Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) / My rating: ★★☆☆☆

One sentence summary: Grace is in love with a wolf boy, Sam, whom she finds human and wounded on her doorstep, and romance ensues as they try to find a way to keep him from turning back into a wolf.

It tore my heart out, because I heard his voice. The wolves sang slowly behind him, bittersweet harmony, but all I heard was Sam.

Genre: Young Adult/Romance/Fantasy

Plot: I kept waiting for this book to become exciting, but unfortunately it never really did. I I found it flat and predictable, and the characters couldn’t make up where the plot lacked. I could see what was coming around every corner, and the ending wasn’t much of a surprise. I also think the plot could have benefited from not focusing so many scenes on the romance alone, and the romance could have benefited from more build-up. A lot of the time, I was simply pushing forward to get to the action.

Characters: The main character, Grace, was headstrong and practical, not unlikable, but nothing about her really gripped my interest. Sam, her wolf, is softer, more artistic, and, unfortunately, quite dull. They were sweet, and I tried hard, but could not muster much interest in their romance, which might have had to do with its lack of build-up. I also found that the secondary characters suffered in surrendering so much screen time to Grace and Sam’s relationship. Grace’s best friend, Rachel, came off as a stereotypical peppy teen girl, and Grace’s other best friend, Olivia, felt severely underdeveloped for the size of the role she came to play in the plot. Sam’s pack was a bit more interesting, and if I had to choose any characters to get to know better, it would be them. I also liked Grace’s mom and enjoyed her interaction with Sam.

Writing: I will always love Steivfater’s writing. The descriptions are lovely and the prose is poetic. However, I didn’t find the first-person narrative to be particularly unique to the characters. The story is told from Grace and Sam’s point of views, and I didn’t think that either was significantly different from the other.  The dialogue, however, was my biggest gripe. I felt it came off as contrived, at times, particularly when characters were trying to be humorous, or the teens were speaking with “teenager-y” speech, which often came off as awkward. It just didn’t always flow.

Was I satisfied? No. Mostly, it simply bored me, to the point that when I came to the end of the book I started to skim because nothing was interesting, or surprising, enough to hold my attention. I felt no pull at all to continue onto the next book in the series, which, hopefully, develop the characters more thoroughly. It’s disappointing, because I love The Raven Cycle, which, in a comparison I can’t help making, are an improvement on Shiver in in every way.

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12 thoughts on “Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. I wasn’t overly impressed with ‘Shiver’ either. In fact its made me shy about reading any of her other books – and there is so much hype about I’m starting to get confused…
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I’m glad I’m not alone in my opinion 🙂

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    • Thanks for your comment!! I’d actually read Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle books first and absolutely love them, which is why I tried Shiver, and was shocked at how different the storytelling is and how much I didn’t care for it. But they’re just two very different series by the same person, I guess! If you like fantasy or paranormal, or just a story that’s kind of…different and odd, I’d definitely give the Raven Cycle a try.

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    • Thank you!! I think if you simply want a solid teen romance, this might be a good book to pick up, but I really can’t bring myself to recommend it. I find Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series significantly superior, and the thing is they’re SO different it almost shocks me that they’re by the same author. I think if you want something “safe,” Shiver’s not a bad book to pick up, but if you want something a bit more different and “out there,” the Raven Cycle is a lot more fun and interesting. I did watch an interview of Maggie Stiefvater recently where she said that she wrote the Shiver series because she wanted to write something that wasn’t complicated before she dove into the complexity that is the Raven Cycle, so I think that explains the difference. However I know she also has a standalone book called “The Scorpio Races” that people seem to really love, but I’ve never read it so I can’t say one way or another (though it is on my TBR list).

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  2. Excellent review! Every point you made is spot-on.

    I read this series during a massive reading slump–and I totally loved it. Loved it enough that I bought The Raven Boys in hardback pretty much the moment my local bookstore opened on publication day. But when I reread this series earlier this year, I found myself doing a lot of what you did: skimming, and wondering how anyone (including myself) could’ve thrown all the stars at it. I didn’t even finish rereading Forever.

    I’m so glad you reviewed it, and explained your viewpoint as clearly as you did; it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who had that experience! =)

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    • Thank you so much!! That’s so interesting that you loved it the first time, but not the second. But I’m glad you did enjoy them at one point anyhow! Did you enjoy The Raven Boys? I personally love The Raven Cycle, which is why I picked up this book in the first place. I do wonder if I would have liked this book more if The Raven Cycle books hadn’t given me such high expectations, character and plot-wise, but I still can’t see myself giving this book any more than 3 stars even if I hadn’t.

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      • That’s a great point–that TRC might’ve given you expectations for Stiefvater’s earlier works that they couldn’t meet. I hate that kind of disappointment; hopefully it doesn’t happen to you too often!

        And heck yes, The Raven Boys is amazing. (So amazing, I keep rereading it, putting off reading the rest of the series even though I own it. I like to prolong my anticipation of great books, apparently.) =)

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      • Ha! The anticipation of great books is the best. I actually finished the final Raven Cycle book just yesterday…I’m sad it’s over…but it was a fun ride! The Raven Cycle is definitely one of my favorite series. If you ever finish, I’d be interested in knowing your thoughts!

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