Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lagging sequels

Some books get lost in the shuffle because the author, for whatever reason, waited a long time to write the sequel, and by the time he or she did, readers had moved on. Some extreme examples of this would be Nancy Farmer's sequel to her dystopian novel, House of the Scorpion; there was an 11-year gap between that and The Lord of Opium, her follow-up book about Matthew Alarcon. Another example would be the books that came after The Giver, by Lois Lowry: there was a seven-year gap between books one and two; "only" four years between books two and three (Gathering Blue and Messenger); but then she waited another eight years before finishing up the series with book number four, Son!

And of course there is one of my favorites, the obscure (in America) dystopian series Obernewtyn, by Isobelle Carmody, that has either eight or 11 books in it depending on whether you read it in Australia or here; she began writing the first book while in college (in 1987) and still hasn't quite finished! (They're awesome, by the way.)

I reread one such book a couple of weeks ago; I had included one of Maggie Stiefvater's "Wolves of Mercy Falls" series (Shiver) in a paranormal fiction list for my students in library school to read, and in order to discuss it with them, I needed to refresh my memory, since I last read it five years ago. And of course, having read book one, I wanted to keep reading! I made sure to remind those who expressed a similar desire to finish the series that there is indeed a fourth book, because after Stiefvater wrote Shiver, Linger, and Forever, she took a three-year "break" to write The Scorpio Races and two books in the "Raven Cycle" (The Raven Boys, and The Dream Thieves) before returning to the Mercy Falls characters in 2014.

Sinner is something of a departure from the series; in fact, some readers describe it as a "standalone companion" rather than a sequel. Although the two main characters of Sinner appeared extensively in the three previous books, now they have (each independently) relocated away from the others, and this is solely their story.

Isabel Culpeper was presumably hauled off to California by her parents, who stated their intention in book #3 to get far away from the town where their son died and back to their west coast lifestyle; but now her parents are divorcing, and Isabel feels likewise divorced from reality. She's trying to build a life for herself, working in an exclusive clothing boutique and still shutting down her feelings, but then one day Cole St. Clair, the former rock star (and part-time wolf), shows up in her shop and tells her he's there for her. She doesn't even know how to describe the hopeful feelings this engenders, but in short order she finds out that this statement may not be entirely true; Cole has also come to California because he has agreed to be the subject of a reality show that documents his every move, as a vehicle to get his musical career back on track. The people who make this show specialize in focusing their cameras on those who already have a tendency to self-destruct, and when Isabel finds out Cole has signed on for this, she wants nothing to do with it--or him. But somehow, Cole is as irresistible as ever, and he's also determined to be the one "celebrity" who proves the show wrong.

Isabel and Cole's on-again off-again relationship is fascinating to watch--these are some great, dynamic characters Stiefvater has written. The situations created by the people who are filming Cole, too, are so realistic that I almost expected to be able to go to and see the show, streaming live! Los Angeles, good and bad--the Hollywood hype rife with social climbers and wannabes, set next to the beautiful weather and more relaxed lifestyle--is likewise almost a character. This book, although containing paranormal elements, reads a lot more like reality than like fantasy. If you have read the trilogy and always wondered what happened to Cole and Isabel, you owe it to yourself to go back and check this one out, especially if you are a hardcore Stiefvater fan!

We own copies of this book in the young adult section at all three Burbank Public Library locations, and also carry it as an audio book for those who prefer to listen.

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