Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver has been all the rage for the past couple of years among the teen vampire/werewolf fan set.  And I can see why: it’s got the same obsessive relationship stuff (almost but not quite as chaste as Twilight); the same star-crossed species theme; and a similar paranormal ethos.  Like Bella, Grace abandons friends and family (though, to be fair, her family abandoned her first) to be with her non-human boyfriend all the time.  She also watches him go wistfully, wishing she could transform herself in order to be like him.  Meanwhile, Sam the wolf (like Edward the Vampire) would give anything to abandon his supernaturalness and just be human.  Both boys also quake with repressed sexual desire for their loved ones (though SPOILER Sam’s release comes a lot quicker than Edward’s, and without marriage – which, frankly, I found refreshing).

I didn’t mind Shiver, but it certainly didn’t rock my world.  The concept was not bad – humans bit by werewolves transform according to the temperature, which mostly leads to human summers and wolf winters.  There are a lot of inconsistencies in this setup (what if you move to Florida where it’s always warm?) and the execution (Sam’s transitions initially don’t make a lot of sense)… but gradually most holes seem to be mostly filled by the end.

I read Shiver slowly, so by the end it did seem to be a bit of a slog for me.  I found myself just wanting it to be over, and having a pretty good idea of where it was going (I think one major thing surprised me.  The rest, not so much.)  But I think if you read it all in one go, you’d enjoy it a lot more.  Good for Twilight fans, though not nearly as captivating.  Unlike Twilight, though, I didn’t feel vaguely dirty when I finished Shiver.  The main character has a lot more agency than Bella did, and though she moons over Sam, they have a pretty interesting connection and it’s not quite as mindless (or repetative) as Bella’s mooning over Edward.

That said, I did think Wolf Blood by N. M Browne was a whole lot more interesting take on the werewolf dynamic.  Really great, strong characters driving that – with some good substance, and an even stronger connection to the real animals than Shiver  (even if it did drag a bit in the middle also).  (And for a better book about the cold, read Iain Lawrence’s spectacular Winter Pony).

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Filed under Fantasy, Just Read, Young Adult books

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