Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1
Summary: Grace loves the wolves she always sees in the woods behind her house during the wintertime. But when Jack Culpeper, a boy from her school, is attacked by the wolves, the town of Mercy Falls begins to arm themselves against them. Grace’s favorite wolf is shot and transforms into a boy on her deck. The two work to unravel the mystery of Jack’s disappearance and try to build a relationship before their time together runs out.
Review: I normally avoid paranormal romances, but all the reviews extolling how haunting, achingly beautiful, and lyrical this book is persuaded me it might be worth reading. I was wrong. Shiver manifests all the flaws that make paranormal romance an artistically bereft and sometimes disturbing genre.
The book opens melodramatically, with Grace lying in the snow surrounded by wolves, calmly awaiting her death. Her complete apathy toward the situation is concerning, and she never really does abandon the attitude that life is not particularly valuable. The problems with her character only escalate after her recovery. She soon develops an obsession with the wolves who were trying to kill her, standing in her backyard for hours watching them and thinking summers are worthless because the wolves are not around. She even develops an intense crush on a particular wolf, which is disconcerting because at this point she has no idea that he is a werewolf. She is in love with an animal.
Once Sam transforms back into a human (no surprise here), the two instantly are in love. In wolf form, he had apparently fallen in love with her, as well. They immediately begin making out and become boyfriend and girlfriend. There is absolutely no build-up to this romance, and their relationship never gets any deeper as the book progresses. They make out a lot more and gush about how much they mean to each other and how they want to be together forever. Grace even decides that school, her family, and her friends are now worthless because her “real” life is with Sam. Grace is not as overtly annoying as Bella from Twilight, but she is an equally terrible role model when it comes to romance.
Other than the continual gushing, nothing much happens in Shiver. Stiefvater throws in a very loose plot about Jack, whom Grace and the readers immediately suspect has been bitten (again, this is hardly a spoiler). Because he does not seem to have found the werewolf pack, Sam and Grace go around town looking for him because he is supposedly dangerous. However, it never seems as if he is as much of a threat as the two say and their search never seems particularly pressing; even they waste time they had set aside to track him down in order to take romantic walks in golden woods and other such activities.
I began reading the book with the expectation that it was primarily a romance, so I tried my best to ignore the lack of plot. However, Grace and Sam are not particularly romantic because there is no foundation to their relationship. They are just weirdly obsessed with each other. Sam throws in a couple nice comments about wanting “to do things right,” and randomly composes song lyrics in his head, but nothing about their relationship is really convincing. Shiver can best be summarized as boring, gooey, and occasionally creepy if you actually think about what is happening.