Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Book: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Release date: August 1, 2009
Source: Local library

Summary: (from Goodreads) the cold. Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

the heat. Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now.

the shiver. For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.


First impressions: I read the first few chapters of this book in a writing class, so that experience definitely influenced my impressions when I picked up the book this time around. Stiefvater sets up the story really well, introducing us to the dual perspectives of Grace and Sam that will carry us through the rest of the book. Her writing style is staccatoed and almost poetic at times, and she lets us know immediately that Sam's yellow eyes and the temperature will be important elements of the story.

Lasting impressions: There are some gruesome moments in this book. The encounter with the dogs, Sam's parents, people getting shot - not for the faint of heart. I was caught off guard by the amount of violence and it certainly stuck with me long after I put down the book. I'm not usually so affected by that kind of thing, but for some reason this story had me squirming at the level of brutality present at times.

Negative impressions: The story didn't really kick in gear for me until the last quarter of the book. I loved the beginning, thought the ending was solid, but the middle really dragged. I wasn't a big fan of the back-and-forth narration switches. I thought Grace was a little too quick to accept Sam's wolfiness (for lack of a better word). It also irked me that Grace's parents were basically written out of the book so Grace had a good excuse to spend all of this time with Sam. There didn't seem to be much conflict in the relationship with her parents, and the fact that they were never around bothered Grace, but not in any way that really affected the plot. It read like a device necessary to get them out of the house instead of a symptom of some larger issue.

Overall impressions: I loved the concept of temperature being responsible for Sam's shifting. Sam was by far the more interesting character to me. His backstory really drew me into the world, from how he was turned to how he came into his current pack. He had this long, complicated, tortured history that I connected with, and it made me understand his choices. I'm not sure I can say the same thing for Grace.

Grace annoyed me more than anything. She basically falls in love with a wolf, with the added bonus that he turns human sometimes. She never notices Sam as Sam, only Sam as wolf. Her relationships with her parents and friends are all strained, and none of her interactions with them make her the least bit likable. She was too self-absorbed for my taste.

Once I got through the slogging middle, the plot really picked up and I got really caught up in the race against time and temperature. I loved the way it ended, and it worked well as a stand alone novel, so I'm curious what the sequels will be about. Stiefvater has an interesting writing style, and the short chapters make it easy to flip pages, so I will probably read Linger.

Rating: 3/5 stars



13 comments:

Jessica K. said...

I wasn't fond of SHIVER...I just was not able to get into it....

Anyways, I passed the Stylish Blogger award to you!! SQUEE!! Go see my blog for the info!

Small Review said...

I completely agree with you about Grace! She was so....strange. I didn't "get" her emotional (or lack of) responses and relationships. I'm glad you said what you did about her looking at only Sam as a wolf, because that really did bug me too.

This is probably one of the worst cases of "missing parent syndrome" in a book ever. I also like how you described this. It felt too contrived.

I didn't make it past the slogging middle to get to the end.

Stephanie said...

I actually enjoyed this one, but reading about the negatives you found - the absent parents in particular - I do remember the annoying bits. The ending is what REALLY made the book for me. I absolutely loved it and it's the reason I haven't read the sequel.

I could be wrong, but something to keep in mind: I believe Linger has four narrators which is pretty crazy!

Logan E. Turner said...

@Jessica - Thanks! I hope I can come up with 15 bloggers that accept awards!

@Small Review - If Sam had been as bad as Grace in the weirdness department, I would not have finished this. He's the only reason I kept reading, and only the writing style (which I liked) and the end saved this from a 2 star review. The middle was just bad.

@Stephanie - Definitely the ending made this book (sort of) worth it. And yes, Linger has more narrators. I bit the bullet and started reading it today, but only because I got it through Kindle lending so I didn't have to pay for it!

Carrie said...

Hmmm...this is one that I keep picking up, flipping through and putting down again. I know it makes me VERY shallow, but it is such a pretty book that I really want to like it. Great cover! Blue ink! Will be curious to hear what you think of the next one.

Carissa said...

I agree with you that Grace's character didn't really pop. She just felt like a mellow Bella Swan, meekly accepting everything thrown at her by her supernatural boyfriend.


I thought Sam was enjoyable because he was kind of the anti-hero. Really sensitive and unsure of himself.


I agree that the book was drawn out way longer than it needed to be. Once Sam and Grace got together they just got into this holding pattern where not much happened.


Great review!

Mad Scientist said...

I'm glad some one besides just me who thought this book wasn't the greatest book. I was highly disappointed with this book after so many people told me it was a must read.

Today I posted a review of a grand Steampunkery Book!  Please do check it out, I highly recommend Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar if you want Steampunkery and a mix of many genres.  A new favorite... indeed a huggable book!

Mad Scientist
Steampunkery & Book Reviews
Forbidden Steam
Where the Mad Scientist can be found behind the bed chamber doors!

Aylee said...

Hmm, I'm not sure I like Grace very much either from what you've described of her.
I've heard before that the pacing is a bit slow but good to know that it at least picks up at the end. But this is the first time I'm hearing about the violence in this book. I had no idea.

Logan E. Turner said...

@Carrie - Not shallow at all! Covers are important, and that one is beautiful. It's just a shame for writers that as readers we do tend to judge a book by its cover, and they have little to no control over it!

@Carissa - You're right. It suffered that horrible fate where a love story can't seem to coincide with action. It's like we have to slow down and have them do nothing so they can just moon over each other. Snore.

@Mad Scientist - Great review! I can't wait to read that book now!

@Aylee - I think I may have been extra sensitive about it because it involved animals. People violence doesn't bother me as much as animal violence for some reason. So it might just be me.

The Lovely Getaway said...

Loggaaannnn!

Its always great to hear an honest review.... i had heard both good and bad things about this book, but I still bought it. Its currently sitting in my TBR pile. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

Diana

Nightly Cafe said...

Great review. I did enjoy Shiver, and I have to agree with you that the middle dragged some. I am anxiously waiting for Linger to see where the story goes :).

BK

Missie said...

After reading your Linger review, I just had to race over here to see what you thought of Shiver.

Logan, that is exactly why she accepted Sam's wolfiness so quickly. She fell in love with the wolf.

You definitely make some interesting points here. Agree, the writing, poetic, the novel, great as a stand alone, and the violence, very squire inducing. But I liked the two character POV changes. If anything, I really called to attention who guys and girls fall in love in very different ways.

Yes, the absentee parent thing was strange and convenient for the plot, but Grace had some deep rooted feeling about it that she refused to bring to the surface, even after Sam was willing to hash it out with her. It has been a while since I read the book, but doesn't he says, are you sure you didn't just sleep with me to get back at your parents.

Of course he thinks to say this after they had already done the deed, which I felt was such a classic guy thing to do.

I loved everything about Shiver, even the down time because I wanted Sam to enjoy his break from the fear of changing, though it was always there. I think I even rated it 5 stars! But I loved reading your thoughts, too. Very insightful. :D

"Writing is my Drug. A fixed Addiction." said...

Love this review, it will give me heads up before I read shiver, I have wanted to for awhile, ever since I was told I write like her in the Hunted of 2060...and wanted to know what people compared me too....but I write the shifter evolutions saga. Very different from this story, but still SHIFTERS are a paramount point in the story.

Can't wait to buy all three...when is forever coming out? The third book.

Well, if anyone wants more shifters books, check out http://www.amiblackwelder.com

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