Let me just say upfront that I am not a big fan of that newest and hottest of YA genres, paranormal romance. I really have no interest in reading about vampires and werewolves; I haven’t even read the Twilight books. So, I was in no hurry to read Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, a novel about a teen girl who has a special relationship with one of the wolves who lives in the woods near her home and who is sometimes in the form of a teen boy. The plot just didn’t appeal to me, but I kept reading reviews, from people whose opinions I respect, who said it was an excellent, well-written, engaging book. So, I gave it a try (finally)…and I’m so glad that I did!
I was pleasantly surprised by Shiver. I had no problem suspending belief in this group of teens and young adults who spend part of their lives as wolves, and I immediately liked Grace, the girl who feels such a connection to the wolves. Grace was only eleven years old when the pack of starving wolves pulled her off the tire swing in her backyard and dragged her into the woods:
One wolf prodded his nose into my hand and against my cheek, casting a shadow across my face. His yellow eyes looked into mine while the other wolves jerked me this way and that.I held onto those eyes for as long as I could. Yellow. And, up close, flecked brilliantly with every shade of gold and hazel. I didn’t want him to look away, and he didn’t. I wanted to reach out and grab a hold of his ruff, but my hands stayed curled on my chest, my hands frozen to my bodyI couldn’t remember what it felt like to be warm.Then he was gone, and without him, the other wolves closed in, too close, suffocating. Something seemed to flutter in my chest.There was no sun; there was no light. I was dying. I couldn’t remember what the sky looked like.But I didn’t die. I was lost to a sea of cold, and then I was reborn into a world of warmth.I remember this: his yellow eyes.I thought I’d never see them again.
The wolf with the yellow eyes is Sam, and he feels that same undeniable connection to Grace that she feels to him. Sam spends part of every year as a teen boy and the rest as a wolf, among a pack of similarly afflicted humans/wolves. Sam and Grace fall in love, and Sam wants desperately to find a way to remain human so that he can be with Grace forever, but that seems impossible. At the same time, events in their town put the entire wolf pack at risk.
Despite my initial reluctance, I was pulled into Shiver right from the first chapter and found it hard to put down. It is a romance at its heart, but it also contains elements of suspense and adventure that kept me turning the pages. This is one of those books with such wide appeal it that transcends its genre. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Linger, and find out what happens next in Grace and Sam’s lives.
390 pages, Scholastic Press
If you want to learn more about the Wolves of Mercy Falls series - or just can't get enough of it! - check out Maggie Stiefvater's website and blog, where I just learned that the film rights have been purchased.
(You can also read my reviews of Linger and Forever, the second and third books in the trilogy.)