Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

   Title: Shiver
   Series: Mercy Falls, Book 1
   Author: Maggie Stiefvater

   Publisher: Scholastic Press
   Year Published: 2009
   Pages: 390

“I could still smell her on my fur. It clung to me, a memory of another world.

I was drunk with it, with the scent of her. I'd got too close.

The smell of summer on her skin, the half-recalled cadence of her voice, the sensation of her fingers on my fur. Every bit of me sang with the memory of her closeness.

Too close. I couldn't stay away.

Shiver is hardly a new book, and I've seen it around for a while, knowing it was quite popular, but I never quite seemed to get to it. This week, however, while getting to know the new batch of year 7 readers, one girl borrowed the last in the trilogy and talked to me about how much she had enjoyed it. That was all the prompting I needed to tick this one off my list.

Shiver is the first book in a trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater. It is a love story between a girl named Grace and a boy named Sam - but Sam is no ordinary boy. Every year, during winter with the temperature drops, Sam becomes a wolf. A wolf among a pack of wolves who live in the forest behind Grace's house. The very same pack that attacked Grace when she was a little girl. This is a story about growing up, about love, about danger, and about sacrifice.

fanart by connorose

Grace is seventeen years old, very practical and responsible. She looks after herself, her family, and her friends. She likes numbers and things that make sense. Sam, on the other hand, is dreamy and creative. Eighteen years old, he has spent a large portion of his life shifting back and forth between being a wolf and a human. He likes music, and poetry, and above all, Grace.

I particularly enjoyed the way this story was told. These days, first person narratives that jump back and forth chapter to chapter between characters are very much the norm. But unlike some other YA romances in this format, the voices where clear and and distinctive, even when the pattern of changes shifted. (To be fair, I did listen to an audiobook which made this impossible to miss, but I still feel the characters were clearly separated).

fanart by finncollins

I found Stiefvater quite lyrical in her writing, very fond of descriptive passages romanticised imagery. That being said, overall the novel wasn't overly sappy or cheesy, due in no small part to the character of Grace being relatively practical and stoic. 

I would like to say this book was a must read, as I truly found it pleasant and, at places, even a beautiful novel - but it's not groundbreaking. At it's core it's a paranomal YA romance, like the many written at the same time. It is certainly well written, and has rounded enough characters that I'm quite happy to suggest it to a wide range of students at school, but it doesn't have anything all that new.

fanart by dearbrigan

Recommended Age Group:
I'll be steering to the 15+ crowd based on the age of the characters and some hints towards sex (though nothing at all graphic). It would be acceptable for mature readers a little younger if you felt they were capable. All the covers I've seen have been very girl oriented, but it has it's share of action and quite a believable male voice, so it might be worth extending a suggestion to some of the boys also.

Content Warnings:
- some mention of sex (not graphic or lewd)
- some violence
- trigger warning for suicide backstory

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