All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater

on October 23, 2010

I seem to have jumped into a few books lately that I’ve been hearing a lot about for quite a long while but so far, hadn’t gotten around to reading. Shiver was one of those novels. I’ve seen lots of very good reviews for both it and the sequel, Linger and although I’d been vaguely interested, werewolves aren’t usually my thing. I ended up picking it up though on a trip to the library, thinking that I could give it a go and always buy it later if I really enjoyed it.

Grace, 17, lives in Mercy Falls, Minnesota. When she was younger she was dragged from the swing in her backyard by wolves and attacked. She remembers lying there, in the snow, being bitten, wolves pulling at her clothing until one wolf in particular, with curious yellow eyes, stops the attack. From then on, Grace has watched the wolves. Always looking for the one with the yellow eyes. When a student at her school is killed by the wolves, some of the township order a hunting party to go into the forest and shoot them. Grace knows that she cannot let this happen, especially not to her wolf…the one with the mesmerizing yellow eyes. She finds a way to stop the hunters but not before something happens that lets Grace in on a well-kept secret.

Sam is an 18yo boy with amazingly beautiful, amazingly familiar yellow-gold eyes. He is naked, on her deck in the cold, shivering. Grace wonders how he can have her wolf’s eyes but part of her already knows, has already figured it out and the bullet wound he has confirms it. In the coldness of the Minnesota winter, Sam -and several others- are wolves. When the temperatures warm and thaw for the spring, they become human again. Grace and Sam immediately fall into a love affair that’s as necessary to them both as breathing as they try to muddle through what to do about the hunt for the wolves and the predicament that has befallen Jack, the boy from school who was attacked. The wolf pack are facing their own problems, with the ‘human pack leader’ who is like a father to Sam, facing his last year of being able to switch back and forth, a small white she-wolf who resents Grace and Sam’s relationship and the fact that the unstable Jack could expose them all and the danger he poses to Grace. They are also investigating why Grace, who was bitten all those years ago by the wolves, never became like them.

There’s a lot to like about this novel – I enjoyed the rather different take on the werewolves and their changing. Grace and Sam’s relationship is beautiful in its simplicity and its genuineness. What has been a mutual fascination with each other for years, Grace in her room, or on her deck, or in her backyard staring at the wolves, Sam in wolf form, staring mournfully back with those lovely yellow eyes can now manifest into a true devotion. I loved their dynamic, their simple need to just be together in each others company. They’ve had a lot of time to make up for and they are determined to get to know each other as quickly as they can. I also enjoyed the secondary characters – Beck from the wolf pack who was mentor and almost father-figure to Sam but has his own secrets and hidden depths, and Isabel, Jack’s younger sister. The vapid rich girl is on a quest for the truth and befriends Grace, sure that she has the answer. I’ve seen that Isabel is a bigger part of Linger and I am definitely looking forward to learning more about her.

I also quite like the short chapters and the narrative jumping between Grace and Sam consistently. I felt this was actually quite well done and I never had trouble distinguishing who was currently telling their part of the story. It was a technique I enjoyed in another novel, Kylie Ladd’s After the Fall and I think it works equally nicely here. I understand it continues in Linger with several additions, including Isabel so I’m interested to see if that will affect the smoothness of the transitions and the flow of the story.

{This section does contain some ***spoilers***}

I found few negatives with this book but I have to mention the Absent Parent Syndrome which is rampant in YA fiction and allows Grace and Sam’s relationship to develop at the pace it does. Sam basically lives in Grace’s room for…I don’t know how long. Weeks? And her parents have absolutely no idea he’s even there and half the time probably aren’t sure whether or not Grace is there either. I know with the nature of the changing between human and wolf in the story coupled with the ‘shelf-life’ of changing back and forth that something was needed to hasten Grace and Sam beyond the normal time frame of a teenage relationship, but couldn’t it have been something else? The Absent Parent Syndrome is very overdone and exists in so many YA novels that every time I come across it now, I can only roll my eyes. In this case, Grace’s parents bordered on ridiculous. Surely no one is that careless and can still function as a human being in society. Her parents don’t get fed unless she cooks? What did they do before Grace was old enough to cook meals? The whole ‘useless parents, responsible child’ thing is a tad overdone I think. And her father and the incident that happened when she as younger, where she was locked in a hot car? There are laws about that sort of thing here and I thought that it was winter when she was bitten? So why didn’t she begin to change immediately like Jack did after he was bitten? And why is the car incident used as an excuse for that?

I hope some of these issues are addressed in Linger, which I have ordered, as despite my small nitpicks here, I did really like this book and I’m looking forward to the continuation of the story.


Book #80 of my 100 Book Challenge

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