Ever since I heard Shiver will debut at number nine on the New York Times bestsellers list, Ive had reviewers block. Yes, it is an unsavory cousin of writers block, but worse somehow. Because Maggie Stiefvater has written a beautiful, touching, amazing book, and I feel less than worthy to sum it all up a few paragraphs, much less in a neat little reviewers package.
But Ill try.
Shiver has two first-person narrators, Sam and Grace. Grace watches the wolves in the woods behind her house every winter. She has a favorite, a yellow-eyed wolf. He watches back.
Sam lives two lives; during the winter hes a wolf, while he spends his summers as a human. And hes been in love with Grace for quite a while.
Maggie Stiefvater wastes no time in throwing her reader into the deep end of Sam and Graces complicated relationship. We know the obstacle that has to be overcome almost immediately. We feel the insurmountable pressure of how will they ever overcome this problem. Yet the reader doesnt feel shorted by knowing too much too soon - more grateful that we have the freedom to sink into the life and depth and emotion that Maggie magically infuses into every page, every paragraph, every sentence.
Her sensory images seduce you into the story. Set aside some time. Shiver is one of those rare works of art youd continue reading if your house were burning down around your ears, because if its not happening on the page, its not happening in real life. Its a book youll carry around emotionally for weeks after youre done reading. Two visuals come to mind that will always haunt me. One of a mother who seems to be more proud of the paint smears on her arms that identify her as an artist than she is of her daughter. The other, frozen tear tracks on a childs face, and a parent finally choosing to be a parent.
Youll fall head-over-heels in love with these characters. And then youll wish they were real so you could have them over for dinner.
People will compare Shiver to other wildly popular books in this genre. I think if that makes people read Shiver, great. But if you are one who doesnt care for other wildly popular books in this genre, you should still read Shiver.
Grace and Sam have so much depth, so many levels, and luckily, so much more to say. (Insert plug and plea for advance reader copies for books two and three here.) A caution, Shiver does involve (closed door) werewolf nookie.
Most highest of high recommendations.