Monday, December 21, 2009

Review of Shiver:

by Maggie Stiefvater
Published: 2009
Pages: 392
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
My rating:   4 out of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me by a student and when I saw it on the New York Times Bestseller List, I was immediately intrigued. I mean, who wouldn’t be? The cover art is amazing; it evokes such coldness and mystery.  Plus, my student said that fans of Team Jacob (a werewolf character from Twilight) would enjoy this novel.  I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

    The main character, Grace, lives in chilly Minnesota and spends a lot of her time staring longingly into the woods behind her house.  She has one wolf that she watches, a yellow-eyed wolf, and she is mesmerized by him.  

    The other main character, Sam, lives two lives.  In winter, he lives in the frozen woods with his pack.  When it’s summer, he becomes human again, but the impending cold weather can easily make him shift back.  Without saying too much, Grace runs into a yellow-eyed boy one summer day. Could it be her wolf?   

    This novel is told from two different point of views, Sam and Grace. I’ve been noticing more and more young adult authors switching between two points of view in their novels and I really like it; although, if it wasn’t labeled Grace or Sam, it would be hard to tell the difference as there isn’t much in the writing style that differentiates the two.  Nonetheless, the two opposing viewpoints help the reader to become familiar with both characters and their developing relationship.

    Kudos to Maggie Stiefvater for coming up with the idea of werewolves shifting based on temperature and not the cycle of the moon.  It is a unique idea and it keeps the story suspenseful.  I also absolutely have to discuss Stiefvater fantastic writing style.  It was extremely haunting and tremendously poetic.  I was completely and utterly engrossed by certain passages. Her descriptions of the woods and the wolves were so detailed and filled with sensory language that I literally felt the frosty air that she described.  It definitely was magical and that is not the norm in young adult literature.  I wasn’t expecting that writing style to say the least.  Stiefvater didn’t include a multitude of curse words and dumbed down vocabulary, which many of her fellow young adult writers unfortunately do.  Instead, her writing was a breathe of refreshingly cold air.  In sum, Stiefvater’s writing is truly spectacular.  For example, let me share one of my favorite passages.... “And then I opened my eyes and it was just Grace and me--nothing anywhere but Grace and me--she pressing her lips together as though she were keeping my kiss inside her, and me holding this moment that was as fragile as a bird in my hands.”  Sigh. Beautiful.  

    You are probably wondering why I didn’t give this four out of four stars.  My only issue with the book occurs directly in the middle of the novel.  It started to lose some of its momentum and lost my interest for a bit.  Grace’s obsession with the wolves became a bit too eccentric for me.  She became obsessed as in stage five clinger!  However, putting that aside, I’m glad I stuck with the novel.  The ending was perfect and I look forward to the sequel, Linger, which comes out in the fall of 2010.  I hear there will also be a third book in the series and the possibility of a movie.  In fact, the School Library Journal predicts that Grace and Sam will be giving Bella and Edward a run for their money.  With that said, I’m looking forward to seeing if this series lives up to that lofty claim.

    Finally, I’d also like to say what a nice person Maggie Stiefvater is.  I requested her friendship on Facebook in order to learn more about her as an author and share this information with my students who are interested in her.  But to my surprise, she wrote me a message when she found out I was reading Shiver! I was beyond ecstatic. Not to be too corny, but getting a message from the author of the book I’m currently reading, literally sent a shiver up my spine. :) 

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