Saturday, September 11, 2010
Book 44 - Shiver
I find myself at a loss on how to describe Maggie Stiefvater's masterpiece - and confused about how deeply this novel affected me. With every turn of the page, my heart ached - for a love that could never be, for characters I longed to create, for emotions I couldn't describe.
Stiefvater didn't just draw me in with Shiver, she wrapped her paragraphs around and around my body until I felt stifled with her brilliance. I couldn't wait to read more - and yet I never wanted the story to end.
Too many times I've heard Shiver described in comparison to Twilight, but with respect to Stephanie Myers, Stiefvater is in a whole different league. Sam and Grace are star crossed lovers, Grace a seemingly normal teen and Sam, part man, part wolf. Their chemistry spills on the page with agonizing beauty - by the first few chapters I was swooning over Sam and appluading Grace. By the end, I felt every kiss, every heartache, every smile and every tear.
It's easy, with books of this nature, to get swept up in the story and believe in the supernatural - but at the end of Twilight, I returned to my normal reality - without vampires (or Edward). Yet, when I finished Shiver, I didn't want to let go of that world, and wished there was a forest in my backyard in which I could watch for the wolves. Perhaps it is because Stiefvater's writing creates such wonderful visuals and evokes such a tremendous emotional response, but it is also due to the author's challenge for readers: Forget everything you thought about werewolves.
For Sam is not a werewolf - not in the commercial sense, bur rather a boy caught between his ultimate change from human to animal. He does not transform under the moonlight, and when he finally succumbs to his fate, he will no longer be human ever again. It is this dynamic that heightens the urgency for Sam and Grace, the ticking time bomb that propells the story forward.
Shiver has no slow parts. If anything, it moves so quickly there is scarcely a moment to breathe.
I have many favourite authors and dozens of favourite books, but Shiver is easily the best book I have read in a very long time. Maybe ever. If that sounds frivalous, I understand. And I'm sure many of you won't agree. I know there are story flaws, craft flaws, character flaws. No book is perfect.
But in my opinion, Shiver is about as close as it gets.