Monday, November 17, 2014

Series Review: WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS by Maggie Stiefvater

Series title: Wolves of Mercy Falls
Book titles: 
1. Shiver
2. Linger
Author: Maggie Stiefvater 

Summary (Shiver): the cold. Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why. 

the heat. Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now. 

the shiver. For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human--and Grace must fight to keep him--even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future. 

Why I read it: I heard about this series a long time ago and thought it sounded awesome. So it got put on a "to buy" list, and my mom picked up the hardcover boxed set a couple years ago. She read them immediately and loved them, but I just haven't had the urge to get to them. But this summer, I learned that Maggie Stiefvater was coming to my area in November, so I decided to read the series before I got to meet her. (This event happened last Monday, so click here to view pictures on my Instagram account!) Also, her other series (The Raven Cycle) has gotten a LOT of hype, especially since the third book was released just a couple weeks ago. So I thought it was about time! 

Thoughts: First of all, I really enjoyed this series. These were the first werewolf books I've ever read, and it was a good introduction to the creature. However, I had some problems with the series that luckily did not diminish my enjoyment too much. I will start with those, and then tell what I did like about it. 

Let's start with our main characters, Grace and Sam. Grace is a girl who was attacked by the werewolves as a child, but never turned into one. Sam is the yellow-eyed wolf that she's always felt connected to who suddenly turns back into a boy that she falls in love with. Yes, it's a little insta-lovey. Her connection and almost obsession with the wolf at the beginning of the book borders on creepy. It's like she's in love with the wolf before she even knows he's a boy and it's super weird. 

Grace is a very straightforward, no-nonsense character, which is refreshing for a young adult novel. She is not constantly plagued by daydreams or romantic fantasies, and I really appreciated that. Sam, however, has taken on all of those qualities. He is a sensitive, guitar-playing, song-writing, poetry-reading boy. And while I do like the musician side of him, Sam often writes songs in his head. And they seem spontaneous, four to six lines coming to his mind immediately when the situation arises. And that is super annoying. It's a pet peeve of mine. Sam and Grace and their romance are cheesy enough on their own, but the song lyrics make it almost unbearable. And just to drive that point home, we are introduced to another musician in the second book, and he is the complete opposite of Sam. 

In fact, let's move on to the other characters in the books. The aforementioned second musician is Cole St. Clair, and he is undoubtedly my favorite character in the series. Which is upsetting, since he isn't introduced until the second book. He is the angsty, angry, sarcastic, bad boy, and I absolutely LOVE HIM. Especially when he meets Isabel, a friend of Grace's, and sparks fly. I enjoyed Cole and Isabel infinitely more than Sam and Grace. 

I also feel like the pacing was inconsistent throughout the series. All three books feel a little slow, with a large chunk of action happening at the end, and a lot of build-up happening until then. All three endings are very abrupt, but in different ways. The ending of Shiver feels like an indie movie, with a climax and an extended denouement with a very sudden turn on the last page. Though the first book is my least favorite in the series, it may have my favorite ending. It left me wanting more, but it could be read on its own. 

The ending of Linger is even more abrupt, with the climax happening in the last few pages and very little denouement happening afterward. I enjoyed the majority of Linger more than Shiver, but I did not love the ending. 

The ending of Forever, and of course the end of the trilogy, had a very open ending. By the end of the story, we were still left wondering what happens to our favorite characters, and not in the best way. I usually don't mind open endings, but this one left me feeling a little unresolved.  

Now, I said that I enjoyed the series, despite the problems I had with it. And I really did. I believe that my favorite part about this book is the mythology. This is the first werewolf series I've ever read, but I absolutely loved the mythology and the science behind the werewolves. We're told that the werewolves change to wolves when it is cold outside, and that during the summer, they get to be human again. This explanation changes a bit throughout the series, with characters making new discoveries, but I loved all of it. It's so unique and different from other werewolf stories out there. 

The dialogue is fantastic, especially between Cole and Isabel. Their relationship is more believable than Sam and Grace. And I suppose that's a good thing, since Maggie Stiefvater recently released a companion book to the trilogy entitled Sinner, which is all about Cole and Isabel. YAY. I would read about Cole and Isabel forever, so I'm hoping to read that soon. And hopefully it will provide us with a little more closure about Sam and Grace and I can feel at peace about the Mercy Falls world. 

Best of all, even though this series wasn't my favorite, it has convinced me to pick up more Maggie Stiefvater. I just purchased The Scorpio Races, and I bought Blue Lily, Lily Blue at the signing, so I just need to get the first two books. 

If you haven't picked up this series, I would still definitely recommend them, especially if you have an inclination towards paranormal romance stories that are heavy on the romance. 

Individual ratings: 
Shiver: 3/5 stars
Linger: 3.5/5 stars
Forever: 4/5 stars 

Rating overall: 3.5/5 stars 

Tell me: have YOU read the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below! 

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