Every year since she was a young girl, Grace has waited for winter. In the cold Boundary Wood behind her house, she has looked for wolves. Not just any wolves, but her wolf, the one with the yellow eyes.
Every winter for years, yellow-eyed Sam has paused in the woods just beyond the clearing where he could see her. Grace, he has noticed, has a habit of sitting on the tire swing or on the back porch staring into the trees, no matter what the thermometer reads.
Grace barely remembers being attacked by the wolves when she was little or how she had been saved, but she has always remembered those yellow eyes. Sam wonders why life couldn't be different, why Grace didn't change, and why time is running out. They couldn't have know that it would take only a single gunshot to alter their destinies forever.
Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver is the first in an urban paranormal series that introduces us to the inhabitants of a small Minnesota town and the wolves of its surrounding woods. Each chapter is narrated by Grace or Sam and is headed by a temperature reading, which adds to the drama as the story develops.
Within the first eight pages we know how Grace and Sam are connected and that Sam is more than just a wolf. What we don't know is how and when Grace will meet Sam and discover his secrets and how she will react when she hears the word werewolf. Although readers will eventually feel sure about where the book is going, Stiefvater changes up the plot just enough to keep the tension high and plant doubts about our predictions.
The wolf and werewolf aspects of the book are well developed and internally consistent. The personalities of the wolves, and how they react to the constrictions of their existence and solve their unique problems are believable within the context of the novel. Grace's world is rooted in her small town, but there we find the characters are somewhat stereotypical.
Shiver, like many recent young adult novels, leaves the teenagers virtually parentless. Grace barely crosses paths with her mother and father, and her high school friends seem to be equally unsupervised. While it is understandable that a young adult novel should revolve around the teens, it seems less believable that every child would be left on his or her own, with no apparent rules or restrictions.
Although the novel does not end on a cliff-hanger, we are left wanting to know what happens next. Fortunately, the second Grace and Sam novel, Linger, will be released soon. Look for a review next week.
The audiobook edition of Shiver (Scholastic Audio) was narrated by David LeDoux and Jenna Lamia, who read the chapters from Sam's and Grace's viewpoint, respectively. Each kept the story moving at the appropriate pace and emotional level. The was my first experience with LeDoux. Although his voice sometimes seemed a bit old for a teenager, I wouldn't hesitate to listen to him again. I am quite familiar with Jenna Lamia, whose is particularly suited to reading from a young girl's or teen's point of view, making her a great match for Shiver.
I should note that I read Shiver in print last year and recently revisited it in audio. It is possible that my enjoyment of the audiobook was influenced by familiarity with the story.
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Published by Scholastic Press, 2009
Challenges: Young Adult, New Author, Buy One and Read, Support Your Library, Audiobooks, 100+
Source: Bought print; borrowed audio (see review policy)
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