Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

I didn’t think I could read any more chaste love stories between teenagers and supernatural creatures, but a Borders Sale beckoned and I bought two werewolf books.  One, called ‘The Last Werewolf’ which I will be reading next and this one, ‘Shiver’ by Maggie Stiefvater.

Shiver is not your average everyday love story between a teen and the mysterious boy who could be a wolf.  In this one, when they meet, he actually is a wolf, and remains one through most of the early interaction.

I was intrigued by the author’s take on the Werewolf mythology.  In her world, a wolf bite does indeed turn one into a werewolf but the moon is not in charge of the change here.  Instead, the change is affected by the temperature.  When it gets cold enough you turn into a wolf and you stay that way until Spring or even Summer.  When you have been a wolf a long time, your time as a human decreases until at the last, you never change back and end your days as a wolf.  I loved that idea, that it wasn’t a supernatural thing, but could perhaps be explained by science (although good luck explaining morphing into a totally different species scientifically).

At the start of the story we meet Grace.  A not so typical teen who has been forced to grow responsible fairly early due to the total fickleness of her parents.  She is obsessed by the wolves in the woods out the back of her house.  She was attacked by them when she was nine and ever since she can’t get them out of her head.  Especially ‘her’ wolf.  He of the beautiful yellow eyes.

She has her suspicions about the wolves being not quite normal, but can’t articulate that suspicion until a boy at school is attacked by the pack.  He dies but his body disappears and later she sees a new wolf in the forest with his eyes.  Feelings amongst the townfolk have moved against the wolves and they organise a posse to go out and shoot them.

Grace is horrified and tries to stop the shooting but has no luck, dejected she goes home and finds a wounded boy on her doorstep with beautiful yellow eyes….

This truly is a love story with a difference.  I was totally entranced with both Sam and Grace.  The writing style is first person POV with mostly alternating chapters between Sam’s and Grace’s POV.  While the love story is mostly chaste, to keep it to a YA rating so that schools will buy it, it is also a beautiful tale with a quiet desperation to it when you learn that Sam hasn’t long left as a human.

I will admit that this book made me cry.  While it is very hard to read print when there are tears in your eyes, I do admire an author that can make me care enough about a character that I will weep for them.  It is a perfect love story, with the two protagonists made for each other without being too sickly about it.  They are both misfits and nobody glows here.  Neither is the most attractive in class and indeed, because of his condition, Sam cannot even attend school.

My only complaint was the first person perspective.  It was written well, but that style of writing is quite limiting and I found myself wanting to know what else was going on outside of the main characters’ purview.  Besides this there wasn’t much here I could fault.  I would recommend this to readers who enjoy teen love stories, or those with wolves in it.  If you are looking for supernatural romance similar to Vampire Diaries or Twilight then don’t look here.

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2 thoughts on “Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. You mentioned you’ll be reading The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan next. Since you’re reading it right after a YA werewolf book, I wanted to remind visitors to your page that The Last Werewolf is for adult readers. It’s a brilliant literary novel and a great read, but people should know that it contains some extremely dark ideas and explicit material. Even some adult readers will find aspects of the book upsetting.

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