I found Shiver a bit slow to start with, but when it does you’re pretty much sucked in; although most of the book is mainly concerning Sam and Grace’s romance, and the actual plot doesn’t kick in until very late on in the book and could have been better exploited. The thing that I liked most was the unique take on the werewolves – humans only turn into wolves when it gets cold, and eventually stop turning back, remaining wolves until they die. The main plot, aside from the romance, concerned the last part of the wolf problem – Sam, for plot device reasons, is in his last year of remaining human whereas most werewolves have a great many more years than he has continuing to be human. He knows he can’t hide from the cold forever, and that when it hits him he’s going to have to say goodbye to Grace for much longer; and so occurs a frantic race against the weather to discover if there is anyway at all to keep Sam human.
Although I was slightly confused as to why there were there at first, I liked the temperature readings at the start of each chapter, which give you an idea on how close Sam is to shifting, although it made for a bit of a dodgy timeline. Shiver was quite reminiscent of Twilight, but to be honest I’d be more shocked if the opposite were the case. I really didn’t like the nonsensical ‘poetic’ lyrics that Sam kept coming out with, but that may be because I’m not exactly poetry’s biggest fan, although they are pretty bad. Also, Sam tends to sound remarkably female at times, which isn’t helped by the fact that both his and Grace’s perspectives read virtually the same.
Grace was a bit disturbing with how obsessed she was with the wolves – they tried to eat her, and yes, Sam saved her at the very last minute, but when a local boy is killed by them, she is furious that they are being hunted and killed; she didn’t care for Jack at all, dismissing him because he seems a bit of a jerk, even though it is apparent his father beat him, yet she risks her life to save wolves. Wolves. Wolves that tried to eat her. She also pretty much abandons her friends when it turns out that ‘her’ wolf is actually a human, which I really didn’t like about her, but other than that she was ok as a character, though she could have been developed further.
I think Isabelle was my favourite character, and I was very surprised by how much I grew to like her, though the vast majority of characters aren’t explored or developed, the most prominent of these being Grace. I really didn’t get why Grace’s parents were so neglectful of her, and it was a thinly veiled plot device which really annoyed me. A lot of things were left unexplained, so I’m hoping for explanations in the sequels, like exactly how the werewolves came to be.
The best thing about Shiver was Stiefvater’s writing, even if there was a lot of purple prose – I will definitely be checking more of her out, as well as perusing Linger as I’m very interested to see where Sam and Grace’s story will head.
[SYNOPSIS: Grace is fascinated by the wolves in the woods behind her house; one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. Every winter, she watches him but every summer, he disappears. Sam leads two lives. In winter he stays in the frozen woods, with the protection of the pack. In summer, he has a few precious months to be human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again. When Grace and Sam finally meet they realize they can't bear to be apart. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human - or risk losing himself, and Grace, for ever.]