September 26, 2011

Review: Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Title: Shiver
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls(#1)
ISBN: 9780545123266
Publisher: Scholastic (2009)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Grace and Sam share a kinship so close they could be lovers or siblings. But they also share a problem. When the temperature slips towards freezing, Sam reverts to his wolf identity and must retreat into the woods to protect his pack. He worries that eventually his human side will fade away and he will left howling alone at the lonely moon. A stirring supernatural teen romance. GoodReads’ blurb


 A little disclaimer here: I haven’t read this book. I listened to the unabridged audiobook version. Why I’m stating it first thing? Because I feel like it might have colored my perception of this book. And now that the tidbit is out of the way... let’s get on with the review.

I’ve heard a lot of thins about Shiver. It was one of those titles that make you feel like the world has read it, and you’re the only one missing. Reactions had been pretty extreme and quite opposite as well – to sum it up, Shiver Lovers said that both characters and romance were awesome and Shiver Haters said it was just a Twilight copycat.

I didn’t feel like I was reading a copycat at all. Actually, because I had read the reviews, I looked for the common elements – and drew a surprising blank. We do have a love story between a girl and a supernatural being, but that’s about the only similarity... And if that was enough to claim anything, we’d have no original books left at all!

That said, though, I can’t say I love the book as much as other readers seem to.

While I could get over the idea that Grace is not scared of wolves even after being attacked, I can’t quite wrap my mind about the fact that she falls in love with a wolf. Not with a werewolf, because that’s kind of normal, but with an ordinary wolf. I need to ask this: am I the only one bothered by this? Am I the only one who noticed?

But then, her wolf-love turns out to be a human and everything should be right, no? Well, frankly, I’d have expected her to make more of a fuss when finding out a naked guy on her porch. A naked, bleeding guy. The way she readily recognized him as her wolf, and just kept calm and took him to the hospital... It didn’t feel too natural and I had trouble relating to her reactions at that point.

I also found vaguely amusing that the day after the shoot-out the pair of them would be living as if they’d been dating for years. Other readers find it endearing and sweet, but I’d have liked to see a clearer progression, a path to acceptance as it were, no matter how destined they were to be together. But okay, I can deal with this: after all, they were in love when they were different species, so technically speaking they have been together for years by this point.

Don’t get me wrong, there were also redeeming points. Grace was an okay heroine, and Sam’s behavior was cute, I guess. This is, by the way, the reason I warned about the audiobook issue: Sam’s voice acting sounded overdone most of the time, so I got a whimsical impression of his character. Later on, thinking about it, I realized he’d done nothing to deserve it – except perhaps sprouting weird lyrics at random moments for no apparent reasons – but the damage was done. It got to a point where I liked Jack better, the couple chapters where he appeared.

Jack, by the way, brings me to the support characters. They didn’t get much screen time, but I found them enjoyable nonetheless – Jack’s sister in particular, even though she seems a bad person at first, and later on proves to be slightly on the dumb side... but she had such great moments! (If you’ve read the series: I’m thinking the sheds.)

The dumb thing is related to the ending, I can’t spoil it, but it left me thinking “What the hell are you doing!?” and wishing I could smack my head with the book. It was an ipod, so I refrained, but still...

Characters and love story aside, the premise behind Shiver was very interesting. I spent the first half of the book wondering why the hell they didn’t just move to Arizona or something, but luckily the author cleared it up. But there are a lot of things still in the air, and I plan on reading the rest of the series. I know, reading this post might seem like a rant, perhaps, but it isn’t. Shiver was entertaining, even though I would not call it a masterpiece, and I’m just exposing this issues because there’s so much talk around this title – and I don’t think anyone mentioned my points yet?

So, if you’d like to read a romantic story with an original spin on werewolves, I’d tell you to pick Shiver up. See what you think.


I can’t stop myself. The following is a BIG spoiler, but I want to ask a question to other readers.

Seriously: meningitis? Couldn’t they think of another way to get a fever? Without squeezing the brains? I mean, come on, fever is the most common symptom ever! How did you guys feel about this part?

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