Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: Shiver

I don't know if you feel it too, but I think someone punched the afterburners into high gear. I could have sworn Labor Day was a week ago. (And no, I still haven't taken that vacation...) It's also hard to believe that the year is almost three-fourths done. Around New Year's, I asked readers if they'd like to contribute book reviews. I got one back then. Now I have another to share with you. Though I know the writer's name, she prefers to be identified by her Agent Query moniker, Big Black Cat. Thanks, BBC, for your contribution.

Yes, I'm a YA librarian and I hadn't read Shiver yet. There, I said it.

With that off my chest, I have to share that I approach all YA romance with trepidation. I'm virulently anti-love-at-first-sight, which is so common in the genre. Maybe I'm a jaded adult, or perhaps I was just an unattractive teen, but I find the idea of love at first sight is usually an excuse for not having to bother with character development vis a vis the relationship. So I found myself pleasantly surprised by Shiver — but I digress.

The story's basic plot is human girl loves werewolf, which had me gagging at hello. But guess what, BBC was won over by something I didn't expect — really good writing. Stiefvater does a stellar job of using a cliched genre as a vehicle for some excellent writing. She also takes a big leap by introducing YA readers to a little culture, such as the German poet Rilke. Yes, that's a true statement.

While there is an element of "ba BOOM I'm fantastically in love," the rather complicated backstory of Grace, the female main character, and her obsession with a wolf pack, produces a relationship that builds on (gasp!) friendship and trust before evolving into something else. True, the male MC (werewolf Sam) is in his wolf form at the time, but hey — building blocks are building blocks, and if you can’t dig interspecies relationships you have missed the YA bus.

Another pro for me in this book was the supporting cast being well written — something you don't always see in YA, or adult literature for that matter. Teen characters often come off as stereotypes, so I was pleased to find an exception. There were perhaps two characters that I didn't feel I "knew" by the end, but for the most part the whole group was well written and individualistic.

Maggie Stiefvater is represented by Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Agency, and I can tell you, I'm jealous as hell about that.


Lisa_Gibson said...

Great review! I agree with you on the points of great character developement and the pacing being a bit off. For me that spelled, like not love. :)
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Caroline Hagood said...

Great review. Thanks!

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks for both comments. I've not read the book, but as a result of BBC's review, I went to the author's blog and liked what I read in her posts. If her novel is an engaging as her blog (and BBC's review suggests exactly that), then I may have to pick up a copy of Shiver.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great review BBC! I enjoyed Shiver as well. It's currently making the rounds in my classroom. I think 3 kids have read it since school started :)

Several students (and me as well) ordered it and Linger from the monthly book orders we get. :)

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks, Jemi, for your comment. Sounds like this is quite the read for the YA audience.

Anonymous said...

I've never had any desire to read Shiver, either, but after reading the BBC review, I think I can see why it's so popular. :)

Matt Sinclair said...

A great comment, thanks. That's one thing I love about book reviews: they can expose you to works you might never have considered reading.