Shiver Review

Friday, July 25, 2014 

Right, so just finished this book right here: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm sitting curled up with my blanket at almost 1AM still confused with how I feel about it. I gave it a 3/5 on Goodreads, because that's how much I was left lingering with questionable doubts and feelings. Let me start off by saying that I had high expectations for this book (like I mentioned in my Goodreads review). I mean it has a 3.80 rating and the majority of people I follow on Goodreads gave it 5 stars. So I'm thinking, "Ok, awesome. Werewolves + Paranormal= Right Up My Alley. But I didn't quite get that.

If you don't know what the book is about I'm going to copy and paste some of the short summary that I quickly wrote on Goodreads. Basically you have dual narrators, Sam and Grace. Sam is a werewolf who was bitten when he was ~7-years-old and since then can only switch back to his human self in the summer, as the hot temperature makes him more stable that way. During the rest of the year he's stuck in his wolf form, especially in winter, as the cold temperature makes the animal part of him more prominent. So, temperature regulates the transformation between being a human and wolf. Grace is just a regular 17-year-old who coincidentally was bit when she was very young as well by a pack of werewolves outside her house, but survives the event. She remembers Sam's yellow eyes ever since her near death encounter and for the next six years (up until she's 17) they have this weird romance thing going on, where she is constantly on the lookout and seemingly obsessed with "her" werewolf. Likewise, Sam lingers in the forest behind her house in his werewolf form looking after her all these years until one night when things begin to unfold and he finally approaches her in his human form.

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead, if you have not read the book do not read on!

Now, with all of that you would think that this book has potential- and it does, don't get me wrong! The writing was pleasantly good, it was not bad for being YA, but it's the connection to the characters with the overall plot line that fell flat for me. I just didn't see many of the details and coincidences adding up. For example, how is it that after almost dying by being ravaged by werewolves Grace is just super nonchalant about everything? Clearly, the girl has issues that she's repressed, and are mildly referenced but then just cut short at that. It seems to me as though she was alright with being dragged off into the snow and prodded by wolves, and for being ~11-years-old something must have been going on for you to just wait for death and look at the winter sky while animals tear you apart. This doesn't  even get explained or delved into further for some background reinforcement.

And while Grace is getting supposedly mangled by these wolves she makes eye contact with a pair of yellow eyes, and this is Sam's introduction. I understand him saving her but then she spends six years of her life (they both do) trading longing glances back and forth through the dense trees that make up the forest in Grace's backyard. And then all of a sudden through everything that happens Sam switches back to being human and they finally connect. At that point I was confused, primarily because from then on it's as though they rekindled this love they've had for a long time, even though there was no build-up on this. Furtive eye glances to each other, especially when the other person is a wolf, does not count as love at first sight to me, or as a reason to immediately begin dating and allowing someone to sleep on your bed. Besides, as the author explains through Sam's narration, when he's a wolf he doesn't really remember anything- the wolf instinct takes over. So, how is it that Sam and Grace just instantly fall for each other when they've hardly just met? Sam repeats throughout the book that he doesn't want Grace to think he's more infatuated with her for no reason, and I'm thinking "Yeah buddy, you both kind of are." No real conversations have ever been had before but long-distance glancing for six years implies a deep connection. I just didn't buy it.

I'm just saying that there could have been more details and time being taken to develop this relationship instead of "I've been making googly eyes at you, and this makes you my one true love" sort of situation. It just reminds me of Twilight all over again. And while I was a huge fangirl and constantly refreshed Stephenie Meyer's website, I grew up and realized that sure Twilight was amazing to read when I was younger but really reflecting back on it, it was completely flawed and vapid. I do like that this book doesn't position Grace as a damsel in distress and getting constantly hurt or injured with Sam swooping in and rescuing her. At least she's made out to be a strong-willed, and highly independent character who is actually the one saving Sam all the time. So props to you Grace! The whole parent situation in Shiver reminded me of Twilight too. I mean, Grace's parents were never home. And if they were it was as though she barely existed, plus they didn't share any of the same interests as Grace, so in a way it made it ok for them to be absent because they just didn't "click." Same thing with Bella and her dad, was all I was thinking and look where that got her- lots of late night secret sleepovers with Edward, which happened with Sam and Grace. Hey, I'm not saying that's always a bad thing, but it's weird and not realistic. Pretty sure, no parent would let their 17-year-old alone, especially after finding out their dating.

We also get a lot of characters introduced but never further developed. For example, Rachel and Olivia. Sure, Olivia was given more character time towards the end, but not really. Half the book Grace is mad at her and then feels hurt because Olivia excluded her from some werewolf information. Pretty sure, Grace's friends aren't even properly introduced to Sam as her boyfriend (by the way, when did that happen? Oh, right when the love-eye encounter happened all those years). Shelby is also popped in the storyline but then we only see her again in the end when she's at the clinic, nothing else. And Sam's "father" figure, is discussed all throughout the book and then cops out at the end when he doesn't conveniently explain to Sam about the new werewolves, etc. It's just Twilight again with the two main characters revolving everything around themselves and other minor characters popping in and out when it's convenient. This is just another unconventional love story for teens, that sets unrealistic standards and gears towards a pre-destined set of events that are supposed to connect the two people together. No parents included, or friends really, just strong, passionate love that goes against all odds. I'm a sucker for love stories, but just not this kind.

Like I said, I'm not sure if it's all the expectations that I had for this book that were the ones that made me question and over-analyze everything as I read but it just didn't quite do it for me. I thought there were great storytelling aspects to the book and some really awesome descriptions and vocabulary for being Young Adult, but besides that I'm over the unrealistic love that was presented. You can't just make characters fall for each other based on that. And the ending, I don't even know what to say. I mean meningitis?! It just seemed far-fetched. I don't like over-criticizing a book but I was dissapointed and I'm not sure if I'm going to continue with this trilogy. I want to, because I started it but I'm on the fence. Maybe I'll get more closure with the second book and not judge it too harshly. Am I the only one with all these hard-pressed issues? Let me know!

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