Author: Maggie Stiefvater
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