Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shiver


Shiver is a YA paranormal novel, the first in a trilogy, that has received a lot of attention - written by Maggie Stiefvater.

When Grace was young she was pulled from the tire swing in her backyard into the cold, snowy woods behind her house by a wolf. She survived the attack, despite the numerous wolves biting and pulling on her small form. In fact, one of the wolves saved her - one with startlingly yellow eyes. To this day she can't remember how exactly he saved her, but every winter she stares out at the wolf - her wolf - and he always stares back. Her obsession is all-consuming.

Sam lives two lives. Every summer he is himself, a regular teenage guy with a part-time job and a love of reading poetry. But when winter comes he is a wolf, losing his human thoughts, but trying desperately to hold onto his humanity. It is in these cold times that he watches her. Grace. For six years he has only ever stood at a distance... but things are about to change.

When Grace and Sam finally speak - face to face, human to human - there is a love that has been held in those years of gazing, those years of secrets, that becomes known, and therefore unavoidable. But Sam has to fight to stay human and Grace has to fight to keep him, before it is too late and he is a wolf forever...

I had heard about Shiver and seen it in the blogosphere since it came out and have always wanted a chance to read it. I've always loved the cover, and when I found out the font has a matching blue color I loved it even more! But that is all appearances, which matter of course, but not as much as what is actually in the book. Which was...

Stunning, electric, charged chapters that hypnotized me with their lyrical and enigmatic words. Shiver is almost magical in its intensity. Author Maggie Stiefvater pulls you into Grace's psyche, to the point where you are as drawn to the wolves as she is. I was amazed at how instant this effect was on me, the bibliomaniac.

My particular reading tastes always tend to favor fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal - and that certainly enhanced, I'm sure, my experience of Shiver. But I find it hard to believe that many bibliophiles could deny the exquisitely magnetic, heavily atmospheric, and incredible tone the novel evokes.

Shiver is suspenseful, mysterious, and even a little creepy as the book progresses. Early on it appeared to have the addictive quality of Twilight, especially with the element of impossible love, infatuation without a chance - obstacles in every direction.

Both Sam's and Grace's narrative voices are unique, and spotlighted as the viewpoints of the novel are switched back and forth between them. You get a good feeling of their individuality - Sam imagining lyrics in his mind to help him deal with situations that he can't handle, Grace who is voluntarily secluded, yet strong and independent - though at points I did feel like Shiver was lacking in any actual plot advancement.

How wrong I was.

But I do have to be honest here and let you know, my beloved readers, that there was a good bit of time in the middle of Shiver that I was losing my confidence in it. I began to feel that Grace lacked identification with the reader, and that though it was easy to relate to her love of reading (duh), her character felt a little disconnected. I was becoming disenchanted with what had begun as a spectacular tale and was turning into a lukewarm romance.

HOWEVER, as more is revealed as to why Sam is haunted by his childhood, beyond the inevitable fracturing of it caused by his condition, Shiver took on a darker and more starkly realistic tone. Even with this, I still felt at times that I was only going to really like Shiver, not love it. Something seemed to be missing, and there were points when I felt the novel came across as false. But the potential and creative writing kept me hanging in there until - BOOM! - my love returned.

Sam's painful past and horrifying memories caused me to feel deeply for him, and as my doubts about Grace fell away, I began to give in to what Shiver is: blissfully romantic without being mushy, sexy without going too far, undeniably gripping, and enthralling up to the euphoria-inducing end!!!

Maggie Stiefvater caused Shiver to refrain from being a "werewolf book", but instead made it an amazing, absorbing, captivating mythological-like tale of desperation, fragility, healing and love. My misgivings were merely faint memories in the wake of such crashing beauty. Wow.

And as I closed the book and set it down beside me, full of book-love, I was (dare I say it?) shivering for the next book in the series Linger. Thank goodness I had a copy ready and available immediately.

I know I'm a bit late to the game here, but if you are too - you honestly need to jump on the bandwagon!

Special Note: Remember to check out the Bibliophile Support Group before you go out partying on Friday! There will be an EXTRA SPECIAL New Years Eve post - highlighting the stand out books of 2010! Mark it on your calendar!

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