Shiver begins: “I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.” Grace, a young girl of 11, has been attacked by wolves behind her house. She is saved by a wolf with yellow eyes, who is as drawn to her as she to him. She always looks for him thereafter, and eventually gets to the point where he will let her stroke his fur. When at age 17 she meets him as the 18-year-old boy Sam, Grace recognizes him from his yellow eyes, and they are able to explore the love they felt so long when they were different species.
This is a book about werewolves, but not in a sensationalist way. Nor are there vampires or zombies to round out the paranormal atmosphere. It is just the wolves, and they don’t know why they are wolves when it is winter, and human when it is summer. And they don’t know why Grace, who was bitten, never changes into one of them.
After a number of years of transforming, the wolves stop turning into humans, although no one knows why. Grace, her friends, and Sam desperately try to come up with a way to keep Sam from turning back into a wolf, for fear that Sam might stay a wolf and then be lost to Grace forever. They sense the key to a “cure” has to do with why Grace has never changed species.
Discussion: There’s really not much to this book beyond the love of the wolves in general, along with an appreciation for what they can experience with their enhanced senses, and the love that Grace and Sam feel in particular. Nor is there a lot of “depth” to Shiver – for example, although Sam wants to be human all the time to be with Grace, there isn’t much more to his desire than that – no disquisitions, for instance, on what it means to be human versus being animal.
Nevertheless, I loved this book; Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is magical. I also enjoyed the way the chapters alternated between the points of view of Grace and Sam. Sam is pretty much the perfect boyfriend, and that didn’t bother me either; as long as one is fantasizing, one might as well make it good!
Note: This is Book One of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. But Book One actually “ends,” and you can read it as a standalone if you desire.
Published by Scholastic Press, 2009
Teen Read Award Nominee for Best Read (2010)
Georgia Peach Book Award (2010)
Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2011)
Children’s Choice Book Award Nominee for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2010)
Florida Teens Read Nominee (2010)
The Inky Awards for Silver Inky (2010)
Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2012)
Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee (2012)