Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

We here at Wordcandy admit it: we judge books by their covers. This doesn't always work for us (note our recent post on Atlas Shrugged), but we still believe that great cover art is an important tool for attracting new readers, so when we see a particularly eye-catching title we assume that the book in question is something the publisher really stands behind.

Maggie Stiefvater's novel Shiver has a gorgeous cover, although it features a more restrained style than most of the current crop of young-adult titles. As the icy colors and wolf silhouette on its cover imply, Shiver is a gothic romance, but one that goes surprisingly light on the ol' "pointless teenage yearning" vibe.

Attacked as a child by a starving wolf pack outside her rural Minnesota home, Grace has vague, dreamlike memories of a yellow-eyed wolf fighting to save her life. As the years pass, she catches glimpses of the wolf outside her house, and begins to suspect that her fascination is mutual. So when a local teen is killed by wolves and a group of hunters decide to eradicate the pack, Grace rushes to stop them—but when she finds a wounded, naked boy with yellow eyes shivering on her back porch, Grace discovers that the pack in the woods is even stranger than she realized.

Nearly all of the conflict in Shiver is external. Grace and her werewolf meet, fall in love, and proceed to get slapped around by fate, but they rarely question their feelings for each other. They're also just shy of perfect: intelligent, considerate, hardworking, and far more responsible than the adults in their lives. Stiefvater gives adequate explanations for these character traits, but such teenage paragons still strain credulity—not, perhaps, while one is immersed in the story, but definitely once the book is closed.

On the other hand, a successful romance between two such thoughtful, mature characters is more believable than one between, say, the protagonists of this series. (Or this one. Or this....) Shiver is one of the few YA titles we've encountered in the past few years that wasn't begging for a sequel. There's going to be one, naturally*, but by the end of Stiefvater's novel one feels that Grace and Sam have suffered enough, and a "happily-ever-after" ending would have been both well-deserved and totally plausible.

*Linger, due out this July. Why leave well enough alone, you know?

[Review copy provided by the publisher.]
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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