I received this book for free from Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on July 1st 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Source: Book Expo America
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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?
Right, so, I make no secret of my Official Maggie Stiefvater Fangirl status. As I’ve mentioned before, she’s one of my top five authors of all time and there was more or less no way I wasn’t going to love the shit out of Sinner.
Yay for being right! I described this book to a friend as the kind of weirdo, ADHD lovechild you’d get if Maggie’s twitter had an affair with The Dream Thieves (aka, the best kind).
It’s a really interesting case study in how she’s evolved as a writer between the original Shiver trilogy and now. I recommend this book to anyone with a passing interest in her work. If you haven’t read the original trilogy, don’t stress yourself out about it. While they would obviously help establish the main characters’ back-story, pretty much everything you need to know is efficiently recapped in a way that doesn’t bog down the story.
That said, instead of writing a four million word ode to my love of this book and this author, I’m going to share my Sinner playlist to give you a soundtrack as you read (because obviously you will read this) (OBVIOUSLY) (*glares*)
Before I get too into it, you should know I have a complicated, slightly obsessive approach to playlists. I select songs based on first and foremost whether or not the tone matches the whatever I’ve built the list around. The lyrics are a secondary, though important, concern. I’ll sacrifice lyrics for tone but never tone for lyrics. The third crucial factor is that all the songs have to work together. It’ll nag me like an unscratchable mosquito bite if a song doesn’t fit. Also, just to make things even harder on myself, I generally try and find music I haven’t heard before (because fun games aren’t fun unless you rig them against yourself). The side benefit of this is every playlist leads me to new music, yay! These aren’t all brand -new-to-me songs but you get the idea.
ANYWAY. Below are a handful of songs I picked for this list along with why I picked them. The full list is a bit longer (and there’s a Spotify embed at the end of this post if you’re interested) but some songs I don’t have a specific reason for including as much as they just worked for me (also it was getting late and I needed to cut myself off and get this list up otherwise I’d tweak it forever) (I’m not even slightly joking, I’ve been messing with my The Dream Thieves playlist since the book came out last September).
And so, without further ado, I give you my list.
(Sinner scenes/moments/quotes in bold)
You Asked Why I Did It | Polish Girl – Neon Indian
Every photograph and story
Trickled through the lengthy web of friends
I over thought but understood
Distant look but looking good
And not the other way
There’s something about this song that completely matches the beginning of Sinner to me. The best way I can put it is it sounds like driving into L.A. It’s optimistic and bouncy and also sunny (? This is why I hate trying to explain my playlists, words and music don’t always match up). It reminds me of Cole’s energy on the way into town, full of plans and thinking of Isabel. Additionally the lyrics are the kind of wordplay I think he’d appreciate. Finally, it makes a great opening song, it sets the list off right.
Isabel vs. The Suburbs | Heavy Rope – LIGHTS
Turned up, in this old place again
Can’t seem, to get away
Take me back to my element
Really this song could apply to half the characters in this book, but it (nearly) perfectly encapsulates how I see Isabel (perfectly enough that I don’t think I’d find anything better unless I wrote it myself and that will happen never). It’s been on my ‘I’m saving this song for a playlist because I know the book that matches it is out there’ list for awhile now. When I got to the scene where Isabel thinks of her SoCal suburban McMansion eating her soul piece by piece all I immediately thought of Heavy Rope. The delicate, bouncy beat is perfectly juxtaposed against the lonely, hopeless plea in the words. It’s pretty and sad. The only thing it’s missing is razor sharp (metaphorical) teeth.
Awake And Gnawing | Glory and Gore – Lorde
There’s a humming in the restless summer air
And we’re slipping off the course that we prepared
But in all chaos, there is calculation
Dropping glasses just to hear them break
Change ‘glasses’ to ‘toaster’ and that’s an actual scene in the book (Cole’s kind of like a housecat, if you leave him alone and bored he will mess with things).
A Tourist In Your Own City | Trojans – Atlas Genius
Take a look
Take a picture you could never recreate
Write a song
make a note
for the lump that sits inside your throat
This song is about noticing the little things and about how stuff creeps into your head and life and never leaves. It’s my song for Cole and Leon (the limo driver Cole befriends through a combination of persistent friendliness and inability to let things go). The Cole/Leon bromance is one of my favorite parts of Sinner (honestly every part of Sinner is one of my favorite parts of Sinner) and I couldn’t let this list go without a song for them.
The Way | Global Concepts – Robert DeLong
Did I make money? Was I proud?
Did I play my songs too loud?
Did I leave my life to chance
Or did I make you fucking dance?
This track is the kind of weird I imagine Cole would put together in the studio. The lyrics are on point too. It’s all about having regrets in your past and learning from them and having fun. Plus it sounds like something Isabel can dance to.
“You are a puzzle,” Cole replied, “and you don’t like your own kind.” | Walk On By – Noosa
You’re showing me colors of the sky
But all I see grey
You lost me when you lied
I don’t ever wanna be crowned just another prize
It breaks my heart
Another song for Isabel. It’s conflicted, alternating between slow, moody piano and bright, pretty vocals. It’s about loving someone and losing them, wanting them while also wanting to run. It’s pessimistic and optimistic, it’s a mass of contradictions.
White Vinyl/Leather Dress | Feel Real – Deptford Goth
People are so cool
Somebody wants you
A lover come back,
I wanna dance like her
There’s a scene where Isabel is at a party and this song is that scene. The party is neon and lavish and glittery and happening all around Isabel yet she can’t/won’t/isn’t capable of letting it touch her.
The First Time I’d Really Realized I’d Lost My Soul | This Place Is A Prison – The Postal Service
There are guards at the on ramps armed to the teeth
And you may case the grounds from the cascades to Puget Sound,
But you are not permitted to leave
As fun and beautiful as Sinner can be, it has a dark side. Cole is an addict in the truest sense of the word. One of the biggest things he needs to learn is how to be himself with himself and there are some dark, hopeless moments as he struggles to get there.
The Look On Your Now-Ex-Girlfriend’s Face Right Before And Right After | Hurricane – MS MR
Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise
It was tricky to pick out a specific lyric for this one because really the whole song is applicable to both Cole and Isabel. They’re messed up people who deeply hate parts of themselves and the damage they cause the people around them. They both have their own issues and at times their harsh introspection broke my heart.
“Leon, are you coming with me?” | Midnight City – M83
This song is more about the tone than the words. It sounds like things are about to happen. It’s a good song to close on because it sounds like a beginning, the book may be over but it’s not the end of the story. Plus there’s a nice saxophone bridge (I think it’s the bridge? I love music but don’t speak its language) that would appeal to Leon.