Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Challenges: Read 'n' Review challenge
First sentence: "I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves."
For six years, Grace has watched her yellow-eyed wolf, the wolf who saved her from death, from a distance. He disappears every summer and returns in the fall, watching. When a local teen appears to have been killed by the wolves who live in Grace's woods, the lives of the human inhabitants of Mercy Falls, Minn., and the wolves will collide.
Sam has loved Grace ever since he first saw her, on a cold night six years ago. He leads two lives -- when it's warm, he's human, but when it's cold, he's something else entirely. Once Grace and Sam admit to their feelings for one another, it's a race against time -- and the weather -- for the teens.
My Two Cents:
I have kept my Twilight-related rants off here thus far, mainly because I haven't read anything in the young adult paranormal romance genre recently. However, I couldn't pass this one by, so, I apologize for the potential length of this review in advance.
The key to any good young adult paranormal romance (or any young adult romance, for that matter) is an object of human affection who is just out of reach for some reason. In Twilight, Edward's a vampire, so that makes him slightly unattainable to Bella. In Shiver, Sam is a werewolf (I admit I giggled at the fact that the werewolf was named Sam, like one of the wolves in Twilight), so that also makes him unattainable to Grace. That sense of longing is what creates a lot of the tension, and throwing in the challenges of a human/mythological creature relationship just intensifies that tension. It's this tension that makes the stories so compelling and so utterly irresistible to already-hormonal teenagers (and adults, as it would seem).
The comparisons to Twilight stop there, however. While Twilight is a fairly compelling story (In that you want to know what happens next, which keeps you reading), it's actually a really poorly written quartet of books.
Shiver, on the other hand, is beautifully written. Stiefvater seamlessly transitions between Grace and Sam as narrators. Where Grace is pragmatic and practical, which shows in her narration, Sam is poetic. I would quote some specific passages here, but I just gave the library's copy to the mother of a teen who I think would enjoy the book. I found myself completely unable to put this book down, which is the mark of a good story, but there also were portions that I just wanted to go back and re-read a few times because they were so well-constructed from a language standpoint.
One of the things I really liked about Shiver's world was that there were actually potentially logical explanations for the folklore (Unlike in Twilight, where Meyer just throws all the previous mythology out the window and doesn't explain why people may have developed those perceptions). For example, Sam explains that he believes people think werewolves change with a full moon because it is traditionally colder at night. Since the wolves in Stiefvater's world change as the temperature gets colder, this seems a logical explanation (Unlike the complete absence of fangs in Twilight or about 1,000,000 other things).
Grace is a character I would have liked to have as a friend when I was a teenager. She's smart, funny and caring. And Sam. Well, Sam is definitely someone I would have liked to meet when I was in high school. He's protective of Grace without being overbearing and he's intelligent and not afraid to show it. His good looks don't hurt, either.
Everywhere that Twilight failed, in my mind (And it's a lot of places), Shiver soared. I was thrilled to learn that this is going to be part of a series, although I'm interested to see how Stiefvater keeps the storyline going. This is one book that needs to get into the hands of every Twilight fangirl on Earth so she can see just how good a young adult paranormal romance can be.
My rating: 10/10