Aug 232010
 

I mentioned my Pandigital Novel (see review here and here) about a month ago and how it’s great for free reads such as samples. Well, after all the “Shiver” hype, I decided to download a sample from Barnes & Nobles. I’ll be honest, the first few pages seemed a little slow, but the premises seemed interesting enough for me to give it a shot. So I ordered the book. When it arrived, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins arrived the same day (see review here). As great as the Hunger Games (see review here) was, I had HAD to dig into Catching Fire. I passed Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater on to my daughter and set a deadline for the both of us since she was eager to get into Catching Fire also. One week, then we’d switch books. Previously, Daughter girl said the Hunger Games was the best book she’d read that year. She finished shiver and said it was right up there with Hunger Games. Keep in mind, we don’t always share the same taste. Before I get into my review, the teaser from Ms. Stiefvater‘s 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.

There was a lot to like about Shiver. Not one of my favorites, but definitely a decent read.

Grace was an interesting character. My first impression was she acted too grown up for a seventeen year old. It took me a while to warm up to her because of it. (tee hee…did you catch my pun? “warm up” Okay that was lame. Moving on.) It wasn’t until later when her situation became apparent that her personality began to fit in my mind. Sometimes experiences do make children grow up a little fast. Sad, but true. Truly Grace was aged before her time.

Certainly Sam was an important character. Even though he had his own POV in the story, for some reason he just didn’t seem to take lead as I’d expect a main character to do. He seemed to play second fiddle to Grace. Not sure if this is what Ms. Stiefvater intended when she wrote the two POVs, but that’s how it played out to me. And it was certainly okay in my mind. A lot of romances are like that, with the female having more of a presence than the male. I wasn’t bothered, it just an impression which stayed with me. If I could put some adjectives to Sam’s name they would be Loyal, Chivalrous, Persevering.

So, I’m looking at my earlier notes and found I had a lot of questions at the beginning of the novel. The answers were answered later in the book, but I remember being very confused early on and asking the question “what are the rules?” I didn’t like the vagueness. In truth, I believe it was a main reason I had such a difficult time investing in the novel. It wasn’t until the rules about transformation and such became concrete that I was able to really get into the book. In a way, I guess it was fitting since Grace didn’t really know all the rules herself. Sam certainly was more familiar, but he wasn’t keeping me privy to all the hush, hush secrets about lycanthropy.

One of the things I found fascinating was Grace and Sam’s relationship. They reminded me of an old married couple many times in their mannerisms. They seemed comfortable with each other. It was almost as if they’d spent the last six years in each others company and not just a few weeks (or whatever the time period was). It was odd to see their relationship at that maturity level when really everything was so fresh to them.

That Grace was the sexually assertive one, also surprised me. :) Even though I’m a prude and want all children to wait before engaging in sex, I found this novel modern in its presentation. Like many YA shows (Kyle KY, Vampire Diaries, Smallville, Pretty Little Liars), teens are doing the “deed.” It saddens me so little thought goes into sharing an experience which should be special. Yes, quite a few teens are having sex, and Ms. Stiefvater didn’t put anything on the table which wasn’t already there. I’d be naive to think they weren’t. And it’d also be silly to think the heavy petting and spit exchange wasn’t a common occurrence amongst some teens. I was a kid once too, despite my archaic mentality. :) I just hope I’ve talked to my kids enough about the emotional side of sex that they know when the time come it should be a special for them and not something to give away lightly, regardless of the way the media portrays it. Like I said. :) I’m a prude despite my fondness for writing and reading erotic literature and talking about sex in general.

Now keep in mind, I just started reading the YA genre this year as an adult. I’m told this genre can incorporate a lot of adult issues while remaining YA. I think Shiver has one foot planted in the YA world, while crossing into the adult mentality. End the end, I have to say Ms. Stiefvater did an excellent job. Cause really, isn’t that what it’s like being a teen? Not quite a child, but definitely not a adult. The in between.

Shiver ended rather abruptly. I certainly wasn’t ready for the ending and neither was my daughter. After she finished Shiver she came to me with the same thoughts. The story didn’t quite seem finished. Well, I mentioned in an earlier post that I won Linger from Arena (The Nerd’s Wife Blog). So now I just have to wait until my daughter finishes hording it. I’m certainly looking forward to it.

So before I wrap up, a few favorite lines:

  • I remember being intrigued by the idea of school-in-a-box, just-add-water-and-Sam.
  • You’re like a song I heard when I was a little kid but forgot I knew until I heard it again.”
  • I turned down the heat — Sam had it set to hell — and shoved my backpack down by my feet.

I purchased my copy of Shiver at the Book Depository!
The Book Depository

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  3 Responses to “Novel Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater”

  1. I thought this novel was quite lovely :) However, I seem to be having quite a bit of trouble getting into Linger – possibly because it simply seems to be a repeat of Shiver, with Sam and Grace switched around :(

    I think that Ms. Stiefvater meant for Sam to come off that way … he’s a sweet guy who’s very much in touch with his emotions … an artsy sort and very shy … so he’s okay to fade into the background while Grace takes the lead. I quite liked that, it was certainly a welcome change from every other *ALPHA* mail I’ve been reading about! :)

    Have a lovely week xx

  2. I also like books that are atypical of what’s out there. For instance, Charlaine’s Sookie Stackhouse series is like that. If a male interest was a Alpha male before Sookie hooks up with him, he’s not one by the time she’s finished. :) It works. I like it. I think the aggressive stance Grace took would have gone better if there was more insight to why she was so aggressive (at least sexually). Her assertive-aggressive manner in other areas were more apparent–she was protective of Sam. I got that.

    Then again, sometimes we do things and don’t really know why other than that’s just what we want to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid, teen, or adult. But real life is different from fiction. Everyone’s not in your head in reality. Whereas the MC head is an open book in fiction.

    I guess the real thing for me is that it never explored why she was so intent on having sex. Curiosity? Hormones? The next natural step? Overwhelming urge? Challenge? To me it was presented more on the lines of: I’ve got girl parts; you’ve got boy parts. Let’s make a connection. Okay good. We’ve done that. What’s next?

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