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High school junior Grace Brisbane has always felt uncommonly close to the wolves that prowl the woods beyond her small northern Minnesota town of Mercy Falls. She has always harbored a secret affection for one wolf in particular --- an attentive, watchful wolf whose yellow eyes and gentle manner mark him as different from the pack. Unlike many of the people in Mercy Falls, Grace feels no fear of the creatures, even after Jack Culpeper, a fellow high school student, is attacked and killed by the wolves.

Grace’s comfort with the wolves is especially surprising given that, when she was younger, she herself was attacked by a band of wolves and bitten; she has no recollection of how she was rescued, or by whom, but she has always suspected that the yellow-eyed wolf assisted in her rescue. So when a group of townspeople, incited by the death of Jack Culpeper, start a hunting party to kill or scare off the local wolf population, Grace intervenes, but not before her wolf is shot by a hunter.

Shot, but not killed, Grace’s wolf instead transforms unexpectedly into the form he has worn during the warm-weather months for the past 12 years, ever since he was first bitten and changed into a werewolf. For all the wolves surrounding Mercy Falls are, or were, like Sam --- wolves who were once human and who resume their human forms during the warm summer months. When winter comes, the wolves change back to animal form, eventually becoming wolves for greater and greater portions of the year, until they fail to turn human at all.

In his human body, Grace’s wolf is known as Sam. Sam knows that this unexpected transformation into his human form will likely be his last, and he and Grace --- who fall profoundly in love with each other --- are determined to keep him human for as long as possible. That means keeping him inside even as the cold Minnesota autumn approaches and Sam’s wolf nature calls out to him ever more strongly. Meanwhile, a new and unpredictable werewolf is stalking the residents of Mercy Falls, and Grace and an unexpected ally join forces to see if they can find the antidote to Sam’s impending transformation.

SHIVER is perhaps the first young adult novel that will truly satisfy the legions of fans looking for the next big thing after theTwilight series. There are a lot of obvious parallels between Stephenie Meyer’s series and SHIVER --- a forbidden love, lots of sexual tension, romantic overtones, and the whole werewolf thing, of course --- but Maggie Stiefvater is anything but a copycat writer. She’s a talented author in her own right, with a lovely, lyrical voice that embroiders the novel’s romantic tone. Grace is a less prickly heroine than Twilight’s Bella, and Sam is simultaneously less tortured and more sympathetic thanTwilight’s Edward.

Stiefvater also balances her poetic, melancholy tone with a more mundane, less metaphysical approach to fantasy, and with a storyline that will both satisfy and surprise readers looking for a stand-alone title. Although Stiefvater will be publishing a companion volume, LINGER, in 2010, SHIVER offers readers just the right tone of resolution to a suspenseful, romantic fantasy --- one that audiences may just read in one sitting, as it’s just the kind of perfect beach book to be consumed on those lazy late-summer days we all cling to before the chill of autumn sets in.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on August 1, 2009

by Maggie Stiefvater

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2009
  • Genres: Romance, Supernatural
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 0545123267
  • ISBN-13: 9780545123266