Thursday, October 29, 2009

REVIEW: Shiver

Stiefvater, M.  (2009).  Shiver.  New York:  Scholastic Press.


390 Pages.

PLOT SUMMARY:  When Grace was younger, she was attacked by a pack of wolves.  The only reason she survived was one wolf with striking eyes prevented it.  As Grace has gotten older "her wolf" continues to watch her, unaware that he is actually a werewolf who has been in love with her since their first meeting.  After one of the boys from school is killed by the local wolves, the town of Mercy Falls, Minnesota begins cleaning their guns, ready to reduce the wolf population, forcing Grace to protect the werewolves and to finally meet her wolf, Sam.

Oh, the romance.  Oh, the angst.  Oh, the paranormal angsty romance?  Is it possible, dear readers, that I have read a similar story before?   Yes, just maybe.

To share Sam and Grace's romance, Shiver switches back and forth between their points of view.  If each chapter weren't marked according to who was narrating (and the temperature), I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Grace and Sam's voices.  Sure every now and then Sam starts creating song lyrics, song LYRICS and more SONG LYRICS.  But the first person narrations from both teens sounds the same.  Very poetic and beautiful (a nice change from many of the other paranormal romances out there), but the same.

I also really liked the concept of a werewolf's transformation being determined by temperature.  I thought it was an interesting interpretation and Stiefvater made it relevant to the setting and underlying tensions of the story.  After all, werewolves in July just doesn't have the same visual appeal as them running through a snowy wood.  I may have, however, started mumbling why don't they just move to Florida around page 100.  By page 150, I was yelling.  LIVE WHERE IT'S WARM!  MOVE SOUTH!  DO IT, DO IT NOW OR I WILL CRY!!!!!!  Luckily, Stiefvater does eventually address this small plot hole.

But then I found a new plot hole.  The end just kinda...ends (before you say, no kidding that's what endings do.  Read this one.  We'll discuss).  Despite the switching back and forth in point of view, there's a lack of switching during dramatic moments.  Grace gets attacked by a wolf.  I want to be with her through that experience.  But I'm with Sam.

On the grand scale, I wouldn't call this a tense novel, more of a slow snowflakes drifting down to the ground with a few icicles of antagonists and drama occasionally dripping water from time to time as you sip hot chocolate and watch kinda book.  I wouldn't have minded a little more tension.  But then, I've always been more of a dark and cold night, breathing out vapor as you're chased and falling on the ice only to be bludgeoned by falling hail kinda reader.

It was hard not to compare Grace to Bella in the Twilight series.  Both characters have parents who are absent, both do the cooking for the family, both have depressive tendencies and both become obsessed with their stalkery love interests.  But, where Bella is consistently a victim, Grace is a tad bit more independent.  Although the, "I did not live until he entered my life" thoughts did still make me roll my eyes.  But, I often roll my eyes at romance, dear readers.  It's probably a contributing factor to why I'm a long-time singleton.

On a much more random note, the book font color drove me crazy.  As you can see above, the book cover features dark blue prominently.  Well, it's trick of the light that the font color used throughout the book seems to match.  It's actually dark grey.  I know this because I devoted way too much time debating the font color as I read.  Literally, I'd put my nose to the page and lean away, watching the font go from grey to blue.  My brain, for the win.


This book lends itself to being compared to other recent paranormal romances or to being a well-written recommendation for teens who are hooked on the current trend.

The book lends itself to discussions on hunter culture and the reasons and risks associated with hunting.  Student could also explore the way space is presented in the story--who is close to who and when?  How is that a metaphor for their emotional relationships?  On those lines, a teacher could also encourage students to focus on setting and imagery as they read Shiver.

Since Sam is a fan of writing lyrics, students could do the same.  A teacher could incorporate this book into lessons on poetry, particularly focusing on the works of Rainer Maria Rilke.

To go a more sciencey route, a teacher could also give some historical information on how vaccines are developed.


"I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.  They were licking me, biting me, worrying at my body, pressing in.  Their huddled bodies blocked what little heat the sun offered" (p. 1).

"I didn't realize that the wolves in the wood were all werewolves until Jack Culpeper was killed" (p. 12).

"I'm sorry.  I feel stupid for not remembering.  It takes a couple hours for me--for my brain--to come back."
He didn't release my fingers, and I didn't take them away, even though it was hard to concentrate with his skin against mine.  "Come back from what?"
"Come back from when," he corrected.  "come back from when I was..."
Sam waited.  He wanted me to say it.  It was harder than I thought it would be, to admit it out loud, even though it shouldn't have been.
"When you were a wolf," I whispered" (p. 67).

"I struggled to find something to say that wouldn't sound like the greeting of an interspecies stalker.  "Good morning," I managed" (p. 84).


1 comment:

  1. I have this and am curious to see whether it will be one that I enjoy. I haven't read Twilight so I guess no comparisons for me!



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