Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review: Shiver

Title: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Young Adult
Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy/Book 1
Published: August 2009

From the author's website ~

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.

Maggie Stiefvater puts a different spin on the werewolf - wolf during cold months, human during warmer month. Interesting... I have to say I was pulled into the story pretty quick but I did have a few problems with it. And since I haven't read that many Young Adult novels or at least current YA novels I wonder if it's common to make the teens seem at times more mature than the adults.

The story is told in both Grace and Sam's POV. Each chapter is titled with either Grace or Sam's name. I liked the way the POVs shifted by chapter. I think the story would not have had the same effect if it had only been told in Grace or Sam's POV. Also includes in each chapter title was the current temperature is which I thought added an element of suspense. The temperature plays a major role in the story. It works as a time clock, counting down the amount of time Sam and Grace have together. It became something to dread with no way of holding it back. Knowing that Sam was destined to change back to a wolf definitely added tension to the story. This was far from your typical teenager problems of girl dating guy parents wouldn't approve of.

Grace and Sam first meet not as Grace and Sam but as Grace and her wolf. When Grace was 11 years old she was taken from her backyard and dragged into the woods by wolves. This is the first time she sees Sam. In the years following Maggie watches for "her wolf" from her backyard which borders the woods where the local wolf pack lives. I loved the way Grace thought of Sam as "her wolf." She makes a connection with him when she's still a child and that connection carries over into her teen years. They do become romantically involved. Grace probably thought she was in love with Sam all along and Sam was always out there, looking out for Grace. I don't think they really fell in love until they got to know each other once Sam became human and they met.

The first time Sam sees Grace in public when he's human. ~

The day I nearly talked to Grace was the hottest day of my life. Even in the bookstore, which was air-conditioned, the heat crept in around the door and came in through the big picture windows in waves. Behind the counter, I slouched on my stool in the sun and sucked in the summer as if I could hold every drop of it inside of me. As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.

First, I just love the imagery here. You can feel Sam's love for the summer heat. The need to not miss one moment of that heat and what that warmth represents to him. He says how it was the hottest day of his life meaning this is when he is the most human. The way Sam reacts to being near Grace is so much like a teenage boy, not sure what to do, hoping he won't have to talk to her, hoping he will. :) It was a wonderful scene that told a lot about these two characters. And it's it the best that it happens in a bookstore?!

In the fall a boy from Grace's school is attacked by wolves and dies. This causes fear in the population and some people take it upon themselves to hunt down the wolves. Grace is worried about her wolf and can't stop thinking about him. Wondering if he is safe.

When Grace finds Sam on the deck of her home bordering the woods, she recognizes his eyes. His eyes are a very distinct shade of yellow and Grace knows he's her wolf which is impossible since he's a teenage boy. But still, she just knows it. The woods become a symbol of what separates the human population from the wolves. They represent sanctuary to the wolves. Many times Grace or Sam are looking towards the woods, lost in their thoughts or looking for answers. Sam is looking for his pack mates. He's also sets out looking for his mentor, Beck.

Grace and Sam spend a bunch of time together and really get to know each other. Grace still has to go to school but they spend their free time together with Sam even sleeping in Grace's room. There is definitely a physical attraction, they are teenagers! LOL And their bond that was made six years earlier only strengthens with time. I liked their romance and watching how their relationship developed from a girl more or less obsessed with a wolf to a young woman falling for a young man. They made a unique but believable couple by the end. I could totally see how they fell for each other. It was quick but they had that time clock ticking away and that was always foremost in their minds. How much longer will Sam have as a human? Yeah, I can see how they're not going to go slow with the whole dating thing.

Grace's parents inadvertently helped Grace and Sam be together because they (the parents) were so absorbed in their own lives and so accustomed to Grace more or less raising herself. There were times when I could only shake my head and wonder ~ are these parents clueless? Do they not realize that their daughter has a boy staying in her room? Overnight? And it's not like they had other kids to take care of, Grace is an only child. Yeah, the parents bugged me. And Sam's parents weren't any better. No spoilers, but I will say that they didn't deserve him and I'm glad Beck took responsibility for Sam and took him in.

The secondary characters other than the parents were mainly Grace's friends and Sam's pack mates. Okay, Grace's friends were teenagers and for the most part acted like teenagers except towards the end when I couldn't help but think that one in particular was acting very adult and it just felt a bit off. But I went with the "fix" to the problem and got past that bit of WTH. The pack macks I found very interesting. They were such a mix of characters with human and animal traits and not just when they were in their human or wolf forms. These werewolves, when they are in their wolf form, are essentially wolves, not humans in a wolf's body. They think like wolves and act like wolves. When they are human they act like humans but with some wolf like mannerisms. It gave them that extra "umph" that kept me curious as to what they would do next.

I could say more but I think I've gone on long enough. Even with the few bumps in the road I found myself not only liking Grace and Sam but involved in their story. I wanted them to get a HEA. I also felt this need to know what happens. I just knew they had to be together somehow and I needed to know what that somehow was.

The second book in the trilogy, Linger, is due out fall 2010. Also, Ms. Stiefvater announced the movie rights to Shiver have been bought. I will definitely be reading Linger. I have to find out what happens next to Grace and Sam. They certainly left an impression on this reader.

Rating: B+


  1. I've only seen good comments for this book. I guess I'll be picking it up very soon :D

    Does that mean Sam cannot move to California? (Just wondering...)

  2. I just read this this past weekend! I liked it OK and didn't like a lot of it at the same time. I feel like the book needed a little more oomph.

  3. nath ~ some of the wolves have tried living in warmer climates to stay human but they just acclimate to the subtle changes in temp. & still change to wolf.

    KMont ~ overall I liked it but there were a few parts that just felt off. Can't wait to read your take on it.

  4. Okay, this is a trilogy. Is this book a standalone within the trilogy? Does it have an HEA, or does the story continue in Linger? Just curious.

    This book looks really interesting, Leslie.

  5. Hils ~ I wouldn't say Shiver has a HEA, it's more a potential for HEA. I hope Grace and Sam get their HEA by the end of the trilogy - that's my guess on how it will play out. The 2nd book comes out next year.

  6. Ahhh, okay the trilogy is about the same two characters. Thank you, Leslie. :)