Shiver–Maggie Stiefvater

Book: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
392 pages (Hardcover)
My Rating:
3h stars

As a child, Grace was brutally attacked by wolves. She only remembers seeing a wolf with mysterious yellow eyes as she lapsed from consciousness. Over the years she watches this same wolf with amber eyes watching her from the woods. She feels drawn to him and has a real connection with him. Sam enters Grace’s life in the waning warm months of the year. He also has amber eyes and Grace immediately knows that there is more to Sam than most people think.

Rikki from The Bookkeeper and I decided to do a read-a-long together because I am not big on romance books and am trying to open myself up to different genres. She suggested Shiver because she hadn’t read it either and we have both heard good things about it. My review below will include some SPOILER type discussion so if you are interested in the book and don’t want to know anything about it, I would navigate away at this point.

Shiver has created a lot of dialogue between some of my book blogging friends and I. I found it enjoyable, but I also found that something was lacking for me. The writing had a distant quality to it, so connecting with the characters was actually quite difficult. I felt like even they felt like they were on the outside looking in on their own lives. I wonder if Maggie Stiefvater intentionally wrote the book this way or if this is just her writing style. Either way, it didn’t necessarily hamper my enjoyment of the book, but it was something that I noticed throughout the book. The chapters are divided into Grace and Sam point of view chapters

There is something about teen romance that I find problematic. I don’t know if things have changed that much since I was a teenager in the 90’s, but I feel like the YA books I’ve read to date are much more mature in teen language regarding romance and sex. For example, when Sam and Grace are having a “romantic” moment, Sam growls and Grace says:

‘That was so sexy,’ she said, voice uneven. ‘I didn’t think you could get any sexier.’

I find dialogue like this problematic between teens because as a teenager I frankly would have been too awkward to say something so bold to a boy. I also get uncomfortable reading scenes that include sex between teens (although I know in some books there is a sociological importance to confronting the issue) because frankly it makes me feel like a peeper in a inappropriate private moment between underage people. Can’t teens find something more constructive to do than fall into bed with each other? I know it’s just the reality of things, but I sometimes feel like sex between underage people is encouraged now. I was a teen in the time when it started being normalized, but we were introduced to the perils of it as well including teen pregnancy and STDs (which were both all too common at my high school). I feel like all forms of media now make teen sexuality less taboo than it probably should be. In this respect, I think Shiver is not alone in romanticizing teen sex rather than showing it for what it really usually ends up with—heartbroken young people who often make poor choices and give a part of themselves to someone.

However, this being said, I do think that Shiver dealt with parental neglect in a way that Twilight did not. There was actually discussion about the absentee parents Grace had to live with whereas in Twilight it was more taken for granted that Bella came from a neglectful home. Sam did confront Grace about her parents behavior and it was clear that she was hurt by them not being a major part of her life.

[Sam] ‘Does it bother you? That your parents are the way they are?’…[Grace] ’Why can’t I make them love me any more than they do?’…[Sam] ‘Grace, they love you. It’s not about you. It’s their problem.’ [Grace] ‘I’ve tried so hard. I never get into trouble. I always do my homework. I cook their damn meals, when they’re home, which is never—‘…”

Grace’s pain is tangible and real and is something that many teens deal with. I was glad for this discussion since essentially she was shacking up with Sam for a good deal of the book and her parents were none the wiser. I thought it gave a better understanding to her humanity and her desire to be loved. People might argue that Grace should not find her love and identity in a boy, but I think this is part of the human condition so I actually applauded this portion of the book because it is a situation I could see happening. However, I wonder how teens would deal with a passage like this. Are they mature enough to see that they don’t actually have to find their identity in a boy and that the fairy tale romance is not usually something that occurs?

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I will read Linger (the second book in the series) at some point in the future, but the disconnected feeling of the writing kept me from thinking this was a really good read. I also didn’t care for the song lyrics and poetry recitation in the book. What it boils down to is that I’m truly not a romantic for the most part. I think I would think it was corny if someone sang to me or recited a poem for me. I’m going to own that unromantic side of my personality. It may work really well for others though so if you enjoy those heartfelt declarations then Sam Roth is definitely a loveable male character. I definitely recommend Shiver as discussion material for teens and adults. I found that in the end it was definitely a worthwhile read because of the dialogue it created for me and my friends.

Links of Interest
Rikki at The Bookkeeper – Shiver Update #1
Rikki at The Bookkeeper's full Shiver Review
Chachic's Review of Shiver
Iris from Iris on Books' Review of Shiver

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