Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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.

The positive of Shiver is the prose. It is delicate and fragile, like ice crystals and the wind through leaves. It is haunting and desperate, like the best parts of Romeo and Juliet. Maggie Stiefvater writes beautifully. I found myself drowning in the loveliness of the prose - to the point where I was *almost* able to ignore the flaws of the novel. If Stiefvater had managed to take the plot to the same places as the prose - stratospherically good - then this would have been an AMAZING book.

As it is, I think the best words to describe Shiver are ephemeral and fleeting - much like the summers that the wolves experience as humans before turning back to animals. As I read it, I was drawn into this story, but I can't imagine that it will stay with me beyond a few days.

Even while reading and luxuriating in the stunning writing, I found myself frustrated by Grace's character. She loves Sam just because. Why does she love him? Why is she so obsessed? Why is she willing to overlook the fact he is a wolf half the time?

I also found the background around the story very limited. Why are there werewolves anyway? Why have they settled in Mercy Falls? Why does Beck need more werewolves? Why did he decide that Sam should be a werewolf?

Why doesn't Olivia - who is such friends with Grace, apparently - come to her friend about the issues she's having? Why is the ending so very artificial?

Ack, just writing all of these questions makes me become more frustrated. Shiver should have been a superb novel. A brilliant book. A book that you are dying to share amongst all your friends. As it was, I enjoyed it and will want to read Linger and Forever, but it wasn't the classic that it deserves to be.


  1. I think she was holding off so that those questions would be answered in later books, but do I think she should have given more hints in the first one.

    I did love the prose as well and I thought the romance was sweet. I didn't think Grace's love was too unrealistic. Maybe it's a little rushed, but most romances in these sorts of books are. They have a bit of background with him saving her life earlier on, and he is a nice guy and good to her. He is also wild and free when he's out in the woods as a wolf, which contrasts to Grace's life with her absent parents and homework, and maybe that draws her to him as well.

    Nah, they didn't stay with me, but they are engrossing reads and I really enjoyed them.

  2. Those answers are given in the following books :)

    The prose is lovely I agree, there is something in the way she writes - like it's more important what isn't said / done, rather than what is.

  3. Based on your comments (thank you both!) I'm very glad that I already have Linger on my Kindle :-) There is something very special about Maggie's writing!

  4. Staticsplt said: I think she was holding off so that those questions would be answered in later books, but do I think she should have given more hints in the first one.

    I don't like it when authors deliberately leave something essential out of the first novel just so they can carry it on through to the next one. I'm not talking the over-arching elements, I mean the essentials - like motives.

    Good review, though!