about this one. I'm always iffy on that kind of setting (it really depends for me), but I really need something THERE for the couple. It's great they have amazing moments, but it makes me nervous that there's a lack of communication. It makes the relationship less believable. Ugh. Decisions for me! I love reading your review though, Rachel!

  13. We had very similar views on this book. The LA setting didn't bug me like it did you, but I did feel pretty desperate to get back to Sam and Grace in Minnesota. I also had such trouble with the last 25% of the book that the happy ending just didn't give me any sort of emotional satisfaction. Mostly because Isabel made me ANGRY. I can't believe what she did. And I didn't appreciate the the author went with a big reveal end instead of actually having these two communicate. I NEEDED that to happen.

  14. Sinner is everything I expected from Stiefvater and so much more, this is the novel that Shiver fans have been waiting for. This was definitely well-worth the wait and it's a treat to help ease the painful wait until Blue Lily, Lily Blue releases. Remind me to never doubt the power and gorgeousness of Maggie Stiefvater's writing ever again because Maggie can do no wrong in my book!
    Highly recommended Alaska Real Estate


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