Sunday, March 20, 2011

Half-Year Sun

The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy
by Maggie Stiefvater
Consisting of: Shiver and Linger (Forever coming in July)

When Grace Brisbane was eleven, a pack of wolves dragged her from a tire swing in her backyard; however, one wolf protected her from the rest of the pack and she survived. Ever since that day, Grace has been obsessed with the wolves of Mercy Falls, especially the one who saved her. When her savior is shot after a local teen is supposedly killed by wolves, Grace finds him on her back a naked teenage boy.

Things move pretty quickly between Grace and Sam, much to the chagrin of Grace's often-absent parents, who claim that at age seventeen Grace cannot possibly be in love. Other more pressing troubles ensue when the sister of the supposedly dead teen discovers that the pack is more than what they seem, and Sam fights to retain his humanity.

In Stiefvater's werewolf lore, those who are bitten become wolves. However, rather than being dictated by the full moon, the shifting is dictated by temperature. Thus, the wolves are human during the summer months, although each year it takes a higher temperature for the wolves to turn. Eventually, they simply stop shifting completely, though no one knows why. Typically, most werewolves seem to get about a decade of shifting, but for some unbeknownst reason, this is Sam's last year as a human. And thus, he and Grace are desperate to find a cure.

The writing is simple, yet lyrical, often reading like the poetry Sam so much admires. The characters are fully developed, and with the narrative shifting between the two lovers chapter by chapter, we are able to fully understand the complexities and vulneratbilities of both, which is often missing in other teen romance fiction, where we are only presented with the girl's idealized vision of her lover.

That being said, I feel the premise would have been stronger had Ms. Stiefvater left the characters at the end of Shiver. While Linger is still a decent read, the added perspective of Grace's friend Isabel and newcomer bad boy Cole muddles the narrative. The story also takes an overly melodramatic shift, nearly transforming the story from an honest romance into a teen soap opera. I am definitely interested in seeing how the story resolves itself in Forever this summer, and I hope it's a return to form.

While my husband may mock me, deriding the series as "Twilight with werewolves", I am not ashamed to admit my enjoyment of this series. Turn on some old Promise Ring albums while you read this one.

Series Grade (Thus Far): A-

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