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Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf in particular - her wolf - is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Every winter, she watches him, but every summer, he disappears.
Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives. In winter, he stays in the frozen woods, with the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, he has a few precious months of being human... until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be.
But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human - or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
'Shiver' is a story about a late teenage couple fighting to be together, the only thing standing in the way of their ever growing love is time.
Grace is an ordinary girl with a not so ordinary story. Right from the beginning we know that as a child, Grace was attacked by wolves and bitten. Ever since, she has been fascinated by the wolves who live in the woods outside her home. Particularly with the yellow-eyed wolf that saved her.
Sam is a boy with an extraordinary secret. Trapped by weather and time, he is in love with a girl that has never seen his human face.
When their worlds collide they have to fight not only for their lives and their love, they have to fight to be together.
Sam and Grace meet for the first time when she finds him human, naked and bleeding on her back porch. With his unmistakable yellow eyes, Grace instantly recognises Sam and knows instinctively that he is the wolf she has been watching. From this point we are drawn into Sam's world and the story progresses at a good pace.
The storyline itself can be slightly dark in places although it focuses more on the relationship between Grace and Sam than anything else.
Sam has a truly traumatic past. And then there's the fact that he can only be human when the weather is warmer, and eventually will have to relinquish his human identity for good.
I love how the temperature is uniquely used and adds a vein of tension throughout the story, as each chapter begins with by stating the temperature, which steadily drops throughout as Sam and Grace's time runs out, and almost becomes as much of a character in the story as either Grace or Sam.
I enjoyed the gradual development of the story and found that the relaxed pace meant that even simple moments such as family drama, school drama, day-to-day life, etc were able to tell a story.
It was interesting to follow how two people from such different worlds interact with each other, and it was great to see how their experiences with friends and families had shaped them individuals as well as how they related to one another.
The super natural storyline does not at all over power the love story and the storylines fit together perfectly.
Shiver is told in the 1st person points of view of the hero and the heroine, Sam and Grace.
The idea, to have both the main characters have individual chapters on their experiences, works brilliantly, cleverly evolving both characters at an equal rate.
Each has a clear voice, although each chapter states the narrator at the start.
The narrative style is good, easy to follow and it is interesting to get points of view from the different characters throughout the book.
I really loved the setting of this book, especially the woods and how much they are featured in the book, almost taking on a character of their own.
The immensely detailed descriptions give you a sense of natural beautiful woods, and yet they are also a sinister, dark, twisted and mysterious place, where wolves and humans naturally came together.
I like that the woods are such a big part of Grace's feelings towards Sam; she gazes at them longingly and dreams of living under the golden leaves just as she dreams of Sam himself.
Also, the constant underlying feature of the cold brings an added tension to the story. As you follow the changes in temperature, you feel the same cold that the characters do which only adds to the experience.
Unlike other romance stories, there is no love triangle. This is, quite simply, a love story between two people who want nothing more than to be together but who both know they are running out of time.
The relationship between Grace and Sam develops slowly. Although they are apparently in love immediately, due to a deeper connection, the developing romance doesn’t feel forced, false or rushed and the feelings shared between them feel real without being overly mushy.
They are well developed, realistic characters with concerns and problems of their own, outside of each other. Their relationship isn't the all consuming purpose of the plot, and the rest of the plot is enough to feel like it wasn't just a carrier for the romance, without getting in the way of the romance.
Grace is the female protagonist of the story and is different from the stereo-typical female leads.
She isn’t the damsel in distress, the mean girl or the popular girl. She's not rich and she doesn't have a sob story in her past. In fact she is she is quite the opposite. A thick skinned, practical and resilient girl who is down-to-earth, focused and likes everything to make sense.
Sam is the male protagonist of the story and is different from the stereo-typical male leads.
He isn’t the usual bad boy or arrogant jerk with oodles of attitude. Nor is he the 'alpha male' stereotype.
In fact, he is quite the opposite. Gentle and fragile, sensitive, artistic and romantic.
I especially liked the way neither Grace nor Sam have had perfect relationships with their friends and family, and this becomes a strong bond that they shared.
Grace's parents are useless and pay little attention to their daughter, whereas Sam's parents are better left unspoken about.
The supporting characters in the story give added depth to the structure, believability and fluidity.
There aren't too many, just enough that everyone is memorable and most are involved in small side plots so don’t become insignificant.
They are well rounded, believable and critical to supporting the main theme. From Grace's distant parents, Sam’s pack master/father figure and the pack members themselves, to the mean girl you love to hate.
I really liked the wolves and the world they inhabited. The descriptions of them changing form were particularly well thought out.
I loved the original take on the werewolf legend. Stereo-typically, werewolves turn into massive super-wolves, weird human/wolf mixes or have telepathic abilities allowing human speech and communication.
The werewolves in Shiver turn into proper wolves, think wolf thoughts, act like wolves and eat wolf foods with only the faintest memory of the human things that were most important to them in their human lives. For example, people's faces or scents were familiar but their names forgotten. These new wolves make change somehow more frightening because the human side of them is basically lost as soon as they transform.
I wouldn't compare this book to any others that i have read, as none of them are quite like this.
Shiver is truly unique and i am very glad that i took a chance on it when it popped up in my recommendations.
I didn't realise at the time that it is the first part of a trilogy, so i am very excited to now be able to indulge in the following 2 instalments.
I will of course review those as and when i finish them.
This book appeals to all ages and i highly recommend it.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
This book is definitely for young girls in high school. It does deal with death and sex but very lightly. As with all YA novels, parents are never around and the teenagers are smarter than them. I won't buy the next novel since this puppy love story was not for me.