Review: Sinner by Maggie Steifvater

9 July, 2014 Reviews 7 comments

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.

Review: Sinner by Maggie SteifvaterSinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on July 1st 2014
Pages: 368
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo America
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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?

From Goodreads

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
I’m afraid.

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
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.


The full list:

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.

7 Responses to “Review: Sinner by Maggie Steifvater”

  1. Amara @ Mine For The Reading

    Okay clearly I need to spend MUCH more time on this review than is allowed while sneakily reading during work. I can’t wait to listen to the music as well!

    You’re the third person so far to truly make me wonder about Sinner and whether or not I should just go ahead AND DO IT ALREADY. I think I’m just going to request it from my library or buy it or WHATEVS. SOMETHING. If it’s better than the Shiver trilogy and I DON’T need to read Forever then that works for me. 🙂
    Amara @ Mine For The Reading recently posted…Unravel Me – Tahereh MafiMy Profile

  2. Ilex

    I’m so looking forward to reading this book! Sam and Grace never did anything for me in the Shiver trilogy, but I absolutely love Isabel and Cole — they were the only reason I read all three books.

  3. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    Okay so I listened to at least a part of every song and this was a fabulously creative review. I definitely want to read Sinner, just because I think Maggie Stiefvater’s writing has improved somehow and I love her too. My favourite songs that you posted (which were all new to me!) were Global Concepts, Feel Real, and M83. I definitely have a preference for more electronic sounds. Anyway, great review!
    P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex recently posted…WoW – Dove ArisingMy Profile

  4. Courtney @ Courtney Reads A Lot

    I don’t know any of these songs, which obviously means I’ll have to listen to them all. I wasn’t a fan of Shiver when I first read it, but in my defense, this was years ago and maybe I’d like it better now. And I did LOVE The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys, so maybe I’ll also enjoy Sinner since I think her writing has improved over time. I’ll have to add it to my TBR pile. Great post! 😀
    Courtney @ Courtney Reads A Lot recently posted…Bookish to a Fault (2) – I Have A Seriesish ProblemMy Profile

  5. Angela @ Angela's Library

    I’m a shamelessly obsessed Maggie fangirl, and Sinner is tied with The Dream Thieves as my favorite of her books. Your playlist is totally on point and I really like your explanations of why you chose the songs and the way you captioned what part of the book they represent. Thanks for this great post!
    Angela @ Angela’s Library recently posted…Book Haul: January 2016My Profile

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge