Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Page Count: 392 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
50 words or less: After a brutal mauling by wolves, Grace is enamored with the one who saved her. Sam is that wolf; he's a werewolf who struggles to stay human. The love is instantaneous, but what sacrifices have to be made for them to be together?
Perhaps the hardest thing I'll have to do today is find some way to describe the way I feel after reading Shiver. I may indeed be the last person on the planet to read it; reviews and commentary and contests are everywhere; I tried to read without letting what I'd heard and read influence my opinion of the book.
Nothing I'd read, anywhere, could possibly have prepared for actually sitting down and reading Shiver cover to cover. Shiver is unlike anything else I've read in recent memory, which is fantastic, because there is a tendency with reading books of the paranormal ilk to fall into the "if you've read one, you've read them all" mentality.
Sam and Grace as both individual characters and as a couple are richly drawn and function well independently of each other, something that's always attractive for me in any novel, but especially in one marketed for young adults. Grace is smart, responsible, independent, and observant; she deals with life's quirks in a believable way that makes her wise beyond her years, accepting and tolerant. All of these characteristics jive together to make her love for Sam and her acceptance of him totally believable, because admittedly, one big issue that paranormal books have to overcome is characters either being too accepting of the paranormal issue and coming off as dumb, or too disbelieving and thus grinding the plot to a dead halt.
Sam, on the other hand, is frequently described in the book as being "beautiful and sad," and truly that's exactly what he is. He has a heartbreaking backstory that's introduced at perfect times throughout the story for maximum impact but his quiet strength always shines through. There is none of that "me Tarzan, you Jane" claptrap that all too often finds its way into books unchecked, and his absolute reverence for Grace and for their blossoming relationship is beyond adorable. Also, can I just say that the scene where they go to the candy shop together is easily my favorite one of the entire book? I seriously wanted a cup of hot chocolate after reading it; in fact I read it a couple of times before I was ready to move on to the rest of the novel.
To be fair, I can definitely see Shiver as being a love it or hate it kind of book. This is a book that simmers without boiling, flows without flooding, and there is a lot of talking and many scenes of Grace and Sam just simply enjoying being together and being in the first stages of a relationship. Shiver is a hot cup of tea, not a shot of espresso. The action takes awhile to build and some issues don't get resolved, which may rub people the wrong way. If you're looking for spine cracking action and people who kick ass and take names then for sure, there are other books that are more up your alley. If you're looking for something that's off the beaten path but still definitely within the realm of paranormal romance, though, Shiver is highly recommended.
Overall Grade: A
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