by Maggie Stiefvater
Reader Appeal: Young Teens (especially girls)
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy
Wolves who turn into handsome young men...what could be more gripping for a high school girl?
When Grace was just a young girl, she was attacked by wolves. One of them, the one with yellow eyes, stopped the others and dragged her back to safety. From then on, Grace is obsessed with watching the wolves, seeking out the one with yellow eyes. Her wolf. He comes back each winter, and they watch each other from a distance.
But the wolves start attacking humans again, and hunters take to shooting the wolves. As Grace tries to save her wolf he runs toward her house...and turns into an incredibly handsome young man, Sam. As it turns out, he and the others in the pack are werewolves. They retain human form when the weather is warm, and as winter sets in they turn to wolves. Each year they have fewer months as a human, until finally they remain wolves forever. This, it appears, is Sam's last year to return to human form. And it just so happens to be the year that he and Grace fall madly in love. Can the find a "cure" that will allow Sam to retain his human form before it's too late?
The concept of this story is interesting, a new take on werewolves that's not quite as scary as the horror movies many have seen. The elements of danger and tension are nicely handled, allowing readers to turn the page quickly without being so scared they can't sleep at night. The part of the story that gets a bit icky is the relationship between Sam and Grace. He's a kind, gentle, and understanding guy who not only cooks and has his own stash of money, but he seems to understand Grace's every glance and thought. This is certainly desirable from any woman's perspective, but it's also wildly unrealistic. He seems to be without any fault (except the obvious problem of being a werewolf.) It starts to feel so gooey that it gets disgustingly sweet. Teen girls may long for a boyfriend like this, but it's not likely they'll find one this over-the-top perfect.
Parents should note that Sam and Grace's romance leads to sex, which is not graphically described but it's clear to the reader what happens. One other sad element is the lack of care by most of the adults in this story. They're largely absent, cruel, or otherwise disappointing.
Teen girls will likely enjoy the drama and romance of Shiver, so if your daughter reads it you might want to read it as well so you can discuss it together.
PopFam RATING: B
Let’s Talk About It
If your family members are interested in this book, then encourage discussion about it afterward. You can use these questions to get started:
• Grace found an unlikely friend in Isabel. When has going through a difficult situation helped you grow closer to someone?
• Do you think it's possible to find a boyfriend or girlfriend who meets all your needs as Sam and Grace appear to do? Why or why not?
• What did you think of the decisions Beck makes in this story? Was he right in his actions? Explain your opinion.
Note: All book or comics-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.