Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater seems to be the new “it” book of the moment. Perfect for cuddling up on a cold winter’s night it tells a story we’ve all heard before now – angsty teenager with immature parents falls in love with a boy who isn’t all that he seems. But if the book sounds like a Twilight knockoff, I can assure you that it doesn’t read like one. Shiver has a plot to hold it’s own that is intricately laid out in the pages of Grace and Sam’s little love story.
Here’s a quick description of the book from people better at book descriptions than me:
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.
This book came strongly recommended to me by fellow book lover Vivienne so I was looking forward to diving into this love story… until my husband read it and despite enjoying most of the book, disliked the ending so much it ruined the whole book for him. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it and I kind of wish I’d been able to read it with no expectations whatsoever, but here’s my opinion as best I can explain it…
For the most part, like my husband, I enjoyed this book although I must confess that I had a hard time ignoring the age of main characters Sam and Grace. What I mean to say is that, while reading Twilight for the most part I was able to lose myself enough in the story that I could either truly remember being a teenager or I was able to ignore the fact that they were “only teenagers.” Not so with Shiver. I constantly found myself rolling my eyes at the seriousness with which Sam and Grace took their relationship. I tried giving them the benefit of the doubt, but… but… but… I was very aware of how young they were – but I do remember being a teenager. I know I was the same way in a lot of regards. Everything feels heightened and more important when you are young – everything is forever and always until it’s not.
I guess what I’m really saying is that I never really got that fully lost in the story feeling. I was always there as the voice of reality to kind of ruin it all for myself. My fault or the authors? Not sure.
And then there’s the ending… which Vivienne calls “breath taking” and my husband calls … a long string of profanity. I have to admit… it confused me. Even now sitting here I don’t really understand it. I won’t give anything away to future readers of the book, but yeah… it kind of wraps it up without really wrapping it up and left me feeling unsatisfied and uneasy. What the heck happened, Maggie? Dan compares it his old high school english assignments. His teacher always told him that he’d have a great story but then run out of steam at the end and just sort of peter out. But this seemed less like petering out and more like… confusing. I just didn’t understand.
I get the impression that it’s exactly the ending the author wanted either because she likes making her readers confused or because she’s leaving it open for a second book perhaps… and of course there’s the chance that my husband and I are having a dumb moment and missed something obvious – but when you combine my lack of being able to immerse myself in the story and the unclear ending… it did kind of leave a bad taste in my mouth that is unfortunate for such a promising book that was otherwise really good.
Good story – good plot – mostly well thought out. Nice details, lots of details and imagery (some might say too much). But… it does leave something to be desired. Still, if Stiefvater does write a second book, I’ll be in line to get my hands on it for sure.