Series: Unearthly #2
Official Summary: For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn’t prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought
Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.
[Spoilers for the first book in the series, Unearthly]
Unearthly captivated me with its strong plot, real romance, and beautiful depiction of angels. At the time I wrote my review, I called it “the best paranormal romance I have read.” Unfortunately, Hallowed floundered and failed to live up to the expectations Hand had built for me. In the acknowledgements she writes that “This book was like riding a bucking bronco to write,” and I am unconvinced that she managed to get it completely under control.
At the beginning, the writing itself is somewhat rocky—and this was the first aspect of the novel I thought of when I read Hand’s statement. She appears to have had some difficulty getting back into the swing of writing. Clara’s voice does not sound real to me here, and she seems painfully awkward even interacting with close friends, making a number of flat jokes that I do not remember being part of her personality from Unearthly. Things eventually get smoothed out, but I had to power through several hundred pages to see it happen.
There is also something of a dearth of plot. At the end of Unearthly, Clara believes she has been unsuccessful in fulfilling her purpose. In Hallowed, she mopes about it. This is a very contemplative and explanatory novel, rather than an action-filled one. Clara essentially walks around pondering whether she did fail in her purpose, what that means, what she should do about it, etc. These are all important questions, but the exploration could be a little more interesting. The book seems to be in as much of a rut as Clara. If she did miss her purpose, well what? Is that just it? Life goes on? Ok.
The romance is almost worse. The love triangle is taken to such an extreme that Clara has few romantic moments with either Tucker or Christian. Mostly, she agonizes. She wonders whether she should be with one or the other, who she is supposed to love. This feels very author-contrived to me, a ploy to make the “suspense” last throughout the trilogy. Personally, I would have loved to see more of why Clara likes either boy. Christian does get a few more chances to prove his worth here, but there is still the idea of his being Clara’s purpose that makes the romance ring a little false, at least to me. If Clara does end up with Christian, she needs to fall in love with him a little more in Boundless, and not just with the idea of him.
Essentially, I found Hallowed very slow. In many places, it was just filling in necessary information about the world of angels or being actual filler to tide readers over until the third book. I was dying to read Hallowed after I finished Unearthly. Right now, I feel I can wait for the paperback of Boundless. A fine book, but not a gripping one.
Has the series changed? Or have my personal reading tastes changed? Let me know what you thought of Hallowed in the comments!
Published: January 2012
Goodreads: The Art of Wishing
Series: The Art of Wishing #1
He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life.
Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie’s ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn’t know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else’s hands?
But Oliver is more than just a genie — he’s also a sophomore at Margo’s high school, and he’s on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.
A whole lot more.
[This review contains slight spoilers. It discusses some of the questions Margo raises about her relationship with Oliver.]
The Art of Wishing is a fun story that explores the age-old questions of: What would you do if you had a genie? What would you ask for? The answers here, of course, are not entirely straightforward, which is what makes following Margo’s struggle with them so entertaining. She goes a little deeper than most people world, first questioning genies’ attitudes towards granting wishes. Is it slavery or something they enjoy? Then she has the problem of deciding what to ask for. Ribar weaves a delicate system of “genie rules” to background her story, and discovering them along with Margo keeps reading interesting.
The writing itself is also engaging. Margo has a fantastically realistic voice, as well as a realistic outlook on life. Through Margo, Ribar manages to poke a bit of fun at the paranormal romance genre in which she has set her debut, as well as fictional romances in general. Are you skeptical that Margo can love a boy she met a week ago? Well, so is Margo.
Although I do find most of Margo’s comments on these subjects both clever and amusing, I hold some reservations. Authors of paranormal romance are noticing some of what many readers see as the major issues of the genre. One, for example, being the huge age difference between the teen girl protagonist and her supernatural love interest. Why would he of so much life experience be interested in her? Margo asks this, too. But—there is not much of an answer. For me, the fact that authors are beginning to raise these issues, imply it is true they are issues, and laugh at them a bit, is not enough. There is a difference between mentioning a problem, saying, “Yeah, you are freakishly older than I am. How weird!” and managing to write a plot or explanation that actually fixes the problem. The Art of Wishing is certainly not alone in this technique, but I would love to see YA authors strive further and actually work some issues out.
Romantic issues aside, the plot is a lot of fun. It is combination fantasy, action, romance, and serious teen issues. Tense moments are followed by touching ones, which are followed by funny ones. I laughed out loud more than once while reading this book. I was also seriously surprised and horrified by some of the plot twists. No obvious foreshadowing or cookie cutter plot here!
Overall, The Art of Wishing is a cute and fun read that takes itself just seriously enough. It is entertaining, but it has a bit of substance to it, as well. A great debut from someone who obviously knows YA writing.
Publication Date: March 21, 2013
If you were granted three wishes, what would you wish for?
Series: The Violet Eden Chapters #1
Goodreads Summary: It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”
Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.
Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.
A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…
Review: Embrace is an exciting, solid paranormal romance. It has a ton of the expected elements: a girl who finds out she’s not quite human, her disbelieving reaction, the people who want to help her believe, and the dangerous events that prove it’s all true. Luckily, Shirvington has packaged them all in good writing and made her main characters quite attractive (in both personalities and looks).
All things considered, Embrace should be read for the romance more than anything else. More than once, the explanations of how the magic works in this book had me laughing out loud; it was slightly ridiculous. The angel/religious themes could also have been better. So far, I think Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly has tackled this best. In Embrace, readers learn that some religious stuff is sort of true and some isn’t and there is some stuff no one really knows about—including angels. So there could be a God and there could not be. Only the highest angels actually know. The effect is confusing and almost wishy-washy.
The action is pretty intense, but this is a case where the protagonist actually invents most of it by being overly dramatic (i.e. If Violet were a reasonable person who didn’t overreact every time someone did something, there would be a lot less plot.) Hopefully the drama is out of Violet’s system now, however, so that the second book can feature her acting on good instincts, and some outside forces acting more strongly.
BUT the romance is good. Violet has a choice of two guys, and Embrace is a novel in which there truly seems to be a choice; she is not obviously drawn to one far more than to the other. Both also have a ton of good qualities, so readers can be torn, thinking Violet could really be happy with either one. (The down side is, of course, that one girl spending equal amounts of time flirting with and kissing two different guys means it can feel as if she is cheating or leading someone on. Hazards of a love triangle.)
Again, this is a solid paranormal romance, and certainly one that is better written than many. It is not unique, but it will be satisfying for those who like the genre.
Published: March 6, 2012
Goodreads: Black City
Series: Black City #1
Goodreads Summary: A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.
In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
Review: Black City has an attention-grabbing premise. It is set in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world where Darklings (*coughvampirescough*) are segregated from humans because of their race. The two main characters, obviously, must first recognize their prejudices and then work to overcome the injustices and cruelty enacted by the government of their world. Deep themes and some kick-ass action? It sounds like the ultimate YA read. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver, and generally gives the impression of Twlight in a more interesting setting.
One major parallel between Twilight and Black City is the problematic romance. It is insta-love. There is a love triangle (albeit an unbelievable one). Ash is not as good of a boyfriend as Natalie blindly believes. The first two statements barely need elaboration. The third will need some defense.
(Minor spoilers in this paragraph about their relationship.) Ash is a drug dealer. That alone should send Natalie running. Instead, however, she rationalizes and defends it. She states that she is willing to accept the bad of Ash’s character with his good because she loves him. Now, recognizing that your boyfriend is human (er, half-human) and therefore flawed is one thing, a good thing. Expecting perfection is also bad for relationships. Yet suggesting he need not change major bad habits is dangerous. Couples, recognizing that neither of them is perfect, should help each other to become the best people they can be, instead of excusing negative qualities entirely. Natalie is setting a poor example for teens. Also, in case this was unclear, Ash deals drugs!
(Minor spoilers in this paragraph about their relationship). If that is not enough, Ash is sort of a cheater. He sees one other girl, recognizes he has a physical attraction to her, and is ready to run to her. How…endearing? Richards seems to be attempting to portray some inner struggle that Ash endures (which is clear once you read the book), but she fails. Ash does not struggle. He never tries to push the other girl away at all, but instead welcomes her touch in the name of “discovering which girl he is really attracted to.” It seems to be his opinion that your soul mate is whichever person you have the best time kissing, with her personality being irrelevant. This philosophy gets in the way of my personal interpretation of Ash’s being a kind person and a good boyfriend.
Black City also suffers from the quality of its writing. Individual sentences are fine; Richards clearly does have a wonderful command of the English writing. The overall construction of the novel, however, is flawed. Richards attempts to cram a lot of action into Black City—but very little of it is particularly exciting. In the first place, nothing unexpected happens. Even minor details click into place exactly the way a reader would envision them. There is not an excessive amount of foreshadowing that enables readers to predict plot events, but once plot events do occur, the immediate reaction is not surprise but a shrugged Yeah, that would happen. Secondly, so much happens that none of it is given the time it deserves in build-up, event, or aftermath. In Chapter 17 alone I made note of a sudden romance, a sudden fight, and a sudden death. This was anomaly in that usually each “major” occurrence—such as a dramatic rift between friends—lasts for one or two whole chapters.
The world behind all this events does not fare much better. Black City sounds like a fascinating place, but its history is unclear. To start, whether this novel is set in a future version of our world or in some alternate universe where there is also a United (Sentry) States is unclear. (In Nameless by Lili St. Crow, for example, there are vampiric creatures who suddenly appeared in what was previously our world. The same could be true of Black City, but it is a mystery.) Next, the history of the Darklings is underdeveloped. Readers do learn that the enforced segregation is very recent, having occurred during Natalie’s lifetime. But how did Darklings and humans live together before then? Richards implies it was fairly peaceful—but then later states that if segregation were to end, Darklings would need to find a way to eat besides drugging and feeding on humans. I dislike sounding as if I would be on the racist government’s side in this novel, but if the modus operandi for Darklings had always been to attack, drug, and drain humans, I understand their dislike and fear. In minor details, the word “fragg” as a curse can be annoying (I dislike invented profanity in general, so no offense to Black City), and the fact that Ash’s fangs tend to throb whenever he is angry or amorous is funny and maybe unnecessary. The parallel drawn to male genitals here made me mildly uncomfortable, especially for something that served little purpose.
I dislike having to write such a negative for Black City. I very honestly believed it had potential, first from the summary and second from the fact that Penguin had decided to publish it even though the vampire trend is very close to dead. I trust editors, and they clearly see something special and innovative about Black City. In the end, I just did not see it, too. However, there are a lot of very positive reviews for this book, and if paranormal romance and vampires is something you as a reader really love, this book could work for you. If you like Twilight, especially, I think this has many of the same characteristics—but better.
Published: November 13, 2012
Goodreads: The Treachery of Beautiful Things
Goodreads Summary: A darkly compelling mix of romance, fairy tale, and suspense from a new voice in teen fiction
The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she’s lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack’s help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some of the most treacherous evils, and she’s faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice–and not just her own.
Review: The beginning of this story leaves a bit to be desired. My notes on it are basically scattered words to the effect of “weird,” “ridiculous names,” and “wow.” Essentially, I thought it was a little cheesy. And, really, the main character “shines with innocence?” That just made me laugh.
But I am glad I continued.
Quickly enough, I became truly captivated by the main characters. Jenny is obstinate, but it makes her endearing rather than annoying. She is absolutely determined to rescue her brother, and no man and no strange land is going to stand in her way. She’s brilliant. Jack is more complicated. Is he good? Is he bad? Does he truly care for Jenny or is he just playing for his own rewards? The constant questioning of his loyalty was really tugging at my heartstrings, and in fact was almost too stressful for something I was reading for fun, but it did keep me on the edge of my seat! This is a case where you will be pretty sure you know what is going on, but you will never want to bet on it. There is true suspense.
The world itself is also intriguing. It is (you guessed it!) both beautiful and treacherous. But, actually, it is. No need to worry that the title exaggerates! And although Long draws heavily on folklore, I found my very general knowledge of her sources was enough to give me grounding in the book. I have no idea if other YA books use these elements “better,” but they work here.
The plot, after the slightly silly beginning, is truly exciting. In addition to the ever-looming question of who is on whose side, there is simply a lot of action, a lot of running, and a lot of plotting. And it is worth noting that there is a climax truly deserving of the name. Yeah, things go down.
The ending is a little neat, but after the trauma of the preceding pages, I personally would not want it any other way. It makes me happy to think that things might finally fit together in Jenny’s life, my life, the world at large. Long brings an idealized fairytale ending to a fairytale that had previously been bleak. So, readers get the best of both worlds, and that is satisfying.
Published: August 16, 2012
Goodreads: The Iron King
Series: The Iron Fey #1
Source: free ebook from Kagawa’s website
Goodreads Summary: Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
Review: I have noticed that lately the reviews I am writing approach the book in a chronological order: I felt this way about the beginning, this way about the middle, and this way about the end. This is an approach that English professors tend not to like. In some way, it can over-simplify things. But I find it a useful approach for some reviews, where I want my readers to understand my progression of emotions towards the book, just in case someone else has the same journey. A book that seems mediocre in the beginning can become good later on, and it would be a shame for someone who might ultimately enjoy it to DNF it in the opening chapters. The Iron King is one such book.
There is little I like about the beginning at all. The writing here is unremarkable and the story bordering on stereotypical. Meg is an under-appreciated teen with an attitude, whom for some reason I am supposed to adore in spite of (because of?) her grating personality. However, the fact that her stepfather—and essentially everyone else—literally forgets her existence is too overstated to excite my sympathy. And I can never side with the “normal” kids who need to throw lame insults at the “popular” ones in order to bolster their own confidence. Calling a girl “inflate-a-boob Angie” is not witty; it is mean and makes Meg no better than the shallow students she is supposedly setting herself against.
I almost set The Iron King down here because it dawned on me that both the story and the style sounded like something I could find on FictionPress. It was not particularly good, and I had only believed it was as good as I had because I knew it was a bestseller, that everyone loves it, and that I was supposed to believe it was good. I had a sudden revelation that, really, it was not.
This opinion lasted about to the time Meg enters Nevernever.
Here, the stereotypes begin to float away. Kagawa even explains why people always forget Meg in a way that mostly soothed my ruffled feathers. My only interpretation is that Kagawa writes fantasy better than she writes contemporary fiction.
I still have the problem that I did while reading The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long; I have not read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and I am unfamiliar with all the folklore this story is based on. Nonetheless, to my uneducated senses, Kagawa seems to utilize her source material well, creating a fairy world that is equal parts beauty and danger, though the danger in Long’s interpretation seems greater. Kagawa’s best creation, however, is the iron fey themselves, who come as a fantastic and timely surprise. She does run the risk of overdoing them, but their invention is spot-on.
Ultimately, however, The Iron King is a romance, a fairly sexy one, in fact. And, ultimately, it is really cute. Meg and Ash do not really know each other, and the love triangle that is coming in book two can be smelled a mile away, but these are issues that can be easily resolved before the end of the series. For now, readers can just have fun watching the tension and attraction. I have to assume this is the primary draw of the story, since the plot is a fairly generic travelling quest.
I gave The Iron King three stars on Goodreads. It is solid, romantic, and fun. It has several elements I thought were fantastic. After all the hype, however, I found it a bit overrated. I recommend it for readers looking for a light, fun romance. Personally, I think I will pursue the rest of the series, but not as a priority.
Goodreads: A Temptation of Angels
Goodreads Summary: Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance
When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world’s past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.
Michelle Zink masterfully weaves historical fantasy with paranormal romance to create a gripping tale of love and betrayal.
Review: The cover makes this story look dark and therefore not necessarily my type of read—but I was pleasantly surprised. That is not to say the story is light—there is murder, pain, distrust, and a host of other truly “dark” things that our protagonist must face, not to mention the fact that the fate of the world is at stake—but the end result is very readable and filled with just enough hope.
The book does not draw as much on the angels as it possibly could. What we see is that there are two forces working against each other, the good angels and the fallen angels. Their powers are obviously superhuman, but not always skills or characteristics that are particularly angelic. This in no way is a flaw, however, as the fight of good vs. evil is always a good story, regardless of the species of the players.
And this fight is wrapped up in a nice standalone package—something that is sometimes a true blessing with all the series that are out there. This means that the action and the romance (which is very sweet) move a little faster than some of us are getting used to (things actually have to happen in a single book!), but it works very well within its own timeline.
The one drawback of the book is the protagonist. Generally, she is a nice blend of someone who is vulnerable because a lot of new and strange things are being revealed to her quickly and someone who is willing to take care of herself. Unfortunately, she is also one of those protagonists who insist on doing things their way and going everywhere they are told not to go. Doing so a couple of times makes her look independent. Doing it all the time makes her look stupid because she never learns to take good advice when she hears it.
A Temptation of Angels is a great read for those who enjoy action, romance, and paranormal that is not cheesy.
Published: March 20, 2012
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Series: Unearthly #1
Summary: At age fourteen, Clare Gardner learned she was part angel. Now, a few years later, she is beginning to discover what her purpose is. Visions of a boy in a forest fire lead her family to Wyoming, where Clare hopes to befriend the boy and train so she can save him. The other kids at her high school, however, are not entirely willing to accept her—except for one, who might be more of a distraction to Clare than a help.
Review: Unearthly is the best paranormal romance I have read. Clara is an almost perfect protagonist. Being partially dorky but also pretty and a little bit popular makes her real and relateable. She has teenage problems and sometimes freaks out, but does so without being annoying. She is not quite a kick-ass heroine, but she is strong in her own quiet, steady way, and it is very inspiring.
Of course, Clara is not just a normal teenager—she is also part angel. Hand portrays the paranormal mix in Clara well, as she feels drawn to her purpose and strives to be a good person so her wings can stay white, but she is not perfect and not at all preachy. Being angelic is almost something she is supposed to achieve with effort and respect, not something that was thrust upon her so she is just cooler than all humans. The concept of full angels is presented equally well. They come across as strong and pure without seeming ridiculous or impossible, strong without seeming only supernatural and not divine. Hand has captured the essence of her paranormal creatures in skilled, beautiful, and knowledgeable way that few other authors can claim.
The romance is also a very strong aspect of the book. There is no “instalove” to be found here. Sometimes there is a love triangle, but sometimes there is not. Basically, Clara is drawn to different characteristics in different boys, just as any teenager could be, so the triangle seems like a real and plausible occurrence, not something the author forced upon readers for more “excitement.” The love between Clara and the boy she finally chooses grows naturally and slowly, and when they finally come together the moment is truly beautiful. As a bonus, Clara is able to experience it in a unique way because she is part angel. More such moments are sure to come in the sequel.
The plot also will continue because (miracle!) there is a valid plot in Unearthly. Clara is supposed to puzzle out what her purpose on Earth is, and then train so she can fulfill it. In addition to the fact that this is simply a lovely thought, the concept is very engaging. Watching Clara trying to figure it out is a bit like watching a mystery unfold—full of suspense with just a touch of action and maybe some more romance on the side. Some logic seems to fail other characters when it comes to Clara’s purpose (Apparently if she does anything else except meditate on her purpose she is utterly doomed to failure!), but it was not a major flaw. And by the end of the book just enough questions are left open to keep readers wishing for Hallowed without leaving them completely baffled or dead from too much suspense.
Anyone looking for a romance with beauty and substance instead of characters kissing each other just because they can will want to pick up Unearthly soon.
Published: January 2011
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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.