Review: Sinner

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date of Publication: July 1, 2014
Pages: 357

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?


I've decided that it's not very useful to spend an entire review singing the virtues of a certain character, so let me get it over with. COLE.


Cole St. Clair is one of my favourite characters because he is so incredibly vivid. Cole constantly puts on a show and he blurs the lines between fake and real. Cole is magnetic, and the type of person I would love in my life because he is so spontaneous. He wants to really live a fascinating, fun life, and is always pushing the limits. I think it's his fun-loving, adventurous spirit and the passion he had for music that drew me to him. 

Isabel, who is remarkably like Elsa from Frozen when you think about it, continues her Ice Queen act. Except, as readers privy to Isabel's thoughts, it becomes clear that Isabel is in a lot of pain. She expresses her pain by numbing it. It doesn't matter. She doesn't care. She distances herself from anything that could hurt her, and this also ends up hurting her. Isabel is also putting on a show, but hers is different from Cole's. Isabel seems more desperate, more lost, more in need than Cole. Cole knows when he is putting on a facade, but Isabel starts believing she can't feel, and I feel like this difference matters. 

Not to say that Cole doesn't have his issues. He's a rock star and that sort of life has consequences. Cole has too much energy, and he was often described as 'manic'. He couldn't be more different than Isabel, who is so calm and cool all the time. For Isabel, it's hard to see have energy until some of the cracks of her Ice Queen persona appear and they're so unexpected that is was a little jarring for me. 

It is much easier to connect with Cole because he's really one of those amazing characters that you fall in love with and wish were real. But it's Isabel that I believe to be the most unique character. Perhaps she isn't the character I like more, but I'm curious about Isabel. There are moments where I feel like I've figured her out and can connect, and there are others that make me think she is still a mystery. With Cole, I feel like I understand him, but there is still that intrigue with Isabel that makes her incomparable, while Cole could be (pretty crudely) compared to Adam from Gayle Forman's books, to begin with. I will always love characters like Cole, but I think Isabel deserves a shoutout too. 

Judging from the amount I've written about both characters thus far, you can tell that this book is mostly about the characters. I don't think there is any outside plot beyond the development of Cole and Isabel and their relationship. The tone of Sinner is a bit different from Stiefvater's other work. I think it's a bit more accessible to people that aren't into the very atmospheric, fatalistic writing that was in Shiver, The Scorpio Races, and The Raven Boys. Sinner is urban. It does not require much memory of the events of Shiver, although I suppose they would help fill some gaps because Stiefvater does not recap her previous series. The writing is more raw and precise. Isabel is quite the minimalist, and Cole only cares about what he needs, so none of the characters are the types to really describe things in much detail, and the writing reflects that. 

I think Sinner was what I wanted it to be, and I enjoyed Cole and Isabel's story. I love Maggie Stiefvater's work, and I'm happy that she gave her two more interesting characters, Cole and Isabel, a chance at a resolution. As always, I'm eagerly awaiting her next book!



  1. Do you think this book would be interesting/enjoyable to those of us who haven't read the original SHIVER trilogy? Because we love Maggie's work (SCORPIO RACES and the RAVEN BOYS series).

    1. I think it would be. I have a very shitty memory and you really don't need to know too much about what happened in Shiver. It kind of stands on its own, although Shiver obviously could add some background, if you're into that. But you could also read this, love it, and then read more in Shiver, so it's a total win-win!


  2. It was amazing. I loved the small cameos of Sam and Grace but also the fact that you didn't necessarily need to read the Shiver series to understand it. It has so many quotable phrases, amazing.

    ted doll


What do you think?