Shiver

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Shiver by Maggie StiefvaterWhat a beautiful looking cover, it’s black, with leafy vines crawling around the sides, some dotted with red and the title in sketchy “shivery” writing in the middle. Although I (somewhat neurotically!) have my books stacked in the order in which I received or bought them and then that dictates what order I read them, my eye kept wandering to this book and eventually I decided that this one was far too tempting to let sit there gathering dust!

Shiver” tells the story of a sixteen year old girl called Grace who falls in love with a wolf. I’ve read a review that calls this book “Twilight , the Jacob version” and I have to agree that this is an extremely accurate way of summing up this book. Like Twilight, it falls into the teen romance category but this is not something I realised when I got this book as the cover seems much more sophisticated and almost has a horror/thriller feel to it.

So upon reading the book, I was slightly taken aback to be reading another version of the popular vampire/werewolf genre that seems to have plagued 2009 and will certainly continue into 2010. Having said that, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the Twilight series as well as starting to read author Kelley Armstrong’s “Otherworld” series about werewolves. Not all of my reading into this genre has been successful, I attempted to read “Midnights Daughter” by Karen Chance and was thoroughly bored, confused and finally disappointed and gave up after 4 chapters! As you can imagine, once I realised what sort of content to expect in this book, I read on with some trepidation.

Characters

Two main characters worth mentioning in this story, Grace and Sam. The story is told from alternate points of view from these characters and we start with Grace’s apparent obsession with wolves. This may sound bizarre, but due to an incident when she was young, Grace has always looked for the wolves at wintertime, and especially the one wolf that saved her from being mauled by the rest. Equally, this wolf always finds Grace during winter, and the two form an unique bond. It soon becomes clear that the wolf with the yellow eyes is also the boy called Sam with the yellow eyes and before long, Grace meets her wolf in human form when his life is in danger.

Try as I might, it is impossible not to compare Grace to Bella from Twilight. I’d love not to, but anyone who is tempted to read this is likely to have read the Twilight series and would probably want to know how it lives up to the most famous of series. Well, Grace has some very similar qualities to Bella but I am relieved to sa.y, not half as annoying. (NOTE: after getting an outraged email from a twilight fan about my horrible review of Bella, I say this with total honesty and welcome any more silly emails about my horrible “assassination” of Bella!) Grace is gutsy and curious and her link with the wolves has some substance unlike the beginning of Bella’s strange obsession with vampires and Edward in Twilight. Unlike Bella, she isn’t a martyr to the cause and ready to sacrifice herself for the sake of wolves (like Bella with her vampire) but that doesn’t mean she isn’t likeable, she just seems more realistic. The way in which she is courageous is much more subtle and again she shares a trait with Bella; Bella stands out from other humans because of her unique smell and also that Edward is unable to read her mind like he does with other humans. Similarly, Grace is also unique in that she was bitten by wolves but remains human all year round but still has some senses that tie strongly with the wolves. Her link therefore to the wolves feels much more believable due to the experience she had.

Sam is also a very likeable character. Sam spends his life switching between his wolf form in winter months and his human form in the summer, the only characteristic connecting him is his distinctive yellow eyes. I liked how selfish Sam was at times and it made me feel that this would be how a normal eighteen year old boy in love would be. When he realises that Grace was bitten but would never change, he has moments where he wishes beyond anything that she could be like him so he can be with her forever, as he is aware that one day he will not change to human again. Compared to Edwards anger in Twilight when Bella declares she wishes to become immortal, this is a much more refreshing and honest thought! There is a lot of anguish and pain in the depiction of Sam that makes him an endearing and intriguing character, from his childhood through to his experiences as a wolf.

Misrepresentation!

Like all teen books in this genre, the thread of this book is the romantic relationship between a human and a wolf. However, I felt that this book didn’t glamourise wolves as Sam longs to be human and Sam and Grace try and keep Sam warm (and therefore human) as long as they can to preserve their relationship. In previous books, I’ve felt that there is in equal parts action and romance but in this one, the action is very much played down. In fact, it felt like the wolf part of the story was very secondary to the fact that this was just about two teenagers experiencing first love. It wasn’t disappointing because of this and I didn’t feel that anything was missing, but once again afterwards I couldn’t help but feel that this book was seriously misrepresented.

I reviewed a book a couple of weeks ago whose cover completely represented the contents of the book, but this one couldn’t be further from the truth although I can see how it works. The word shiver represents how the humans change into wolves when they get too cold, but my first instinct on that word is one of fear and horror. The cover is dark and the leaves are dripping blood, all representing the forest in which the wolves live and the blood of their victims, but I imagined something much more sinister.

Overall…

This isn’t a book that is going to be remembered and it isn’t the most exciting of books that I have read in this genre. I think it might be quite hard to get a teen book to live up to Stephenie Meyer’s book although this one does take up a different stance. I think with teenagers this would be a massive hit, but it doesn’t have the adult cross-over appeal that Twilight has which is a surprise as this one has some more overt sexual undertones and less slushy teen romance talk! The writing is well done but not magical, the characters are likeable but not outstanding. There just seems to be something really lacking in the story overall and I can’t help but think its just one of those churned out type of books that could have done with a lot more thought to make really extra special. There are things, like the characters early development which were brilliant, but by the middle of the book, it was clear that the early excitement was extremely let down by a plot which was severely lacking.

Despite the ending of this book needing further explanation which I am sure will be looked at in the next book, as well as exploring how Grace can mysteriously NOT turn to a werewolf when everyone else who has been bitten turning into one, I won’t be seeking out this author again. I might recommend it to my twilight-obsessed 13 year old cousin, who consequently shares the same name as the main character in this book!

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Shiver
by Maggie Stiefvater

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Written by burtybookworm
burtybookworm



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