Shiver: Maggie Stiefvater
By Amanda Lynch, The Children’s Book Review
Published: November 23, 2009
Reading Level: Teens
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (August 1, 2009)
What to Expect: Werewolves, Romance, Poetry
I’d been looking forward to reading Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver for awhile–it came highly recommended, so when I sat down to read it I carved out an afternoon and figured I would finish it the following day.
Afternoon quickly became evening, and I was up until the wee hours of the morning because I absolutely HAD to know what happened.
The story starts with a wolf attack. Grace is attacked by the wolves that live behind her house, and then suddenly, one of them stops the attack and effectively saves her life. However, instead of becoming afraid of the wolves, she develops a mild obsession with them—particularly the yellow-eyed one that saved her from the rest of the wolf pack. They go away every summer and reappear in the winter, and Grace anxiously awaits the return of the cold weather that brings her wolf back to her.
“And so it was an unbroken pattern for six years: the wolves’ haunting presence in the winter and their even more haunting absence in the summer. I didn’t really think about the timing. I thought they were wolves. Only wolves.”
But they aren’t only wolves. They’re werewolves. As it turns out, Sam, the wolf who saved her, becomes human every spring and he silently pines for Grace—until this year, when fate brings them together. Grace realizes that Sam is the wolf—her wolf—that saved her all those years ago, and the two of them begin a relationship, making up for the years they have spent apart as a result of his condition. Unfortunately, as the weather gets colder, Sam’s chances of returning back to his wolf-state rise—and he begins to realize that this may be the final year that he becomes a human.
I loved this book, which surprised me because I’m not really a huge fan of the vampire/werewolf/fantasy mania that has reached such heights with the popularity of the Twilight series. But Maggie Stiefvater is an incredible writer, and her daring dual narration in which we switch back between the minds of Grace and Sam is utterly seamless. Sam’s anguish over his inability to control whether or not he turns back into a wolf is quite possibly where Stiefvater is at her best: his struggle to stay human out of his love for Grace is touching and poignant. The love story between them is also convincing and extremely sweet, and manages to not have the forced quality that happens a great deal in many teen romance stories. A word of caution: it’s definitely a PG-13 sort of love story, so do be aware there is a sexual component, even though it takes place “offscreen”.
Overall, Shiver is a very well-written, engaging, and filled with tension—will Grace find a way to keep Sam with her? Or is he to be a wolf forever? I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys fantasy, werewolves—or even just a good love story.
Add this book to your collection: Shiver
Source of book: Publisher