Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater Review: Angst in LA

August 20, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Reviews

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater Review: Angst in LASinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5
Published by Scholastic Inc. Australia on July 1, 2014
Source: Publisher, Purchased
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
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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?

Jeann’s Thoughts 

While I was reading about the washed up rockstar Cole St. Clair, and the beautiful ice queen Isabel, the storyline felt incredibly familiar. It felt like a NA book about two damaged characters filled with issues and angst. They want to be together, but throughout the book they’re going to make up reasons not to be. Cole, because he’s struggling with past demons and trying to get through a reality TV show, and Isabel, just because she’s unfeeling and dead inside.

These two characters took a while to warm up to, and while Cole ended up redeeming himself throughout the novel, Isabel did not. They were difficult to connect to throughout the novel, especially Isabel.

And here was what I was most afraid of: that Cole St. Clair would fall in love with me, and I’d fall in love with him, both of us human weapons, and we’d both end up with broken hearts.

She’s a completely damaged, bitchy character who puts a shield around herself and other people, and she would walk out on Cole or hurt him for no apparent reason other than her own insecurity. I hated her lousy attitude and ice queen persona, about how beautiful she was and how she would use others to better herself. At one point, she takes Cole and his producer Baby to a restaurant in Korea Town, only to lash out at him for getting kicked out, and not being able to go to her favourite restaurant again. Did she find out the reason why he did, or did it even occur to him how lousy he would have felt himself? No, because that’s just how Isabel operates.

Cole on the other hand, was a cliche damaged rockstar who has come clean and trying to come back into the music scene. He’s slept with countless women, taken countless substances, and lost some of his old band buddies. The only thing not Justin Bieber about it is that Cole’s escape is now turning into a wolf, where he risks losing control. His struggles felt real and authentic though, especially since everyone had preconceived thoughts about his character, but the only person to know who he really is was Isabel.

I thought about how quickly I could be a wolf. How completely it would empty my mind. Just for a few minutes. And unlike any of my other chemical selves, it left no marks and demanded nothing more from me. It wasn’t an addiction. 

My favourite thing about Sinner, was the rockstar view of LA, with it’s beautiful beaches, sprawling houses, parties in excess, famous people, music and drugs. LA is perhaps the only place in the world that has its unique persona, and Sinner covered it magnificently.

The writing was beautiful as Maggie Stiefvater does, but for the most part, it didn’t quite suit the contemporary NA feel about the book. It was too flowery for Cole and Isabel’s angst and (lack of) emotion, and I found myself bored and distracted while reading it. There’s only so much self hate you could read about before you start thinking their rich, excessive lives are just a front for their emptiness inside.


Sinner is about rockstars and music, filled with a lot of angst, self loathing and pure drama. It only contains a little bit of paranormal, in a rockstar LA setting. The NA feel of the book with the two damaged characters was a departure from the paranormal Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and I found it draggy and boring.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Thank you to Scholastic Australia for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 


Michelle’s Thoughts 

I felt like this book shouldn’t have been written for this series. Yes, the general bookish public has gone mad for The Wolves of Mercy Falls, but I still think that a 3.5 novel shouldn’t have been written. Cole’s and Isabel’s story ended well, and it’s okay if we didn’t figure out what happened to them later on. I always thought that they ended up together before this!

“I’d only become a werewolf because every other drug’s purported kicks had ceased to kick and I needed something that wouldn’t let me down. Because I’d hit the absolute bottom. Because I just wanted out and was a coward, always a coward.”

Cole and Isabel are your average YA paranormal couple. They have their problems, they’re both equally alike (ice king and queen?) and their relationship is at stake. Ta da.

This is basically just a slow-as-a-snail novel with flaws and icy characters, but pretty romance. From Maggie Stiefvater’s other novels, I expected this to be a slow paced book. All of the novels in this series have been the same, but became more awesome and faster in the middle. This was slow all throughout until the end. I literally felt like I wanted to DNF this book, but I felt bad (yes, I’m a guilty person) because I loved this series and Cole was one of my favourite characters. This was a thin-plotted book. Nothing much to read about here.

So basically, this is about Cole and Isabel, two bitched-up characters trying to find themselves and their love for each other after they were separated. Cole has dealt with a lot of drugs in his recent past which let him out of his superstar life for a while and into “rehab.” Isabel is living a quiet life in Santa Monica with her party friends and family, but things between her parents aren’t looking so good and that’s depressing her. When Cole arrives in LA after his mysterious disappearance, the first person he wants to see is Isabel, his lover from his werewolf days. These two icy characters will bring on a story that’s all about their love and a superstar life.

“When I was a wolf, the space felt smaller. My senses felt fragmented. I kept remembering a young man with a jittering pulse and I saw the world out of his eyes, higher, and then I forgot him.”

Cole was a very deep character who had a troubled past behind him, as you can tell from the past novels. His life went straight to hell and he came back to his old life looking for something new. Isabel was someone who truly changed him, and he wants to find her and be with her. I totally understand that. It’s no question when you think about what love can do to you. Sure, Cole was bitchy at times, but he was a far better character than Isabel was. He, at least, had some sense of direction and knew what to do in the darkest times.

Isabel was a sociopath. I loved her for that, though. With a girl like her, you’d expect a party girl who goes beyond the boundaries, always. She was a total icy bitch who wanted to play hard-to-get when she sucks at it, but I’d say she wasn’t the worst protagonist I’d read about in a paranormal romance.

From Cole’s POV, this is a novel looking at the troubles of being in the rockstar world and dealing with drugs, alcoholism, and all of those crazy things that can happen in LA. Isabel’s POV was very deep, and depressing, because she was a depressed character. Angst in LA? Yes.

The thing I loved about this book was the romance. It was believable, and gorgeous at the same time. We’re looking at something real here, and if you loved Colsbel in the trilogy, then here their love is stronger than ever because the whole book focuses on them.

Overall, there was a lack of emotion here and I felt that this was a pointless novel. It did have its beauty but the characters were full of angst and were strange and unrelatable. If you loved the previous novels in the series and love Isabel and Cole, then you should read this, but beware. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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43 responses to “Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater Review: Angst in LA

  1. Yes, it's been a while since everything ended! But I really think that anyone could begin with this book, even if they haven't read the previous novels. There's no spoilers here! Ohh… So it decreased. For me, every book was slow in the beginning, and then turned action-packed by the end! I loved this series, but this book was the biggest disappointment of the year. Thank you, Stephanie!
    Michelle @ Happy Ind recently posted…Rain by Amanda Sun Review: Kami Gods descend on TokyoMy Profile

  2. Aww so sorry neither of you enjoyed this one as much as I did! I loved it, mostly because I've been dying for more Cole & Isabel! Plus, I love this series & most of Maggie Stiefvater's books. She could probably write a phone book or dictionary & I'd find it entertaining! I think Maggie's books usually get mixed reviews — people either love them or hate them. Still enjoyed reading your reviews — differences of opinions make the world go round!! Happy reading!!

    Tricia recently posted…Are You A Series Reader?My Profile

    • Aw, it's fine, Tricia! What a disappointment, though. I loved Isabel & Cole as a whole, but as separate characters, nuh-uh. LOL—that goes with me and Stephanie Perkins. 😀 Yeah, there's always the squad of people who love it (more than the haters, haha). For her books, I can always expect the good or the bad. The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys were both downers for me, but the Wolves of Mercy Falls series has always stuck with me beautifully until this book. Yes, of course! Thank you!
      Michelle @ Happy Ind recently posted…Rain by Amanda Sun Review: Kami Gods descend on TokyoMy Profile

  3. To be completely honest, my thoughts would probably be similar to both of yours too! I just don't personally click with Maggie's writing style, and add in some cliche characters to that, and you have a no-go from me. Thanks for the honest reviews though Michelle and Jeann! <3
    Zoe @ The Infinite T recently posted…The Body in the WoodsMy Profile

  4. I read The Wolves of Mercy Falls series but it was quite a while ago so I don't really remember the story well. Looking back on my ratings for this book it goes from a 5 star book for the first to a 4 star for Linger and a 3 star for the last book. I do remember being really disappointed with the end of Forever. I think I'll skip this one since I don't even remember Cole that well and don't really like the series enough to pick it up. Plus I can't stand bratty characters 😛

    Great reviews both of you =)
    Stephanie@ThesePaper recently posted…Review: OppositionMy Profile

  5. Loved the reviews girls <3 It's funny how you both really didn't enjoy this one equally. Twinsies.

    I only really enjoyed the romance of this one too, but apart from the few wolfy parts, where was the paranormal? It was totally lost within the storyline, where the original series was ALL. ABOUT. THE. WOLF.

    I thought it might have been one of those toe dipper books, you know, where the author tries her hand at something else, like a contemporary or NA romance and is testing the waters to see how well it's received.
    Kelly recently posted…The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel by Neil GaimanMy Profile

    • I love how you described the toe dipper book thing, that is so true. And plus it was a relatively safe place, because you already had fans of the original series. I kind of loved the wolfy parts.

  6. I guess I'm the remaining few who hasn't read any work of Stiefvater. 😛

    This didn't sound like a story I'd enjoy but I'll keep in mind that the first three books are better. Thanks for giving us your honest thoughts, ladies! I guess we bloggers know how difficult it could be to plow through a book when we found it pointless.
    Henrietta recently posted…Opposition – Jennifer L. ArmentroutMy Profile

  7. I've been really hearing amazing things about this book. Not terrible, but also not that good. I think the author probably should have just let it where it was. I've only ever read Shiver and haven't really found time to read the rest of the trilogy. Isabel doesn't sound that great. I don't care for the bitchy characters, I find them to be annoying. Great reviews!
    Janina @ Synchronize recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday (33): The Inquisitor’s MarkMy Profile

    • I found that there's mixed reviews for this one. A lot of people have thought this to be amazing, but there are the few like us who didn't enjoy this. Hallelujah! Someone finally agrees with me! This shouldn't have been written. ._. I had a rough start with the trilogy but it ended up being amazing and left us off at a good ending that kept us wondering what happened later. This is somewhat the answer, and I felt like it wasn't right to know. Isabel was always awesome, but her ice-queen status really came out here for no reason. Thank you, Janina!

  8. Oh well…clichéd damaged characters or bitchy ones are not for me….

    I know how it feels to read a book with sucky characters but good writing–HEXED! Read it two-three days ago and I was so glad when I finished it! Bon débarras!

    Awesome reviews! 😀
    Lola @ Hit or Miss B recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#1)My Profile

    • Haha, same here! Bitchy and damaged characters are my #1 pet peeve when reading books. -.-

      Oh, no! Hexed is on my ASAP TBR list, but I haven't picked it up yet. I'll have to read it on a day when I'm already in a bad mood so it won't get worse! xD LOL! Thank you, Lola-dear!

  9. Ahhh noooo! I've read this a few days after I came back from my long hiatus and my rating for is 5 stars. Hahahaha. I don't know but The Wolves of Mercy Falls was just an okay series for me. It was decent but it was not something that I would gush over and over again. And one of the few reasons that I held unto it is because I am a big shipper of Cole and Isabel. And IMO, they're the ones who made the TWOMF interesting for me.

    Also, one of the main reasons that made me love this book so much is the angst. I know! But I really like angsty books. And the fact that two main characters are two jerk asses made me happier. I am sorry guys but I suffered from a book hangover after reading this one. Definitely the best book in the series.

    Okay, sorry for gushing so much. I hope your next read will be better. <333 Lovely review, ladies.

    • LOL! I'm not surprised to see that another person has adored it, Charlotte, but I'm so glad that you did! 😀 It was one of my favourite series, but if someone asked me my favourite book, I wouldn't remember to say it because it wasn't the best best. I did love them as a couple as well in TWOMF! But Grace and Sam were my #1. xD

      Ahh, you love angsty books! That explains it, haha. I hate them, so this really got on my nerves. OMG, you're awesome for loving bad characters. I wish that they wouldn't get on my nerves so much!

      I'm seriously really happy that you adored this one, Char! Gushing is fine, it makes me feel bad that I didn't enjoy this one as much as you did! Thanks a million!

  10. Yes, Ashtyn! When I saw the cover for this book, I freaked. I have the other books with the other covers (the original ones) and this one is 10 times more prettier with the real-people effect. Anywho, you're right! If you didn't like the other books in the series and didn't finish it, then this one's not worth it. If I knew that this sucked, I would've stayed away from it, too! And really, Isabel had no reason to be insecure about anything. I think that the whole rockstar role Cole had going on made her freak out and the fact that he's still a werewolf at the same time. But he loved her, and she loved him secretly, so that was okay. I did end up loving the romance by the end, because I found that Isabel began opening up from her ice-queen status. Thank you!

    • Sure, give this a try, Lexxie! If you loved the rest of the books and the characters of Cole and Isabel, then there's a chance that you will learn to love this book as well! It's alright, though. 😀 Thank you!

  11. Damn! These might be the first low ratings I've seen for this book, but I'm grateful for you guys' input because now I know what to expect.

    There's a lot of things that would bug me in this one judging from your reviews, but I think I would despise Isabel's character. She sounds pretty awful and I have a hard time with bitchy characters.

    I also don't like that Cole is just a typical cliched rockstar. I wish we could get a book about a rockstar who isn't a man-whore!

    Great reviews, ladies!
    Nick @ Nick's B recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (83) : The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler & The Start of Me and You by Emery LordMy Profile

    • LOL, Nick! Yeah! Almost everyone hates Isabel, from the reviews that I've read–but she really pissed me off. -_- I couldn't stand reading her POV because of her bitchiness, and there was no reason for it! Sure, she had problems in the past books, but there was nothing to be insecure about here! Now that you brought it up, I realize that Cole is a total man-whore. xD Bitch and man-whore? They're perfect for each other. *heart-eyes* Thanks! 😀

  12. I am sorry you did not like this. I on the other hand loved it! I am happy that we got a chance to revisit the world she created all those years ago and I'm even happier that there is some sort of closure in terms of Cole and Isabel's story.
    Braine recently posted…DNF: Zomburbia by Adam J. GallardoMy Profile

    • It's okay! I actually didn't expect to love this. Something about the rockstar lifestyle going on just feared me, and that was a big problem here, haha. It was good that she let the readers who adored the previous books (like me) revisit the world once again! I wish we did get to see more of Grace and Sam, though. I adored that beautiful couple! We didn't really get to find out more about them before, hmm?

  13. It's actually so interesting to see the different perspectives on this book! I've seem so many rave reviews for this one. It really sucks that you guys didn't enjoy it too much! I can definitely understand why you wouldn't like another one of those cliche NA books though. But I live for those books! So I'm still thinking that I'll end up loving this book. Lovely reviews guys!

    • LOL yeah, most of them are fangirling reviews! xD But not every book is for everyone, right? Cliche's your type? Then definitely go for this one, Laura! With a little more sexiness, I can totally see this becoming a top-selling NA! Thank you!

  14. Oh, wow, this really didn't work for you guys!

    I lvoed this book and actually enjoyed the change of pace form the other Wolves of Mercy Falls books . . . it was more dreamy and 'writerly' and I appreciated that.

    YES ABOTU ISABEL THOUGH. That girl -_- what is her problem? She's a complete psychopath who fails to see the good in anything or anyone. It was so tiring to read about *sigh*

    • Yeah… *chuckles* I think we're two of the only people who thought negatively of this book. But, oh well, haha! The writing was majestic and all, but YES, Allie! Isabel got on my nerves. LOL remember when she took that internet quiz to see if she was a sociopath? xD She totally scored a "yes" on that factor. 😀 She took things waayy too seriously. ._.

  15. Well, I would not have picked this to be about damaged rockstars and an NA-themed romance from the cover (even though it does have a paranormal element). I have seen this book around on the interwebs, and I do want to eventually read something by Maggie Stiefvater, though from the sounds of things I might just read the Sinner series and see how I go. I always find it useful to find different perspectives on books which I may plan to read in the future, and at least now I potentially know what I would be getting into. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂
    Eugenia @ Chasm of B recently posted…The Chasm’s Summer Bash RecapMy Profile

    • Maggie Stiefvater really focused on Cole's rockstar life in this book. I really thought that she'd end up forgetting about it and the characters would just move on. A lot of this book was all about his rebel rockstar life and the characters involved (perhaps the new ones as well). I do think that you should pick up the earlier books in this series, because they really were amazing! You're welcome, Eugenia, and thanks for visiting!

  16. I think this is one I'll have to stay away from. I never finished the Shiver series because I wasn't connecting with the main characters but I really liked Cole and Isabel in those books. However, I'm really not a fan of these stereotypical characters. Especially how it sounds like Isabel is. It drives me crazy when characters won't be in a relationship because they're insecure about it, even when the other person has done nothing to earn that distrust. I do really like the cover for this one though 🙂

    Nice review!

    Ashtyn @ Wonderland’s Reader!

    • Yes, Ashtyn! When I saw the cover for this book, I freaked. I have the other books with the other covers (the original ones) and this one is 10 times more prettier with the real-people effect. Anywho, you’re right! If you didn’t like the other books in the series and didn’t finish it, then this one’s not worth it. If I knew that this sucked, I would’ve stayed away from it, too! And really, Isabel had no reason to be insecure about anything. I think that the whole rockstar role Cole had going on made her freak out and the fact that he’s still a werewolf at the same time. But he loved her, and she loved him secretly, so that was okay. I did end up loving the romance by the end, because I found that Isabel began opening up from her ice-queen status. Thank you!
      Michelle @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater Review: Angst in LAMy Profile

  17. Ehhhhh. I haven't read the Shiver series and I'm not sure I'm going to bother. It doesn't sound like my thing at all. Haha I know how much Cait loves them, though 🙂 I kind of feel like if I don't read them, there's still the POSSIBILITY I might like them, whereas if I read them and hate them, that possibility is gone. Plus angst annoys me.
    Emily @ The Loony Te recently posted…Bookshelf Tour! (lots of pretty books)My Profile

    • LOL, it sounds like this is one of Cait's favourite series, and I do have to agree with her… with the other books. The other three books don't have any angst in them (at least from what I see) so maybe you'll be better off reading them–if you feel in the mood for a paranormal-werewolf romance story with a lot of drama in between, Emily!