Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

My Rating: <3

I've heard so many people say they love this book. I tend to love fantasy or paranormal romance. And I've heard a lot of praise for Maggie's technique as a writer. So to say I was interested in checking out Shiver would be an understatement.

I had also heard some people say that they could not get into Shiver. The writing alienated them. The way that the relationship between Grace and Sam was developed ranged anywhere from illogical to the point of being disruptive to their suspension of relief, to downright creepy.

I really hoped I would be in group #1. I do not select books that I think I am going to hate. (That would be cruel.) But unfortunately, Shiver just really wasn't my kind of book at all. Let me tell you why...

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)

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.

First up: I'm with those who found way too much here that wanted to mess with my suspension of disbelief. As a little girl, Grace is nearly eaten by wolves. Our hero sits there while this is happening, rather then immediately doing something about it. (I don't care that he was a wolf at the time. My reaction is the same regardless: Ew!) And after surviving said traumatic experience thanks to said wolf, Grace becomes completely obsessed with him. (She refers to him as "her wolf". This happens from the absolute beginning of the book. This is before she has any idea that he is not an animal. I'll let you interpret *that* as you will, but for me it was very icky.) 

The plot to this book moved agonizingly slow. Pages of text were devoted to building up the bond between grace and "her wolf". It got no better once she discovered the truth about him, either. Hello? He turns into a creature that has previously tried to eat you and you were 100% gung-ho to let him crash in your bed? Really? Can we say "too stupid to live"? Obviously Grace doesn't get eaten because of making this lousy decision, but still... The whole sense of chemistry between them seemed fake and off kilter because of how "3, 2, 1, love!* the actions of the characters showed it to be.

The Characters:

Grace was annoying. Everything in life totally and completely evolved around her wolf / Sam. I realize that when someone is falling in love that it can feel like the rest of the world is slipping away and that you and the object of your affection can feel like the only things that truly exist in the entire universe. Alas, it did not make for good reading here. Grace's obsession made her seem selfish and cold to me. It also made me feel that I wouldn't blame her friends and family for thinking she has a few screws lose. And, yet again, I just can't buy that she would become so obsessed with one of the creatures that tried to eat her. (Yes, I know. He saved her. But still... Ugh.) 

Sam didn't really seem to have a lot of pep or personality. I found him extremely unmemorable and I could not form any sort of attachment to him. Newsflash: you want me to love your hero. Now I do realize that this is subjective and I am certainly not saying that no one else will like him, etc. But he just didn't click for me, and since the romance between Grace and Sam was so vital to Shiver that was a serious problem.

The rest of the characters blended together. Her parents, who both seemed to pretty much be off in their own little world. Her friends, who she pretty much thought were horrible when they could not understand how "important" her wolf was... (Grace, honey... Your friends are just being *normal*.) Isabelle, who is so "mean" because she wants the wolves -- whom she believed killer her brother -- to be dealt with so it would not happen again. I'm not going to go down a whole list, but I think you get the gist of what I'm saying here.

The Romance:

I could not buy into this. At all. And that's saying something, because I love stories about destined couples or soulmates, so this should not have been an issue for me. Unfortunately, I think this is really a case where things that happened at the start of the book (pacing issues, character issues, etc.) impacted my mood for the whole thing. I will admire that this is not terribly fair, but that is what happened and my objective here is only to be honest. 

The actions that Grace took both before and after she learned the truth about Sam didn't gel with me. The fact that Sam, who clearly hates being a wolf, wished that the bites Grace received had made her change did nothing to endear him to me, either. (And for that matter ... If getting bit by a wolf is suppose to make that person end up in the same situation, it irritates me that the rules for Grace were different. When someone is "special" in a story that should make them face a plot issue, not allow them to escape it.) 

In General:

This book was not for me. Clearly, there is no denying that fact. The actual writing quality was good. It was the story itself that my issues were with. For some reason I am more likely to be forgiving of a book if the problem goes the other way around. Did you ever have to eat something for breakfast before school as a kid when your brain wasn't thinking about food yet? Oatmeal, for example? And then sat there, swishing it around in the bowl and hoping it would look like you'd made some of it disappear? That's how progression for me through this book was. 

But that does not mean Shiver will necessarily be that way for you. Lots of people love it, so it's just as likely that you might enjoy it. This is a book where I would strongly recommend that you read my review carefully and consider whether the things that irritated me are things that might irritate you or not. Because my issues with Shiver were definitely very personal and likely will not apply to everybody. If you read this review and feel strongly inclined to disagree with me, be my guest and grab this up. But if I had to give a recommendation here, I'd say this is best borrowed from a library or Shiver loving friend. 


  1. Aww sorry you couldn't get into this one. I enjoyed the series - it wasn't perfect but I still found it ok. Grace was annoying at first though she gets better as the series moves on. Great review though :)

    Xpresso Reads

  2. At least theres someone else out there that didn't care for this one. I didn't even get past 50 pages before putting this one down. I still don't understand how this book got so popular in the first place. It probably has something to do with the "book that shall not be named". Great post!

  3. I actually really liked this book, but I can understand why other people didn't. And while I didn't love the rest of the series as much as this one, one of the points you raised (and a very valid one) is addressed in the sequel. However, I read this when it first came out, and I was very into paranormal romance at that point, whereas now I'm very picky about it, so I'm not sure I would have liked it as much if I'd waited to read it.

    Good review though! I love reviews that take the time to discuss what didn't work and this one is nice and thoughtful.

  4. I'm so with you on this one. I thought I would fall in love with this series, but in the end I kept laughing. Like snickers. Some of it was just so funny that I couldn't help it. I know that some of the moments in the book were suppose to be serious, but I just couldn't buy into them and therefore, I laughed.

    The only thing that kept in me interested was the character Shelby. I loved her. The whole wanting to be alpha wolf and her story was just fascinating to me.

    I wish that the author did something different with the book. I like her writing, and I liked how she transformed the myth of werewolves, I just didn't like the story line.

    I also reviewed this book too:

    Just in case you're interested. :)


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