Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: 8/09
First things first, unlike a lot of my other reviews, this one contains mild spoilers because I figure most everyone else has read it. If you haven't read it, proceed with caution!
I am woefully behind on reading and reviewing this book. This is one of those books that I hadn't heard of until I started following YA book blogs late last year. Then I heard varying things about it. A lot of people LOVED it. A fair amount seemed to HATE it too. So, because of that, and because of my overwhelming ambivalence towards most werewolves (with the notable exception of Gail Carriger's Lord Maccon of course) this book went on my back burner. Then I started reading Maggie's blog, and following her on Twitter. She's funny, helpful, and approachable, so I figured I'd add the book to my list at the library. The same library she's appearing at today, but unless my husband arrives home in the next forty or so odd minutes, it looks like I won't be attending. Oh well. Hopefully she'll do another appearance in the area soon. Besides, I'm pretty awful at talking to people whose work I admire.
Getting to the point, I really enjoyed Shiver. I'd heard that this story was like Twilight except with werewolves (um, doesn't Twilight have werewolves?) and I didn't find that to be the case. Granted, I read Twilight about two and a half years ago, so perhaps my memory is foggy. There is an intense love story, but where in Twilight I had to find myself wondering WTH an interesting fellow like Edward found so appealing in ever so emo Bella (no offense to the Twilight fans), this was not the case with Grace & Sam.
Grace was bitten by wolves when she was younger and Sam, "her wolf" kept her from death. Over the course of the next few years, she keeps a watchful eye on the wolves that occupy the woods behind her house, until one night she discovers that her wolf is not only a wolf, but a werewolf. Their love is instant, and unlike Twilight, it made sense to me, and it rang true. What didn't make sense to me was Grace's absent parents. I get it, it's easy in YA to write horrible, or in this case, horribly inept parents. My parents gave me a fair amount of space in my teenage years, but I still think they would have noticed that a boy was living in my bedroom. That was one major plot element that I really couldn't recover from, and it bugged the heck out of me the entire time I read the book. I do think that there are parents like this in real life, but for me, it would have been more believable if she was being raised by a single parent, but I don't know. You'd think of of them would have at least a lick of sense. Apparently in the sequel, Linger, her parents pull their heads out of their butts, but we'll see.
I enjoyed the interesting take on werewolf folklore: that they change not according to the phases of the moon but according to the temperature, and that Sam only has so many years before he'll turn into a wolf for good. This lends itself to a certain tragic romantic element which I can't help it, I'm a sucker for.
I felt there was a certain lack of character development in some of the lesser characters, but not with Grace and Sam. I'd read one review where the reviewer had said that all Grace did was cook food and watch for her wolf. I found that to ring a bit false. While I tend to prefer a stronger female protagonist, Grace isn't a damsel in distress.
I thought Shiver was beautifully written, and I can't wait to return to Mercy Falls in July when Linger hits shelves.