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'Shiver'

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[June 23, 2010]  "Shiver," by Maggie Stiefvater, Scholastic Press, 390 pages, young adult

Review by
Louella Moreland

Riding on the wave of supernatural phenomena, "Shiver," by Maggie Stiefvater, weaves a tale of teen romance and werewolves. Sorry, no vampires in this thriller. Personally, as a reader, I am hoping the wheel will turn again soon and another genre will rise to the top of popularity. However, for those who did not get enough of Stephenie Meyerís Bella and Edward, you will want to sink your teeth into "Shiver."

Shiver is a teen love story between 17-year-olds Grace and Sam. As a child, Grace was bitten by wolves in the woods behind her home, and Sam was the werewolf that saved her from the pack. Through the years in between, Grace watches for the wolves, especially the one with the yellow eyes. She calls him her own special wolf. Even her closest friends know about her obsession with him. Grace notices that the wolves appear in the winter, and she is lonely in the summer months until their return. Yes, you guessed it, the cold is what triggers the infected humans to change to werewolf form.

Unfortunately, the plot is very predictable. Grace feels she somehow belongs with the wolves, and the yellow-eyed wolf turns out to be Sam, whom she rescues from hunters. They fall in love. Throw in the school bully, Jack, who is attacked by the pack and "changed" (only his sister believes he is still alive after his body disappears), a possible way to "cure" the werewolves, and you have a recipe for a modern teen thriller.

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The story is told between the voices of Grace and Sam, lending a balance to the tale. However, there are just too many threads where the reader must suspend even tenuous belief. Can any parents be as absent as the ones in this small town? Even though we are expected to believe Graceís parents love her, they did not seem overly concerned about the wolf pack living in the woods behind their house, and they leave Grace alone for long periods of time (including overnight, which gives Grace and Sam plenty of time to become close). Grace seems to be immune to "changing" to wolf form because her father left her locked in his car in the middle of the summer. (What 11-year-old canít unlock a car door?) If Grace was attacked, why is she not afraid of the wolves? Why doesnít she seem to completely remember what happened to her until Sam leads her memory back in time? How could a high school girl go out and buy a new car without an adult, even if she is in possession of her dadís checkbook? Sorry, this is too much to swallow.

Still, I must say I also enjoyed the story. If you can overlook the way-too-obvious contrivances in the plot, the relationship between Grace and Sam is hauntingly sweet. Many readers may not be as bugged (as I was) by the unreality of the "human" side of the story. As a light, slightly scary horror novel, "Shiver" is one of the better ones, with just a slight amount of steam between the two major characters. Therefore, I would have to add it to a summer list for teens who want to wile away an afternoon or two beside the pool or under a shade tree.

For more books that follow the summer reading theme "Scare Up a Good Book," come in to check out the displays in the Youth Services Department of the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St.

[Text copied from file received from Louella Moreland, Lincoln Public Library District]

(Ms. Lou's blog: lincolnpubliclibraryupdates.blogspot.com)

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