Sunday, 5 September 2010

Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Jun 2010, Scholastic Press
390 pages, Paperback

Personal copy
YA Paranormal
Infrequent violence/graphic blood, romance with a few passionate kisses and implied teen sex, numerous tissues required.

Summary from Scholastic:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Amy's thoughts:
Oh. my. SQUEE. This is SUCH an Amy book! I seriously could not put this creature down. It helps that I utterly adore all things canine, so wolfies and werebeasties are RIGHT up my alley - but Maggie Stiefvater is an incredible writer, which helps also :D

The language has been accused by some of being plain, but to me it fits the style of the novel perfectly and helps illustrate the starkness of winter and the urgency of the events. The wolves are beautifully and realistically drawn - none of the unfortunate 'humans in canine skin' business, despite the fact that, well, they are humans in canine skin :D The plot moves elegantly forward to its conclusion, and you don't actually know whether the desired ending has been acheived or not until practically the final page - suspense, whee!

The emotions of the characters are, like the wolves, drawn with stunning realism and clarity; while many teen books fall towards the border of stereotypical angst. Stiefvater lives firmly in the realms of reality, and my own emotions were dragged up and down so many times throughout the novel my husband began giving me strange looks. Grace and Sam's relationship displays depth and maturity, and they are both geniunely good people stuck in a crappy situation, fighting the cold away from the warmth of their love.

Final conclusion:
Elegant, I think, describes the book as a whole for me. Not elaborate, not adorned, but simple, clean, and elegant, every part working as it should to support the whole - characters, plot, world building, setting. An excellent, excellent book.

Aug 2010, Scholastic Press
360 pages, Hardcover

Library copy
YA Paranormal
Infrequent violence/graphic blood, references to drug and alcohol abuse, romance with a few passionate kisses and allusions to teen sex, a few tissues required.

Summary from Scholastic:

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past... and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves... and is nonetheless drawn to Cole. At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love - the light and the dark, the warm and the cold - in a way you will never forget.

Amy's thoughts:
In this compelling part two of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Stiefvater again demonstrates her command as an author; as events slip inexorably towards their conclusion, you simply know you're in the hands of a master.

Linger introduces two new point of view characters: Isabel, whom we met in Shiver, and a new character, Cole. While I was initially concerned that new points of view might take away from the intense relationship established between Grace and Sam in book one, as soon as I hit Cole's first section, I knew everything would be fine; rather than taking away from Grace and Sam's relationship, these two add to it in subtle, refined ways, allowing us to see the main couple through external eyes, which oddly, makes us sympathise with them even more. It's worth noting that for me, this was Isabel and Cole's real purpose: to illuminate Sam and Grace. They have a plotline of their own - and I'm itching to see how it's wrapped up in Forever!! - but fundamentally, they are supporting characters in all the best senses of the word.

The only thing that slightly bothered me about this book was the convenience of the primary conflict - Book one: Look, Sam and Grace can be together! Book two: Oh, wait, they can't.

But, given this was planned as a trilogy and not some opportunistic device to spin out another book, and given this structure actually fits the traditional three act structure of a romance story (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl), I'm willing to forgive it without too much trouble and trust that the author will be able to wrap the series up intelligently.

Ultimately, I think Linger is brilliant. The characters really mature and come alive in this book, and all four of them are forced to grow up in ways they never really expected, escalating the conflict throughout the story to bring it to a brilliant, blood- and tear-strewn conclusion that had me slamming the book shut in frustration that Forever doesn't come out until at least the end of the year.

Final conclusion:

For more about the author and her books, visit and the Shiver microsite.


Carla said...

I concur everything you said. READ THIS BOOK. that is all.

Amy Laurens said...

*high five* Huzzah! :D

Dwayne said...

Agreed on all counts!