Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 1, 2010
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Grace and Sam share a kinship so close they could be lovers or siblings. But they also share a problem. When the temperature slips towards freezing, Sam reverts to his wolf identity and must retreat into the woods to protect his pack. He worries that eventually his human side will fade away and he will be left howling alone at the lonely moon. A stirring supernatural teen romance.
I’d heard the buzz about Shiver since late summer, although to be honest, it was always in the context of comparing it to Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight series, which I didn’t consider much of a compliment even if it came out on the positive end. Weak person that I am, I eventually was swayed by the prettiness of the trio of covers (Shiver, Linger and Forever) for the series and my growing interest in young adult fiction. I really could have just watched this. It would have had the same caloric value, had roughly the same number of characters and would have taken up less of my time.
The story begins when Grace was a young child, playing on her swing. A pack of wolves attacked her and dragged her away intent on eating her, but were stopped by a large wolf with yellow eyes. After that, each winter she would watch for her wolf with yellow eyes, leaving food outside. Fast forward to her senior year in high school, autumn. Grace and her friends are in a bookstore browsing and one of her friends who’s a photography freak wants to take a picture of a guy with strange yellow eyes that’s been staring at Grace. It’s Sam, who also happens to be her wolf, the one she’s been obsessed with ever since the day he saved her from the pack.
Stiefvater’s werewolf mythology is that the cold keeps the wolves in genuine wolf form. A bite can change a human (yes, Grace was bitten, no, she never changed – plot point for later on). When it warms up, they become human, but they have a sort of expiration date that varies from werewolf to werewolf. Some can continue to change back and forth for quite a few years and some can only do it for a shorter period before they finally just stay a wolf. Sam’s time is running low: he can tell because the slightest changes in temperature make him more susceptible to changing and it took him longer this year to become human.
Just a note: they live in Minnesota where it’s damn cold in the winter. Don’t ask why. Don’t ask why they don’t move south where it’s warm all year, don’t ask why just being warm year round doesn’t keep them from changing or why they can’t just sit in a toasty house all year and not go wolfie. The answer is, just because.
The story is told in alternating first person with the chapters labeled with their names to keep them straight. It really doesn’t matter much, because Grace and Sam spend most of their time limply gazing at each other and being emo about their impending fate. Grace gives impassioned speeches about how she’s not going to let Sam go and says they’ll figure something out then pretty much does nothing but have some mind-numbing chatter with her annoying friends or do some navel gazing. Sam drives around a lot. He seems to like Grace’s truck because if he isn’t in her shower, he’s in her truck. He spends some time in her bed, but I’m thinking he’d been neutered in a pack challenge at some point because this 18 year old boy kept gently turning down all sexual advances by this girl he loved because it didn’t feel right, even though he knew this would be the last year he’d get to see her as a human. Was he going to come back and hump her leg next year?
There are some angsty things beyond Grace and Sam here. Word leaks about the wolves, someone Sam trusted does something unthinkable and there’s a nutty wolf that pees on Grace’s porch because she thinks Sam’s hers. The problem is, they’re all seen a little distantly, without any real urgency. I never got the impression that anyone was in danger. Instead of being really pissed at his friend, Sam was just rather sad and disgusted. Instead of being frightened by the peeing wolf, Grace was confused (like she didn’t know what it meant – this from the girl who loves wolves?).
Lest you think I’m cold-hearted, I’ll admit this was still a very sweet romance, even if it was kind of mopey and there’s a hazy, dreamy quality over the entire story that I forgave for occasionally making my eyes glaze over. I like the concept of twu wuv and if two people ever needed someone to take care of them it was these two. I suppose Stiefvater had to think of a way to get Grace’s parents out of the picture, so she made them so utterly, painfully oblivious to her presence, it’s a wonder someone never called CPS. As for Sam, I’m guessing up until Grace, he lived with his creepy mentor, but I keep getting an image of this place looking like a puppy mill with all of the foster wolves coming in and out. His pack didn’t seem very nice either, but there was a complete lack of information about them. He was supposed to be some sort of alpha or alpha in training, but heaven help them if he’s the tough guy.
My Summary: I’m not sounding like I liked this, am I? I did, in a way. It’s like cotton candy, which is somewhere on my top 20 list of sweet stuff I’ll knock an old lady over for. It was nice and yummy while you were eating it, but when you were done, all you were left with was the aftertaste and an empty stomach. There was nothing in here to make me care about the pack or want to learn about its workings; it didn’t really seem like it had any. While I was reading Shiver, I thought it was a given that I’d pick up Linger, but a few days later, I crossed it off my to-buy list. I can live without more emo.
My Rating: C+