Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater


Title: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Rating: 4 Stars

With Stiefvater's The Dream Thieves releasing in less than a month, I've been slowly re-reading The Raven Boys and have, quite suddenly, realized something: Stiefvater's novels improve, tremendously, upon re-read. When I picked up Shiver last year, fresh from loving both The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys, I was skeptical that my luck had run out. And yet, last night, when I was gripped with the urge to re-visit the novel I had abandoned half-way through just a year ago, I knew I had to act on it. And am I glad I did.

Shiver is most definitely not a novel for everyone. In fact, I am in a rare position to claim that I can understand both sides of the coin, and perfectly. Last year, Shiver drew me in with its prose, but little else appealed to me. Grace and Sam's romance seemed too quick and flimsy, Grace's missing parents seemed too convenient, and the sweetness of the love story made me flinch. However, upon a closer - slower - re-read, I've come to realize that, against all odds, everything in this book works. It adds up and, like all Stiefvater's novels, is a rare and beautiful piece of fiction.

First and foremost, let me address the issue of the romance to quickly get it out of the way. Grace and Sam have, inadvertently, rescued each other six years ago without truly realizing it. Sam prevents his pack from killing Grace when she is dragged away into the woods and Grace forces Sam to recognize his humanity, deep within his bestial self. For six years, these two watch each other from the safe distance of trees and behind glass. Until, that is, Jack Culpeper is killed and in a rush to destroy the wolves, Sam is shot and turns up bleeding on Grace's back porch.

From the surface, Grace and Sam's relationship escalates very quickly from this moment on. After treating Sam in the hospital, he returns home with Grace, living with her and sleeping in her bed without her parents even realizing. Yet, what was invisible to me the first time I picked up this volume was the glaringly obvious factor that Grace and Sam have known each other for six years. Maybe not as boy and girl, but their knowledge of each other was based on something far more important: trust. Grace trusts Sam and Sam trusts Grace. Furthermore, they both recognize that they are obsessed with one another, but it's a pull they cannot resist. And, best of all, although their relationship is peppered with kisses, it slowly develops with honest dialogue.

Additionally, Grace's parents are an intriguing set of characters on their own. Sam describes them as being almost like college students who found a baby on their doorstep, and in many ways, they are. It's not uncommon for two self-centered individuals to raise a child. Grace is fiercely independent and many of her personality traits and flaws stem from her upbringing. Is it convenient? Certainly, but Stiefvater doesn't hesitate to address the issue nevertheless. Moreover, Grace does have an existence beyond Sam. Although her friends only truly come into play during the last third of the story, I felt as if her introverted nature and the acknowledgement that her relationship with her friends was slowly changing and growing apart was more than enough to make this a believable part of the tale.

Nevertheless, what made me love this novel so much more on my second read of it was the language and lore that Stiefvater has written. If you’ve read anything by Stiefvater before, then you’ll know what I mean when I say her words have the power to transport. Not only are they lyrical and lush, but they build her world in front of your eyes. I had to stay swathed in blankets while I read this, despite the hot summer sun directly outside. Even better, though, Stiefvater’s depiction of werewolves is far different from most and her exploration of their battle between humanity and wilderness was stunning. I felt the desperation of both Sam and Grace to keep their relationship intact with such a looming impediment in front of them and with such a heady rush of emotion, I was hard-pressed not to love this one.

I won’t deny the fact that Shiver has its flaws, but it was a story that became all too real for me while I read it. While the dual narration works perfectly in terms of the plot, there is no denying that, at times, it can be hard to distinguish Sam from Grace. Thus, I will not say that Shiver is a perfect novel. Nevertheless, this love story grew on me as the novel wore on. Will Sam and Grace’s romance win out over the course of time? Who knows, but they deserve the chance to try. For me, Shiver works perfectly as a stand-alone. I will admit to being terrified of what the sequel with bring, not to mention the conclusion which has received more than its fair share of mixed reviews, but I think it’s safe to say that I am hooked onto these books now. Stiefvater has become one of my favorite authors over the past year and while Shiver isn’t anywhere near as good as The Scorpio Races, it’s rather brilliant anyhow.

18 comments:

  1. I totally agree that this book is not just for everyone. When you get to look at and maybe try to explain to someone what's this book about they would say ah..that's typical or already seen, but in reality the writing here is something that makes this book much better than it initially sounds. I mean if she wrote her grocery list like this I'd enjoy it! Glad you enjoyed this one Keertana and I hope you'll enjoy the rest of this series :)

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  2. I'm so glad you decided to give Shiver another chance. It was the first book by Maggie I read so I saw it a bit differently. I guess I'd be just a touch less enthusiastic after the magic of The Scorpio Races.
    But this will always remain the book that made me fall in love with Maggie's writing. She really is something else, I admire everything she does.
    You're right about all the oddities of GRace and Sam's relationship working. In another book, I'd be severely annoyed, but here it all just fits together somehow.
    Gorgeous review.

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  3. This book is either a hit or miss, for sure. To be honest, I missed the boat with this series. I really, really didn't like it, and I thought it could have ended with the first book. In fact, I probably would have liked it more if it had. That said, I'm glad to see that you found its strengths and ended up enjoying it! Lovely review, Keertana :)

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  4. Interesting that you liked this one much better on the re-read Keertana! This was a series I just never quite got into, but I tried Shiver a long time ago way before I started the blog, so I wonder if I would like it better now. I did so love The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys, so I know I love her writing. Hmmm. Might have to conduct a little experiment!

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  5. I loved this story as well, Keertana! The language was beautiful without distracting from the flow or plot. I swooned over the romance between Sam and Grace! Such a quiet intensity they shared. I'm glad you gave this a second chance. Wonderful review. :). As much as I loved this story the sequels were not quite as good, IMO.

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  6. There are few books in my shelves that showed different sides upon re-reads but mostly, I don't re-read books that I've given up on to begin with. Maybe it's time I give them a chance.

    Very well written review!

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  7. Oh Keertana, you make me want to re-read this now! I didn't have a great experience with it the first time around (though I didn't particularly dislike it either), but after having read and loved both The Raven Boys and The Scorpio Races, I have to wonder if I, too, will be able to appreciate it more now. I do know what you mean about Maggie Stiefvater's writing, and although I had mixed thoughts about the romance overall, I loved her prose instantly. I think I might just have to give this whole trilogy another try one day. Lovely review as always! :)

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  8. I love that you tried the novel again with a completely different understanding than when you tried it first. Love the way you took us on your journey. Oh I so need to start up again with this series. I've only read this one and have the second on the tbr. Need to read the rest.

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  9. Everyone loves this series and agrees that it's writing is beautiful but i've never really felt like reading it. I read Maggie's The Raven Boys and did love it (after the slow beginning) so i am debating whether to read this one or not. Great review and i'm glad you liked it beter the second time around :) x
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

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  10. Everyone loves this series and agrees that it's writing is beautiful but i've never really felt like reading it. I read Maggie's The Raven Boys and did love it (after the slow beginning) so i am debating whether to read this one or not. Great review and i'm glad you liked it beter the second time around :) x
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

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  11. First of all, it's pretty impressive that you allowed yourself to go back and revisit a book that it sounds as though you really didn't enjoy the first time. It can be super difficult to devote the time and energy towards re-reading a book, especially given the drive to read more and more. And re-reading something you didn't love off the bat? I'm not sure I'd ever really do that. At least before now, but your review here is worth considering. It is wonderful that you didn't give up on this book, since it does sound like you found a lot to enjoy within it. I'm a bit over the paranormal romance genre myself, even taking into consideration all you said. Who knows, though? Maybe I will try to pick this up if I ever find myself within the right mood.

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  12. It makes me shivery happy that you loved this book on your second read. You actually make me want to re-read this book as well! I completely agree that Stiefvater's books just get richer and more wonderful the more you're inside of them. Her prose and ability to draw tension and emotion with the tiniest detail is divine. I love Sam and Grace so much! Lovely review.

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  13. KEERTANA, I finished reading FOREVER last night! Like you, I had my reservations about the sequels in the Shiver trilogy, but for me, the story got stronger with each installment – and more emotional too. Forever is my favorite, and Linger comes at a close second. I seriously never thought my love for this series could grow twofold after Shiver, but it did. The characters in this book are so very much alive! I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone wanting to start the series or for those who want to revisit it after a less than favorable first experience, but I just have to say, issues that arise in the first installment do get addressed later on. I’m especially referring to Grace’s oblivious parents and her independent upbringing. It’s exactly like you said, Keertana, in Stiefvater’s books, everything adds up, and it deepens as the story goes on. What kept me coming back was the beautiful prose, but even more, it was Sam's and Grace’s unique and heartfelt love story. I love this series very much, and I’m insanely happy after a second try, you’re on board too! If you enjoy Linger, come find me, Keertana! I’d love to gush over this series with you. :)

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  14. I'm glad that you decided to give Shiver another go Keertana and you ended up really enjoying it. I normally find it really difficult to go back to a book once I've put it down half way through, but good for you, for giving it another try! Although this book didn't work out for me as much as I'd hoped, I agree Stiefvater definitely has a beautiful way with words! Gorgeous review as always Keertana!

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  15. You are totally making me want to go back and re-read this book too! Unlike you, I loved it the first time around but your review has me awnting to go back and experience Sam and Grace falling in love again. Their love was such a sweet innocent thing in this book:)

    And your review also reminded me about how much I disliked her parents. God, they were truly, truly terrible parents--the way they dismiss Grace is worse than physical abuse in some ways. I remember being SO angry with them after reading this book and series.

    But mostly I'd like to go back and experience Maggie's writing again. Shiver was the first book of her's I had read and I don't know that I really comprehended what an incredible writer she is at that time. Having now read 5 of her books--it would be interesting to go back and re-read the first one again:)

    Great review! I'm so glad you loved this series, K:)

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  16. I've read Shiver twice now as well and I have to agree with you; Sam and Grace's romance is most definitely not insta-love. They've known each other for so long, so the instant connection is understandable. On another note, Stiefvater's writing really did seem more lyrical the second time around. I love this series, and I'm happy to see you're a fan as well! Beautiful review as always :)

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  17. Ah this is making me want to try Shiver again. I won Shiver and Linger a few years back and I immediately began reading it. I didn't like the plot or even Stiefvater's writing (it was too....wordy for me) so I put it aside. You made some great points (especially about the romances-oh that romance) so I might give this one another try

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