Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1
Genre: Young-Adult, Romance, Werewolves
Publication: 2009 by Scholastic
When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace’s small town becomes a place of fear and suspicion. But Grace can’t help being fascinated by the pack, and by one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. There’s something about him – something almost human. Then she meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away…
A chilling love story that will have you hooked from the very first page.
I have very mixed opinions over this book, I thought parts touched on being brilliant, whilst other parts I just felt were over emotional, silly and I just couldn’t get along with them. This book is certainly one that touches in with emotions, and is very emotion centred. I don’t think I’ve quite read a book where one of the main characters is so acutely aware of his emotions. It was rather strange experience because he was so sensitive over everything.
On with the story… I’ve heard this being called the “Twilight with werewolves” whilst I disagree completely with the statement, I can see where people grasps the concept from because Grace hits a little bit of emotional trauma, but this does not span for months on end or result with her in a zombie state. She isn’t whiny or over-done whilst she hits this little bit of a downer and I felt it was an appropriate reaction to the situation.
On the other hand people are calling this a masterpiece and I can slightly understand that, but masterpiece I would not call this! I think it has the makings of a good young-adult novel with the romance and direction, but certain aspects such as the characters and over-emotional tendencies of Sam, the love interest, really annoyed me.
Having said that, I found the last few chapters of this novel highly touching and they did bring tears to my eyes. It certainly altered my perspective on the novel after the last few chapters, but I felt that maybe this was a little too late to truly love the novel. I felt the ending reached a pinnacle point of closure and I’m not really sure how Stiefvater can carry on this series for two more books. Although I do own them both, so I think I’ll continue to read and see the direction she takes the couple in.
As for the “insta-love” as people have begun to call it that appears in many young-adult novels. I think the whole concept as a whole depends upon the person because some people truly believe in “love at first sight” and such experiences, which is why I find it hard to judge a book on this reason alone. However in the case of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, I felt although some aspects of the romance could be called “insta-love” the two had been sharing something across 6 years even though they weren’t aware of exactly what this was, it was created over an extended period of time. And this is why I wouldn’t call this book “insta-love”, to me it was more of a fraught emotional romance.
Grace. I’m not sure how I feel about her. She was practical and caring, but at times she lacked as a character any real human ways. She seemed to discard her friends who apparently were the great “trio” before the book started. Even then though, her friends Rachel and Olivia didn’t seem to care about this fact and made little or no attempt to secure their friendship. I didn’t get the feeling that the friends were at all as close as previously eluded to and that even at the start of the book their friendship was very much in tatters. Olivia seemed the most concerned with Grace whilst Rachel popped up on occasions only to discuss her holiday at Christmas that Grace must attend. It was rather annoying!
Grace herself just seemed to go through the whole book without reaching a female lead and as one of the stories protagonists, it’s hard to really call her a lead when she never had any strong feelings other than for Sam. I think the pinnacle point in where she took action was the hunting scenario. Then with her parents she never really ‘corrected’ their behaviour as such because she only ever stood up to her mother once and then the whole issue was brushed aside. It seemed Grace had real problems with her parents who were never around yet claimed to be “doing the best for her” when they popped up and she never truly questioned this. She buried it and pushed it aside, so I hope in the next couple of novels this will be explored by Stiefvater.
Onto Grace’s friend Olivia who becomes a rather vital part of the story. I found it hard going with this story because I grew to hate Olivia at a certain time within the novel and I found this difficult reading personally because my own name is Olivia, but that was a rather personal grievance. However I feel like she was a rather selfish character at times, that never truly connected with Grace even though they were friends and it wasn’t until the end I could really appreciate her character. Even then, I think without her name-sake she still isn’t a character I’d hold in high esteem with her personal traits.
Sam. I have mixed emotions over this boy because he was so sensitive and flowery with his emotions. I felt it was overdone at times and that he could have been less emotional. Maybe this was partly to do with him being a werewolf and I expected him to be more wild and fierce as a werewolf. However over the story I understood this emotional traits more and I felt it balanced with Grace and added to the heart-wrenching moments this story created as a young-adult novel. As a character he did have real reason for his emotional state and behaviour, which unlike some characters I’ve previously read, I found that I could greatly appreciate his history despite it’s horrific setting. Beneath his exterior I think there is a more cheeky boy to his demure rather than the shy, embarrassed boy we’ve met in this first novel and I hope this comes out because I feel there is a real need for it to lighten the mood.
We witnessed a duel perspective throughout the novel, which I think worked effectively for us both to appreciate the minds of Grace and Sam, although our central focus was upon Sam. There was limited time in Sam’s mind and I found this disappointing, but the use of the dual perspective certainly encouraged the pace of the story line along and prevented Grace’s descriptions of Sam’s beauty and her love becoming too over-bearing.
Another aspect this novel touches on that could be potentially controversial is teen-sex, which some people agree on whilst others disagree. However I think this is all part of a teenage life and it wasn’t explained in graphic detail. I felt it fit with the story and the idea of limited time. Being part of human nature it’s hardly something you can criticise Stiefvater for adding and I felt she covered the issue sufficiently without being overboard. The pair were both consenting whilst some may push to say Grace forced Sam, he was agreeable and the one that pushed her onto the bed, so it is hardly an issue for debate in my opinion.
The overall plot was okay. I liked the werewolf aspect and the genetics behind the werewolf gene. I found it unique to the story and I think Stiefvater has a cracking rather harrowing ideal. I however think the places, the scenes and characters took a backdrop to the emotional aspect of this story, which is a very different type of young-adult I’ve read, but it could have benefitted from more working elsewhere to make the plot less “search for somebody, solve problem, cry a little” and more action and sustenance.
Overall I think this is a good young-adult novel with a few faults, but nothing to be overlooked lightly. I can say I did enjoy the read by the end of it, and I’d recommend it to somebody who is in touch with their emotional side, but I’m not sure it’ll blow you away.
“Books are more real when you read them outside.”
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