Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
ISBN-10: 0545123267 (Scholastic)
ISBN-13: 978-0545123266 (Scholastic)
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human … until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
Quick & Dirty: This is a well-written, heartbreaking, and imaginative novel.
Opening Sentence: I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.
Excerpt: Chapter 1
When Grace was a little girl, she was attacked by a pack of wolves. Sam, a yellow eyed wolf came to her rescue. Sam wasn’t always a wolf. He was also attacked. Although Grace was bitten, she never changed. Grace has an undeniable connection with her yellow eyed wolf. In the subsequent years since her attack, she grows more obsessed and attached to her wolf, Sam. Grace comes home one night to find a boy naked and bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound. Grace will do anything to keep Sam human because she needs him. A future without him is simply devastating. Sam battles to stay warm so that he can remain human. Once the winter arrives, he will turn into his wolf form.
For the most part, the world-building is good, and the characterization is solid. Grace and Sam have good chemistry, and I found it easy to get swept up in their emotions. They were a bit cheesy and overly consumed with one another, but given their situation it’s understandable. Being a wolf isn’t exactly easy. It’s a complex world of rules, secrets, and lies. Sam wants to hold onto his humanity and build a relationship with Grace. Grace is devoted to Sam and can’t imagine her life without him. In many ways they only have each other and for them this translates into a doomed love. I have some misgivings about the depth of their relationship being so automatic and believable, but ultimately I liked these flawed characters.
I do have a few issues with the book. First, I think the pacing was a bit slow at times. Second, certain aspects of the werewolf mythology don’t stand up to scrutiny. While I was initially taken with the rules that Ms. Stiefvater detailed, I ultimately had a hard time maintaining my suspension of disbelief. The main tenant of the werewolf mythology is that the wolf changing patterns are governed by the temperature/seasons, as opposed to the phases of the moon. Naturally, this raises some questions. Why doesn’t the pack just move to a location with a warmer climate? Ms. Stiefvater offers an explanation, but it rings false as evidenced by other events that transpire. I also think the “cure” for lack of a better word is lame. There are other aspects of the werewolf mythology that I like. Telling too much will spoil the experience of discovering this world, so I won’t go into too much detail.
Third, I absolutely despise Grace’s parents. I know that neglectful, abusive, and/or dead parents is a common trope in YA novels, but for some reason it really bothered me in this book. The reason that Grace doesn’t have enough structure and rules in her life is because her parents are completely self absorbed, and woefully absent from her life. Grace is desperate for their affection and attention. Her parents never seem to display any genuine concern for her or the things that are going on in her life. I think it’s appalling that Grace is able to have a boy essentially living with her in her parents’ house, sleeping in her bed with her night after night, and her parents are completely oblivious to this. Grace would go days without seeing or having any interaction with her parents. I guess I found these parents to be too unrealistic. What parents don’t go into their child’s bedroom? Ever?
Overall, Ms. Stiefvater has penned a good novel. The prose is beautiful and I loved how the alternating POVs were detailed. Shiver is a beautifully constructed story, written in such vivid detail. The plot has interesting twists that will illicit just about every emotion from the reader. This book is sure to entertain readers.
A riot of sensations assaulted me as soon as I got into the living room. Viciously cold air stung my eyes and twisted my stomach. My eyes quickly found the ragged hole in the door to the back deck; partially cracked glass hung precariously in the frame and thin, pink-stained shards lay all over the floor, winking light back up at me.
The chair at the breakfast table nook was knocked over. It looked like someone had splattered red paint on the floor, endless erratic shapes dropped and smeared from the door to the kitchen. For a moment I stood there, frozen by the absence of Grace and the frigid air and the stench of blood and wet fur.
FTC Advisory: Big Honcho Media provided me with a copy of Shiver. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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