Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

Title:  Shiver
Author:  Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher:  Scholastic
Pages:  400
Genre:  Paranormal Fantasy
Themes:  First Love, Werewolves, Family
Age Level:  9th Grade and Up

Summary (from School Library Journal): 
Grace, 17, loves the peace and tranquility of the woods behind her home. It is here during the cold winter months that she gets to see her wolf—the one with the yellow eyes. Grace is sure that he saved her from an attack by other wolves when she was nine. Over the ensuing years he has returned each season, watching her with those haunting eyes as if longing for something to happen. When a teen is killed by wolves, a hunting party decides to retaliate. Grace races through the woods and discovers a wounded boy shivering on her back porch. One look at his yellow eyes and she knows that this is her wolf in human form. Fate has finally brought Sam and Grace together, and as their love grows and intensifies, so does the reality of what awaits them. It is only a matter of time before the winter cold changes him back into a wolf, and this time he might stay that way forever.

I will admit it-I got completely sucked into the whole Twilight phenomenon.  The writing is only mediocre, and I only really liked about half of the characters, but the story sucked me in and wouldn't let go until I had read every, single, solitary word.  (I even read The Host, which I actually thought was a better story, and  better written.) Once I awoke from my Twilight-induced haze, and started blogging, I realized how many Twilight clones there are out there.  Most of them didn't really interest me much, but the one that popped up over and over was Shiver

As paranormal romances go, this one is pretty good.  It is well written, with believable characters and dialogue.  The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Grace and Sam, which makes the plot structure a bit different than other novels written for teens.  Both of the main characters are well-developed, but even the minor characters feel fairly fleshed out.

What makes this book stand out for me in the genre, though, is that Grace is not an awkward, indecisive girl.  She is independent, sure of herself as much as a 17 year old can be, and shows a strength of conviction.  Sam, as the poetry-loving, damaged 18 year old is a bit more stereotypical in his post-modern, post-feminist masculinity, but his inherent honor and decency feel authentic.  I think that this book, while not worthy of direct teaching, would make a good addition to a classroom library or reader's workshop setting.

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