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Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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Publisher: Scholastic

Where did you get this book: Won in a contest

Release date: Available now

This review contains spoilers!

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Blurb taken from Scholastic website:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, 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.

I’d heard both good and bad things about Shiver. Seems most people fall into either the love it or hate it camps, so I tried to read with an open mind. We’ll start with the good first. Stiefvater’s use of language is beautiful, almost poetic in places. I love the idea that werewolves changes are tied to temperature rather than the weather, unlike some twists on legends, this makes sense to me.

Unfortunately soon after that, my love of the book faltered. Though Stiefvater’s writing is far superior, I couldn’t help seeing the parallels between Shiver and another YA paranormal of which I’m not at all fond. Grace is human, but special (in this case because she was attacked by werewolves but never changed) and she’s in love with Sam, the werewolf who doesn’t really want to be what he is. He’s watched her for years, ever since he rescued her from the attack.

I can almost forgive the stalker issues because of the fact that he has canine tendencies. Dogs are fiercely loyal and Sam watching Grace fits that. The only problem is that in the early parts of the novel, I couldn’t get past how many ways Sam reminded me of my own dog. He seemed to follow Grace around like a lost puppy dog. Sure, it’s cute in a way, but it never felt romantic to me.

And that leads to my biggest issue with the book. Unlike most of what I read in YA, this is very much a paranormal romance with not even the tip of a toe dipping in the urban fantasy pool. The relationship between Grace and Sam is the story. External conflicts are very minimal, and I never felt like their relationship was really threatened, much less that they were in danger.

Combining that with me not feeling the romance means the book had a very stable tension level, and it was pretty low.

To be fair I can see how the story would appeal to people. As I said, the writing is beautiful, and perhaps had I not seen Sam the way I did, I’d buy him as a romantic lead. I think that would have made a huge difference in my appreciation for the book.

So I guess more than any review I’ve done before, my full review needs to be kept in mind. Other people would love this book, but for my own enjoyment,  the best I can give Shiver is a B-.

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