Book Review: Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater, begs comparisons to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, mainly in that it centers around a teenage romance between a young woman and a storybook creature (in this case, a werewolf).  Like Twilight, it’s also set in a small town, with clueless parents and other adults facilitating these teens having much more independence than any real-life teens I know.

A quick synopsis:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again. 
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Beyond the obvious similarities to Twilight, though, I think Shiver is different than Twilight in the most important ways.  First of all, the writing is SO much better.  It is as compulsively readable as Twilight, but instead of leaving an uncomfortably laughable aftertaste, Stiefvater’s lyrical prose brings a credible weight to the reading experience.  The storyline is also much more complex – the characters are given greater dimensions as you learn about their personal histories, and there are layers of story that add suspense and mystery and deeper emotion.

Speaking of emotion, I think the number one difference between Shiver and Twilight is that the love story between Grace and Sam seems much more earnest.  It’s not nearly as over-the-top, and there seems like a real investment of affection, and not just a random, nearly obsessive attraction.  There is still the uncomfortable matter of reading about teenage intimacy (I’m a mother of teens, and I prefer to remain happily ignorant about that, at least with my reading material), but Stiefvater handles that with great respect and a “less is more” approach in terms of details.

I truly enjoyed Shiver.  The writing is fantastic, the story is complex, the characters are diverse and compelling.  It was a lovely, solid read.  I was excited to learn that this is the first in a proposed trilogy, with the next novel – Linger – coming out next summer.  Movie rights for Shiver have also just been bought.

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