Published: July 1st 2014 by Scholastic
Format: Hardcover, 357 pages
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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?
Sinner is an emotional read (like all of Stiefvater’s books). It takes your feelings and stomps on them, revelling in your tears and heartbreak.
Ok. It’s not that extreme. But it is rather intense.
Sinner is a raw, unapologetic look at the darkest parts of the human spirit. It’s not a hopeful story of love and loss like Sam and Grace’s story. Isabel and Cole bare the darkest secrets of humanity’s soul. Surprisingly, it’s very light on the supernatural themes. The other books focussed much more on the ‘werewolf’ side of things, but Sinner is more a story of a boy who has to redeem himself after making horrible mistakes, and one of them happens to be that he willingly turned into a werewolf and is now addicted to the freedom the change grants him. Basically, Sinner reads like a contemporary story.
OMG Cole St. Clair. I was always gravitating between wanting to hug this kid and kick his ass. Mostly I wanted to do both. Cole’s broken. A teen rock-god who liked to get high in all sorts of ways, he got utterly disillusioned with his life and decided to go to Minnesota and become a werewolf. That, predictably, led to trouble. Now Cole’s in LA, hiding his lupine nature from the world and trying to record an album on a reality TV show.
Nothing to see here, move along people. It’s not like this situation is heading for disaster.
And then we have Isabel, who is also in LA. She’s dealing with the separation of her parents, her father’s cruelty and her mother’s fragility. She’s living with an equally sad cousin and aunt. Things are not going well for Isabel, and when Cole breezes into her life once more, bringing with him memories of Jack and what happened in Mercy Falls, things start to unravel.
Cole and Isabel together is explosive. It’s volatile and caustic and more than a little painful. But this book explores, rather brilliantly, how amazing and right two broken people can be together. Because underneath all the sarcasm and hurtful comments, these two genuinely care about each other and understand one another like most other people don’t. They’re glorious, even in ruin.
The story-telling is superb. Steifvater’s gorgeous prose frame the action beautifully, and as usual, a lot of thought has gone into what goes said, and unsaid, in this story. It’s wonderful. If you haven’t experienced her writing, you should change that as soon as possible.
The secondary characters surprised me in this novel because none of them turned out to be the people I thought they were. I’d love to read more about each of them — maybe more spin-off books!
Firstly there’s Sofia, Isabel’s cousin who has social anxiety (that’s what I thought it was but I could have read it totally wrong, and I’m sorry if I did). She’s well-written and real and an absolute pleasure to get to know. I love how she blossomed with her father – Stiefvater’s books are somewhat light on positive relationships between adults and teens, and that scene damned near broke my heart.
Secondly, there’s Jeremy – ex bassist for NARKOTIKA and Cole’s best (only?) friend. I wasn’t expecting him to be so different from Cole, and yet understand him so, so well. And while we usually talk about characters who ground others flippantly, Jeremy is exactly that to Cole. It was great to watch. And that little addition with Star? Another heart-breaking moment, to see just how life had gone on in Cole’s absence.
And lastly, because he was my favourite, the driver Leon. Was there ever a greater secondary character? Nope. Not since Cole was a secondary character in the first three books.
Sinner is perfect. Read it if you liked the other Mercy Falls books. Read it if you’ve never read the other books. Just … read it.