Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic: New York, 2009. 392 pp. ISBN 9780545123266

Ever since he saved her life a few years ago, Grace has been drawn to the handsome wolf who watches her from the woods.  If only they could be together somehow... 


When teenage Grace was a child, one of the wolves living in the woods bordering her house rescued her from the rest of his pack.  She found herself mesmerized by his beautiful yellow eyes during this rescue, and has watched him from her house in the years since.  The wolf in turn, has watched Grace.  One day an injured boy, Sam, appears outside Grace's house.  Grace comes to realize that Sam is none other than her wolf in human form, the wolf she has been hoping to get closer to for so long.  Elated to finally be together in the same form, Grace and Sam fall in love.  This is made a bit challenging, however, by having to hide Sam and the fact that he shapeshifts, from Grace's parents.  And the real problem is that Sam only gets to spend a few months each year in his original human form, and each year this amount of time decreases. This could be the last year he changes into human form at all...  This title is the first of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

One of the stand-out aspects of this book is the strength, self-reliance and resourcefulness of the character of Grace.  When the going gets tough, her inspiring "just dive in and and do it" attitude kicks in.  I also like the way in which Stiefvater includes the theme of forgiveness, through Sam's ultimately strong relationship with father-figure Beck despite his Sam's strong dislike of a couple things that Beck has done. I found the plot to be a tad slow-moving at first, but the introduction of the character of Isabel and her initial questioning of Grace really creates a sense of intrigue as we initially don't know what Isabel's true motives are, and also because she and Grace are such seeming opposites.  I usually enjoy audiobooks, but in this case I would recommend sticking with the written text.  Portions of the audio version (Scholastic Audiobooks, 2009) are read slightly overdramatically.  But I do recommend this novel as a good fantasy read with some great suspense.  What some may find controversial is the fact that Grace and Sam have sexual intercourse, although no graphic details are included.

I think this book will help teens whose parents are absent due to late working hours or are simply not at home very much.  Such teens may identify with Grace.  Teens who have survived abuse at the hands of their parents, or whose parents have done ethically questionable things, may identify with Sam. Sam experiences the first at the hands of his birth parents, and then is "adopted" by Beck who has inducted members into the wolf pack in a morally questionable way.

I always like books with dual narrators, because it allows you to get two often very different perspectives on the same story.

No comments:

Post a Comment