Shiver gives goosebumps

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater; published by Scholastic Press, New York, 2009; 392 pages.

Grace was attacked by wolves in her backyard when she was 11 years old.  That incident has affected her more than she ever imagined.  Now 17, Grace prefers winter to summer because she can watch “her” wolf in the woods behind her house.  Sam is 18 years old and works summers near Grace.  His yellow eyes are his most distinguishing feature.  In fact, they are the same yellow eyes of Grace’s wolf.  Sam is a werewolf and changes form not by the phases of the moon but rather by cold temperatures.  Events unravel that bring Grace and Sam together and they discover a soul-mate bond with one another.  But his days as a human are numbered.  With the help of Sam’s wolf pack and Grace’s friends, they discover a cure for the werewolves.  Will they be able to save Grace’s friends?  Will she be in time to save Sam?  In a brilliantly written conclusion, Sam’s permanent conversion is unveiled.

Stiefvater has written the romance that I expected from the Twilight series.  Where Meyer is heavy-handed, manipulative and has created an unhealthily co-dependent heroine, Stiefvater is subtle, lyrical and has created a heroine who is more than capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with her true love.  In addition, I don’t think that boys will be embarrassed to read Shiver.  The mystery of the werewolves is as much a part of the plot as the romance between Grace and Sam.  Both characters have believable friendships, dysfunctional families, and teen troubles.  Shiver is escapism reading at its best.

The story is told from Grace’s and Sam’s perspectives, as indicated at the beginning of each chapter.  Stiefvater has miraculously created two distinct voices for the characters; it is obvious whose perspective the story is coming from.  I was also impressed by the author’s ability to describe the chemistry between Grace and Sam in a realistic way and without resorting to “telling” us about it; she describes glances and gasps, touches and eye contact.  She also uses an interesting plot device: Each chapter opens with the current temperature.  As readers follow the story, the importance of the degrees dropping help carry the story forward.  When the temperature hovers just above freezing, the anxiety of finding “the cure” is subtly reinforced.  The cold blue type and end pages reinforce the theme as well.  Fans of the Twilight series and genre will find a treasure in this book.  I’m disappointed that I have to wait until August of 2010 for the next installment!  When is the movie coming out?  This one’s a natural.  No wonder it made YALSA’s Quick Pick Nominations for 2009.

5P     5Q     Grade Level: 8-12+

shiverCover Art: The tangle of blue branches with their heart-shaped leaves hide the shadow of a wolf.  Within a frame of these branches is the word “shiver” in dark blue with a drop of blood dotting the i.  The author’s name is in paler blue unter the title.  This stunning cover should get the attention of teens, although the heart-shaped leaves may turn-off the male readers (too bad, I think they’d enjoy this book).  The image will get attention even before reading the book to understand the imagery, and then it will have even more impact.  The dark blue spine with the white font and blood-red dot over the i will stand out on the shelves.

Suggested Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

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