I just finished reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and I thought I would share with you some of my favourite winter reads. So, this is the first of my special winter reviews.
Boy meets girl. Girl likes boy. Boy is wolf. And that’s just in the first chapter. First published in 2009, this teen novel comes right in the midst of the Twilight craze, where all things supernatural, bloody and brooding are the height of popularity. And, yes, there are similarities between the two: poetic boy, girl who should be afraid of him but isn’t, irrevocable love within a few minutes. But that wouldn’t be a very fair review to write, and, actually, I really enjoyed this book, and thought that it had a lot of heart.
Set in the icy landscape of small town America on the cusp of winter, there is much beauty to be found in Stiefvater’s prose. There are countless scenes of looking out into the looming woods that are always picturesque and never sinister, despite the wolves that prowl around them, which I like. This book isn’t clean; there is blood amidst the snow. Sometimes the plot takes a blunt, shocking turn, and I liked this. But there is always beauty and serenity as the constant backdrop, like a thick blanket of snow.
The emotions that the characters feel, particularly Grace and Sam, are very real. The viewpoint switches, from a first person narrative from Grace, to a first person narrative from Sam, and the switches are natural and appealing. We get inside the heads of these two teenagers, and what we find there is poignant and deep, yes, but also very real. Amidst the love and joy and sorrow are more complex emotions, such as guilt and resentment, which add the third dimension to this novel. There are also numerous quotes from Rilke, which, surprisingly, work, whilst only seeming a little pretentious.
If you’re a fan of teen fiction, and if you’re not sick of Twilight-esque prose, then you really will enjoy this book. At times it is sickly, and often unbelievable, but if you want an icy winter read that is entertaining and will tug at your heartstrings, then you will have a lot of fun with this.