Ratings by each book:
Shiver: 3 stars, although in hind-sight, it’s probably closer to four stars.
Linger: 3 stars, and probably still 3 stars.
Forever: 4 stars, yay, improvements!!
Sinner: 2 stars, ready for a rant.
So…I love Maggie Stiefvater, but this quartet is not a work of art. It resembles Twilight in all the ways one would probably like to forget about Twilight, like the overpowering romance and the horrible lying-to-parents-about-my-vampire-life, except, with werewolves only. I will give her credit, that this was so much more fleshed out than Twilight ever dreamed of being, and the whole science behind how the werewolves were created and worked is fascinating. So props to her. Also poetry. There’s a lot of poetry. I love poetry.
I do think, however, that the romance took center-stage a tad too much for me, and while I did love both Sam and Grace’s characters, I just…I’m not entirely sure how to explain my love-hate relationship with them. They’re teenagers. This series makes it seem like their romance is 100% going to be endgame (such a teenager thing to think when you’re in love). Grace’s parents are portrayed as idiots for thinking Sam and Grace are dumb! But they are! And like, Grace’s parents are horrible people, but Grace is so naive…
Anyway, when it comes down to it, this series is fluff and candy. It’s something pleasurable to sink my teeth into at the end of a long week. It’s exhausting, sure, to read about sometimes because their romance is…wow…and the side characters, Isabel and Cole, are giant messes.
As this series goes, I gave Shiver three stars on principle, mostly because, yes, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t have the Stiefvater charm yet (her style was not coming through). I gave Linger three stars for the same reason. But then Forever came and dang, I was surprised! It was really good! It had Stiefvater flair and a decent amount of action and felt less like romance-with-a-side-of-paranormalcy than the others. It was equal parts romance and paranormal! I was pleased! But then…well, we have Sinner, which was an absolute disaster.
Sinner did not feel like it was about werewolves, except for the few times Cole’s wolf form showed up. Sinner was a contemporary novel with a terrible, no-good, very bad romance, and a paranormal side-plot with none of the paranormal threats.
This entire series needs to come with a major trigger warning for both self-harm and suicide, which I did not anticipate going into it. Cole is suicidal and used being a werewolf as his “way out.” In Sinner, it became a form of self-harm for him to turn into one. His mental health is hardly addressed. And the worst thing of all? Isabel, his love interest, consistently tells him to “kill himself” when she’s mad at him. THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU TELL SOMEONE SUICIDAL. NEVER. Not to mention, their romance is entirely based on use and disgusted me on multiple levels. Two damaged people should not be together unless they are actively working to help themselves; it is not healthy when they use each other like a drug.
Anyway, so this series was pleasurable until the companion novel/last book (whatever you want to call it). I definitely recommend the first two, but do profess that they will never be as good as any later Maggie book, mostly because she hadn’t grown into her style yet. Read The Raven Cycle. There’s minimal romance and it’s incredibly healthy.