Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1)
Probably inspired by the success of Twilight, this novel tells the story of two star-crossed lovers, this time a teenage girl and the yellow-eyed wolf/boy that saved her life when she was a child. Every time the weather heats up, Sam changes from human to wolf; eventually, he will stop reverting to his human form. Each chapter begins with the temperature, building suspense.
Something I really appreciated about this novel was that the narration. The chapters alternate between Grace and Sam's points of view. Don't we all wish we knew what Edward was thinking in Twilight? With Sam, we understand and begin to love him for it. I also really enjoyed that the couple got physical fairly early in the book. Four novels in the Twilight saga was just a really long wait!
There are some definite flaws in the narration. Grace's relationship with her friends isn't realistic. The explanation for why Grace didn't become a wolf was ludicrous (how could an eleven year old get locked in a car?) and the novel dragged a bit at the end (although that may have been because I wanted to know what happened immediately). Still, I am looking forward to reading Linger, the sequel.
The cover is beautiful.
Shiver is a beautifully written story about the bonds of family, friendship and love...and the lengths one would go to in order to save those most important to us. It's written in a way that allows the reader to feel as if you're inside the characters heads instead of on the sidelines watching something unfold.
The story focuses on Grace and Sam, and their small town of Minnesota. They've both watched each other from a distance over the years but don't actually meet until they're teenagers. Grace has always loved the wolves who frequent the woods in her backyard, especially the one with the yellow eyes. Her parents are flighty and all but ignore her so she feels most at home with "her" wolves and spends many a lonely night listening to the sound of their soft howling as they lull her to sleep.
As a result of her parents neglect (let's call a spade a spade here) she's constructed some pretty good walls (also pretty funny) and uses sarcasm as a self defense. She does have two good friends, Olivia and Rachel who love and accept her and Olivia even shares Grace's passion for the wolves. Rachel, while good intentioned, seems pretty lost in "Rachelworld" most of the time.
Sam, who has secretly loved Grace for years but never had the nerve to talk to her, is a gentle and sweet guy, a hopeless romantic, but he's also strong, and fiercely protective. (He's also easy on the eyes which never hurts.) He's always striving to do the right thing or make the right choice because he knows he has more than just himself to consider. He's not your typical teenage guy and when you learn how different he could've turned out (his parents won't win any awards either), you can't help but love him. *sigh*
Did I mention there's romance in this story? No? Well, there is. The kind that will make your heart race, your blood pressure rise and have you reaching for something to fan yourself with. Ready to read it yet? You should be. No pressure though...
I have to mention Isabel who is the resident "Mean Girl" but I actually LOVED her! (not because of her meanness though...you can stop judging me now.) She's fiesty, witty and unrelenting in her efforts to help her brother. I laughed out loud many times (much to the chagrin of the other parents at swimming) when she showed up. She was hilarious in her retorts but we were also given a glimpse of her vulnerability behind the veneer that she puts ups.
As with most stories, you can't have the summer without the winter, love without loss. But thankfully, this is Book 1 of a trilogy so it's on to "Linger" (Book 2).
If I could make one small change to Shiver, it would be to the cover...I think the wolf on the over needs to have yellow eyes. :)
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.
Maggie sure knows the world of Mercy Falls. The descriptions of nature were amazing. You get the feeling it’s cold and the stillness of forest captures your attention. Melancholic and really magical if you ask me. If I could associate this trilogy to an artist it wold be Lana Del Rey. Her songs encourage you to feel not just listen.
Grace is girl who lives with her parents but they aren’t usually around so she is very independent and knows how to take care of herself. There was this thing I didn’t like about the book and that was the fact she could sneak Sam in her room without her parents checking up on her. I get it, they aren’t around but I find it hard to believe they don’t enter her room at least one a day.
Sam is a werewolf who falls in love with Grace and he is desperately trying to stay human even though the cold is making him change into wolf. He reads a lot, plays the guitar and writes poetry. Basically he is an old soul. He reminds me a little of Jem from The Infernal Devices.
Even though this book is obviously beautiful I didn’t fall in love with it. The main reason for this is the relationship between Sam and Grace. They get together too quickly. I like a good chase before characters settle down and start to date. I usually complain how there isn’t enough romance in paranormal books but this one had plenty, I just didn’t connect with it.
Also I wanted to quit several times because I felt nothing was happening. But I am glad I stick to it and I liked it very much in the end. The last few lines made the book so much better
At about forty percent through Shiver, I was ready to put it away. I was bored, lacked interest in the plot, and couldn’t really follow the romance. However, because I’m stubborn I kept reading hoping it would get better. And unlike what normally happens when I assume such a thing, it did.
I loved the last half of this book, and I don’t know why. The entire first half I spent time being uneasy and bored, but around the halfway mark I started to feel myself rooting for Sam and Grace. Their romance fell into an easy rhythm that was much more believable, I enjoyed the story lines, and I actually was eager to know what happened next. The writing, which had been beautiful from the very beginning, hooked me even more. When Grace and/or Sam felt sad, I felt sad. When they had a victory, I celebrated too. Somehow, I became attached to the characters. I also really enjoyed Sam’s exploration of his humanity and how he wanted to stay Sam, in contrast to his wolfish nature. It’s a really great look at what it means to keep your own humanity.
At the last half of the book, all the things that make this story unique really stand out. Maggie Stiefvater is a really beautiful writer. She writes sentences that make me want to curl up next to the window and listen to someone speak her sentences all day. I really appreciated the characters of Sam and Grace, and how they’re not your typical romantic leads. Grace is the practical, less emotional one, whereas Sam is an artists at heart, creating songs and poems in his head during every moment.
In the end, though, I’m perplexed what to rate/how to recommend this book. The last half was really stunning and I was completely captivated, but the first half was a little strange and made me uneasy at times. Ultimately, I think this is a worthwhile book that really establishes Stiefvater as a wonderful writer, and I’ll definitely pick up some of her other books(I’ve heard only good things about The Raven Boys), but I’m not sure I’ll be revisiting this book.
Final Impression: Beautifully written, but the beginning with Grace’s obsession with the wolfs was a little too unhealthy for me. I loved the second half, though, and despite my misgivings I ended up falling in love with the characters. I’ll average my review into around a 3/5 stars, but I would say that while I absolutely loved the ending, this book is definitely not for those who don’t like slow-paced stories.
I really liked Jack and Isobel. Although, I could have done without Olivia and Rachel. They both annoyed me. I'm interested to see what happens with Olivia in the next book.
Grace's parents frustrated me to no end. To me, those aren't parents.
I love alternating POV's so I'm glad I got to read into both their minds. I liked getting lost in the world of Mercy Falls and seeing through Sam's wolf eyes.
Maggie Stiefvater’s "Shiver" is the perfect example of such tension. There are multiple things I love about the wolves Stiefvater presents in the first book of her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. First, these guys don’t turn into crazy feral beasts of lore. Instead they just turn into regular ol’ wolves. That makes them that much sexier that they become a beautiful part of nature as opposed to something that is trying to destroy life.
Next, these guys ain’t trying to get up all in people’s business. They don’t have any beef with vampires, they’re just trying to lead their own wolfy lives. Furthermore, in sort of a twist in the werewolf genre, the Mercy Falls wolf pack in particular is trying to find a way to live in a world full of bloodthirsty humans who want nothing more than to see wolves dead. Who says werewolves have to be the bad guy?
Ultimately, what I love the most about the werewolves of "Shiver" is that Jacob Black doesn’t live among them. That’s because where Jacob roams Bella Swan is soon to follow and she is my least favorite literary character of all time. Stiefvater’s Grace is so much more headstrong and likable and it’s no wonder she can cruise just fine with a pack of wolves.
A heroine who is not nearly as whiny as Bella Swan.