Review: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

September 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Rating: 4 Stars

Normally I don’t enjoy multiple-POV novels, simply because I like discovering surprises from one person’s perspective but Shiver did a good job of it.

And look at that book cover! If you could describe the environmental setting where Shiver takes place, that book cover says it all.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is a supernatural teen romance fantasy story that has a very small scope in relation to its genre and centers on the story of Grace and Sam. Grace and Sam share a bond that was borne on a fateful day that Grace nearly loses her life and since then, Sam has been watching from the woods.

Spoilers under the Read More!

Don’t get me wrong, I usually love werewolf and shapechanger stories, simply because of the fact that they can explore human and animal dynamics, the metaphor of ‘shedding skin’ and baring yourself to the truth. Shiver was a little strange for me to read because the scope of the story is very limited; we don’t even get to know very many of the werewolves asides from Sam and Beck.

Grace as a protagonist was grueling for me because she didn’t display very many heroine-like personality traits. She is waif-like, curious and is held in thrall with the stunning yellow-eyed wolf she remembers on the day she got attacked in the woods. Lo and behold, the yellow-eyed wolf is Sam, her love interest and whom she shares an unspeakable bond with.

I’ve read other reviews that touch on the apparent notes of bestiality and many other reviews were repulsed by it, but to be honest it didn’t feel that way to me at all. Grace didn’t get the hots for rolling around with a wolf, she was more intrigued and beguiled by the constant presence of Sam in wolf form. I’m not sure where other readers got the hints that she was sexually attracted to wolves, but it never read that way to me at all.

The romance between Grace and Sam is slow and torturous. Very above-clothing sweet, very high-school shy but romantic all the same. The scene I liked best was when Sam and Grace are in the candy store and the cashier asks them how long they’d been together. Sam says “Six years” to which Grace adds “It was love at first sight”. Too cute.

There are sweet moments like these from Sam’s point of view:

“What do you eat?”
“Baby bunnies.” She narrowed her eyes, so I grinned and said, “Adult bunnies, too. I’m an equal-opportunity bunny-eater.”

Hah. Then there are heavier, more poignant moments in the book that questions how much you could really control your situation, how you have to deal with the lot you were dealt and making do – trying to cup water in your hands only to have the droplets drain through the cracks.

“I’d found heaven and grabbed it as tightly as I could, but it was unraveling, an insubstantial thread sliding between my fingers, too fine to hold.”

Writing-wise, Maggie did a great job with description. While I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but feel so damn cold all the time. It was as if the snow and the winter was seeping through the pages up my arms, it was that good. It was easy to envision the woods and the clearing that Sam and Grace kept meeting, almost like I were seeing a photograph rather than reading the words outright.

My only difficulty with the book, and the reason why it didn’t get 5 Stars is because it was written with multiple viewpoints: therefore the narrative voices of each persona should be different, no? You couldn’t tell the difference in tone of voice between Sam and Grace, they were too similar. Maybe it was a writing device that Maggie Stiefvater used to convey that Sam and Grace’s connection went beyond personality and right through to mentality, but I like to see that each character is different: that they each have something to bring to the table. I didn’t quite get that feeling while reading Shiver.

Overall, a good read. 3 Stars for the writing, 4 Stars for the story and plotline.


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