Book Review: Shiver By Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver cover

By Maggie Stiefvater
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Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls #1
Release date: August 1st, 2009
Rating: Sam is a beautiful cinnamon roll.

Shiver is a werewolf story. Grace Brisbane has always watched the wolves near her home in Mercy Falls, Minnesotta after a surviving childhood attack.  But things are about to change when the wolf who saved her turn into a boy.

Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is incredibly lyrical.  There are parts that could almost be a song or poetry. I thought that the touch with temperature at the beginning of each chapter.  It was a small touch that made the pace of the book that much more urgent.

I love Sam.  He is so earnest and pure.  Tragic male character are never wasted on me.  I am so easy. I like how Stiefvater used physical transformation as a metaphor for identity.  The more Sam changes into a werewolf the less sure of who he was he becomes.

I always have a little difficulty with Stiefvater’s heroine’s.  Grace seems cold and there isa part of me that held back.  “I don’t think that we would be friends…” I read somewhere recently (was it twitter?) that it doesn’t matter if you don’t like a character.  The point is to understand them.  I think that that is why I still love this (and all her other books) even when I don’t like the heroines.  Through her writing you understand them.  I know how Grace thinks and why she acts the way that she does.  Grace is terrifyingly practical and very spare with her emotions. She has an inner stillness. Or maybe it seems that she is going at a different speed then the other characters.  Is that a form of control?  Grace comes across as very controlled and her thoughts and action read as overly controlled.  This all makes complete sense with the way that she was raised.

Grace’s parents are terrible.  Not a little terrible but all the way terrible.  How do they still have custody of her?  It isn’t benign neglect. This seems to part of a larger trend in YA.  Actually not really a trend because as long as there have been books written about non-adults there has been the “absent parent trope”. In a way this book lampshades that trope by making it clear how painful and damaging long term neglect can be. I still wanted to call Child Protective Services for her.

How to describe the relationship between Sam and Grace?  In some ways it was incredible instalovey.  They lock eyes when they are much younger and that is it.  If that is something that enrages you then this might not be the book for you.  I usually don’t enjoy that trope but was able to overlook it here.  On the other hand it was also very will they/won’t they.  I knew that they were going to get together but it seemed as if it took ages for it to happen.  Not in a bad way but in a holding your breath waiting for it to happen way.

Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favorite authors.  Shiver isn’t my favorite of her books but only because her Raven Boys Series (my review of The Dream Thieves) is so good that it defies reality so don’t let that stop you from reading this.

From Goodreads:
 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.