Books · Reviews · Young Adult Fiction

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Published By: Scholastic Ltd, 2009 (Paperback)

Length: 434 pages

Summary: When she was eleven years old, Grace was attacked by the wolves that lived in the wood behind her house. Ever since, she has been obsessed, particularly with the wolf with yellow eyes that had protected her from the rest of the pack and has haunted her garden every winter since.

Years later she meets a boy with instantly familiar yellow eyes and knows without a doubt that he is her wolf. But surely that’s impossible.

Sam has led a double life since he was seven. Hot lazy summers spent as a boy, growing up, reading, writing and learning his times tables followed by long, frozen winters running and hunting in the woods with his pack, a wolf.

One day he saved a girl the pack attacked and ever since has watched over her whenever winters grip forced him into his fur.

He’s not supposed to mention the secret of the wolves to anyone but when a local boy is killed by the pack and a wolf hunt begins Sam finds himself face-to-face with his girl and has no choice but to tell her the truth.

What I Liked : Basically everything! I loved Stiefvater’s take on the werewolf legend mostly because, for a pleasant change, the werewolves turned into wolves. Proper wolves that thought wolfy things, acted like wolves and ate wolfy foods with only the faintest memory of the human things that were most important to them in their human lives – people’s faces were familiar but their names forgotten for example. It’s been ages since I read a werewolf book like that, recently they all seem to turn into massive super-wolves, weird human/wolf mixes or have telepathic abilities allowing human speech and communication. I liked that they became truly wolf in Shiver, it made the change somehow more frightening because the human in them was basically lost as soon as they transform.

I also very much enjoyed the world of Shiver. It was a natural, beautiful yet slightly sinister place where wolves and humans naturally came together which was perfect for the story. Having it set in a city with wolves randomly sprouting up would never have worked so well. Also, it was cold. I’m not sure how she did it but as you read the book you felt the same cold that the characters did adding to the tension as you moved through the story.

I found that the shifting viewpoint between Sam and Grace added depth to the story and helped to stop it from becoming one of those romance books where the entire story is just girl meets boy, they randomly fall hopelessly in love, they kiss a lot, fall into bed, have a minor argument, make up, story finished. Instead, the romance between Sam and Grace is just one of they key plot-lines, being carried along by some of the obvious issues you would have if your boyfriend changed species whenever it got cold and a few other, much more sinister ones that came with part of the package of discovering a supernatural world in your back yard.

What I didn’t like: Grace’s semi-permanently absent parents bugged me a little. I could almost buy into the ‘had a child young and then, as soon as it got old enough to take care of itself, went back to their old life and social circle’ story because the rest of the story helped you to just accept it. However, there was always that little bit of me being a bit unconvinced that they would be out quite as much as they were and wouldn’t notice Sam basically living in their house for weeks. For a start, did they not notice that Grace was suddenly using two lots of cutlery and crockery at every meal? As I’m sure she wouldn’t have always managed to do the washing up before they randomly came home.

I have heard a few people saying that it was just a below-par Twilight rip-off, which I think is generally unfair considering it’s much better written and completely different aside from also being a paranormal romance novel for teens and young adults. Plus I think Shiver was actually written before Twilight anyway…ahem…rant over…

Rating: Apart from the above, which is practically nothing, I can’t really think of anything I didn’t like which draws me to the conclusion that this book deserves a rather impressive 5/5 on my brand shiny new rating system that I have decided to use. Can’t wait to get stuck into Linger next!

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