Lisa's Reviews > Shiver

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
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Jan 07, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: young-adult, paranormal-romance-urban-fantasy
Read in March, 2011

Note: After rereading this review, I decided to make some changes. While I stand by my opinions, I was unhappy with some of the ways in which I chose to voice them. The language of this review has been edited, however, the opinions are unchanged.

I read Shiver because it was recommended to me by someone who wasn't impressed with Twilight and insisted this was better. Well, it's not, although I wouldn't go as far as to say it's worse. Mostly, I was bored to tears by the lack of a solid plot and superfluous descriptions.

Sam(antha)

There were so many problems with this novel but the most egregious one was the fact that a boy, Sam, not short for Samantha, sounded like a woman. Here are a couple examples of Sam's girlish thoughts:

1) "I found a puffy, bright blue jacket that made me look like a blimp..."

2) " 'I don't even know what they are. Probably a million calories.' "

Guys do not have the same preoccupation with weight that girls do and if they were to complain about their weight they would never use the language Sam uses to describe themselves. I might have bought the second quote if Sam were extremely overweight and counting calories but he'd not and he isn't.

3) "synonym for the word intercourse"

No guy in his own head would ever use the word intercourse to describe sex. No way, no how.

Teenspeak

The teenage characters in this novel sound much older than they actually are. That said, I'm also not a fan of books like Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast that make all teenagers sound like airhead valley girls. However, it is possible to polish a teenager's grammar a bit without making them sound more than a decade older than they are, or like they're from a different century. Some examples from Sam:

1) "It was a terribly cute noise."/" 'It's horribly cute.' "

Not only does he not sound like a teenager, but it's another example of how he sounds feminine.

2) " 'Did he slather a lot when he was in school?' "

Who uses the word slather in that context? Even worse, what teenager uses the word slather? And it's bad enough that Sam uses the word, but it's worse that Grace a) knows what it means, and b) doesn't think it's odd that he's using the word.

3) " 'Did you tell that man you went potty on yourself?' "

What teenager, male or female, would say "went potty"? More likely, a teenage boy would say "Did you tell that guy you pissed yourself?" Later on Sam tells Grace that he's going to "wet himself" which is slightly better except that Sam tells this to Grace as a way of saying he is nervous to meet her parents. I can't imagine a situation in which any person, male or female, teen or adult, would whisper that in someone's ear unless they really had to go to the bathroom and needed that person's assistance in getting there.

Of the same mind

Another issue I had with this novel was that although it was written from two different perspectives both characters sounded exactly the same. I'm a firm believer that if an author uses first person narration and switches between different characters' points of view, then each character should each have a distinctive voice (especially if they're two different genders). If I didn't look at the chapter headings—and sometimes I would forget—I didn't know whose point of view I was reading. Sometimes, I was so bored, I'd drift away and when I returned back to the book I couldn't remember if it was Sam or Grace speaking.

Purple Prose

A final note about the writing style. The prose was very purple. Although there were some nice descriptions, there were far more instances where they were overwrought and bogged down the story. I would put an example but there are just too many parts to choose from. I will say that the writing in this novel was superior to the writing in the Twilight Saga. The sentence structure was generally correct and the inappropriate words were used in grammatically correct ways for the most part.

Grace

In addition to my dislike for the writing style, I also had a lot of problems with the characterization. I found Grace to be extremely unlikable and unsympathetic. Her lack of empathy for anyone other than herself and Sam was appalling. In one example, Grace says:

"Mercy Falls was all about rumors, and the rumor on Jack was that he got his short fuse from his dad. I didn’t know about that. It seemed like you ought to pick the sort of person you would be, no matter what your parents were like."

Grace hears rumors that Jack was being abused by his father and she shows no empathy for him. (view spoiler) While people need to be held accountable for their own actions, Grace's lack of concern is overly callous. Let's not forget that Grace also can't forgive Jack for dying because his death threatens her precious wolves. Never mind the fact that her wolves were actually the cause of his supposed death. No matter how awful a person Jack was, it hardly justifies being savaged by wild animals.

Grace is also a terrible friend. At least Bella didn't have any good friends to ignore for Edward. Bella only ditched her friends of a couple months, who she never liked that much to begin with, to hang out with her stalker boyfriend and his beautiful wealthy friends. Grace has been friends with Olivia and Rachel for years and still she puts her wolf ahead of them. Then she completely abandons them once Sam becomes human.

Her failure as a friend really comes out in the end when she learns that Olivia has been bitten and is going to change into a werewolf because of Grace no less. Yet all Grace can think about is Sam. There is a two second thought of Olivia and then it's Sam Sam Sam. Well rounded people who care about more than just themselves and their significant others can be concerned about more than one person at a time.

Olivia then remains absent from Grace's thoughts for a while, and when Grace finally does remember her, she's selfishly lamenting that Olivia isn't there to help her deal with her grief over losing Sam. She's not the least bit concerned about Olivia turning into a werewolf. Once again, Grace only thinks about herself and Sam.

Sam

Sam was no better than Grace in terms of his treatment of others. Here's my favorite example: "I thought—vaguely hoped—that [Jack] died too, and ceased to be a problem."

He actually hopes that Jack has died so he won't have to deal with him. At this point, Jack's only crimes are being a bully at school, showing up at the school in wolf form, and being hated by Grace. There was absolutely no reason to wish he were dead.

Sam also lacks proper empathy for Shelby in the same way that Grace lacks proper empathy for Jack. He knows about her past and yet he doesn't seem to really care. He only brings it up when he's trying to explain why she prefers being a wolf. This attitude is much more understandable once she attacks Grace later on in the book.

Shelby is the Rosalie/Leah character of Shiver, only less sympathetic despite having a more traumatic past because she tries to kill Grace for no good reason. If Shelby's relationship with Sam had been more fleshed out and her past better explored, then it would have seemed more understandable and Shelby would have been a more complex character. Instead, she's a simplistically evil werewolf.

Parenting

This book is full of unrealistically terrible parents. Without some sort of mental illness, developmental delay, or drug habit, no parents are as neglectful as Grace's parents are. My issue is not that Grace's parents are absent (I've seen worse parenting, unfortunately), but that there was no reason given for their neglect. Having worked with neglectful parents I can tell you there is always a reason. How is it possible that Grace's father could have left her in a hot car and forgotten about her while she was sick? I know that people do sometimes leave their infants and young children in the car and forget about them, usually when they're sleep deprived from being kept awake all night or because they're on drugs, but I have never heard it happening with an older child when the parent is sober. It was especially unrealistic because Grace was sick and her parents were preoccupied with her.

And where was Child Protective Services (CPS)? The hospital staff are mandated reporters and would've had to have reported this neglect to social services. I'd say Grace's parents' neglect/flightiness is about as realistic as Bella's clumsiness. What's worse is that child abuse and neglect are very serious issues and shouldn't be handled as carelessly as it is in this book.

Description

I also had a problem with lack of description in this novel. Although there were plenty of useless descriptions in all of the purple prose, some very important ones were left out, particularly with regard to the characters. Often times characters weren't described in a timely manner if they were described at all. For example, I thought the members of the wolf pack were closer in age to Sam than they actually were for a large part of the book because there was no indication given of their ages until halfway through the book.

Grace is never fully described, making it hard to get a clear picture of what she looks like, and Beck isn't described until the very end despite being mentioned numerous times throughout the novel. We also never get a good description of the other wolves. Paul is simply described as "dark". What does that mean? I need more than that to picture a character.

There are several other instances where non-descriptive words are used to describe people. At one point, Sam thinks while he's watching Jack, "Something about the way he carried himself suggested overconfidence." "Something" is not descriptive. I want to know what it is about Jack that makes him seem arrogant. His saunter, his cocky smile, etc. Another example of this is when Sam is described as having an "interesting-shaped nose". Again, I don't know what that means or how it looks. And those are just three examples taken from many.

As far as description goes I have two parting words: "Leaky womb"

Romance

The romance is terribly contrived and unoriginal. There is no build-up. Grace and Sam love each other from the moment they meet (while he's a wolf) and they stay in love with each other until the very last page. Their love doesn't grow because there's now where for it to grow to. The only growth in their relationship is in terms of physical contact.

Plot, or lack thereof

This review is already too long but I will briefly say that the plot of this book, much like Twilight, takes a backseat to the romance. Finding a cure for being a werewolf should have been an integral part of the story, yet it isn't explored until the second half of the novel. Most of the book is spent describing Sam and Grace's love which I had a hard time buying into because there was no build up.

Lyrics

Lastly, the song lyrics were really bad. Poetry and song lyrics are difficult to add to a novel and unless a writer is very skilled at that sort of writing, they should be left out. Stiefvater is definitely not a song writer.
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Reading Progress

02/25/2011
10.0% "What did I get myself into? I think Twilight gave me PTSD because I'm starting to have flashbacks."
03/02/2011
41.0% "I've had a hard time getting into this book. Once I put it down, it's hard to pick back up again."
02/17/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Hartman Yeah, "go potty on yourself" really put me off. Not even my son, back in his actual potty training days, would have said that.


message 2: by John (new) - rated it 1 star

John Egbert Sam(antha) can't write poetry to save his life. Why does Maggie patronize us so?


message 3: by Cory (new) - rated it 1 star

Cory I had to unlike and like this again, just because I agree 100%.


message 4: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Cory wrote: "I had to unlike and like this again, just because I agree 100%."

Thanks Cory. Your review was one of my favorite reviews of Shiver. A true masterpiece. :)


Caline Umm.... I have some things to say. Sorry. I'm not "trolling" or whatever, I respect that you don't like this book, but you're pointing fingers at all the wrong things. "This story has no description." This story has the most description I've ever read in a book. True, sometimes it was overbearing, but that's got to be the biggest lie right there. Parenting like that does come along every now and then, sadly, and I do agree that Sam and Grace fell in love a little too quickly and that she didn't give her friends much of her time of day.

""Mercy Falls was all about rumors, and the rumor on Jack was that he got his short fuse from his dad. I didn’t know about that. It seemed like you ought to pick the sort of person you would be, no matter what your parents were like."

What a heartless bitch. Grace hears rumors that Jack was being abused by his father and she shows no empathy for him."

I laughed so hard when I read that, I can't even put it to words. "... and the rumor on Jack was that he got his short fuse from his dad." most definitely does not mean that his dad abuses him -.- It means that he inherited his temper tantrums from his dad. That's kind of a facepalm moment there. I'm guessing that you skimmed most of the story, for most of your other things that you felt to complain about. Alright, that's it. I just wanted to point that out to you. Good day.


message 6: by Lisa (last edited Oct 05, 2012 05:08PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Caline wrote: "Umm.... I have some things to say. Sorry. I'm not "trolling" or whatever, I respect that you don't like this book, but you're pointing fingers at all the wrong things. "This story has no descriptio..."

A good rule of thumb is that if you have to say you're not a troll then you probably are one. It's pretty clear from your comment that you don't respect my opinion. I find it very suspicious that you've only rated five books, three of which are from the Wolves and Mercy Falls trilogy, and all five were rated five stars. As for your specific points regarding my review, here is my response:

1) I never said this story has no description. I did acknowledge that there was a lot of description, however, there was pertinent information left out and I gave quite a few examples.

2) I am fully aware of the fact that there are terrible parents in this world because I used to be a social worker. My complaint was that there was no explanation given (told or shown) for Grace's parents' behavior. Having worked with neglectful parents I can tell you that there is always a reason, usually substance abuse, mental illness, or both.

3) We'll have to agree to disagree about Grace and Sam being the perfect example of instalove, and that Grace neglected her friends for him.

4) Abuse is not just physical, it can be emotional (as well as sexual but that's OT). Grace states that Jack has been exposed to his father's short temper and shows no empathy for him, which I think is callous. I read Stiefvater's statement to mean Jack was a victim of his father's temper, but even if he were merely witnessing it, it would be pretty traumatic for him as a child. Anger management problems tend to be pervasive so if his father was losing his temper in public it's likely he was losing it at home too with his wife and children.

5) I most definitely did not skim this book otherwise I would not have been able to pull out direct quotes and specific examples to back up the many points I brought up in my review. I do, however, suspect that you merely skimmed my review.


Redwolf excuse me but a lot of guys who were abused as children act feminine there called feminist yes of course sam is going to sound more girlish than a regular guy because it was written by a woman but that is how she likes her guys, and me too my boyfriend acts like that by the way, but hes not gay. He was abused so i think that her novel is realist and makes twilight look like crap.


Caline Thank you very much. ^


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Murray I was drinking something when I read this review and was laughing so hard I almost ended up wearing it.


message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Jennifer wrote: "I was drinking something when I read this review and was laughing so hard I almost ended up wearing it."

Consuming liquids can be dangerous while on Goodreads. There have been quite a few times it's happened to me too. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)


Merna I agree, the lyrics were really bad. Bad enough for me to feel embarrassed for the Author. I think Maggie must have realized how much of a girl sam sounded, since she did so much better in her other book The Raven Boys.


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Merna wrote: "I agree, the lyrics were really bad. Bad enough for me to feel embarrassed for the Author. I think Maggie must have realized how much of a girl sam sounded, since she did so much better in her oth..."

I liked The Raven Boys a lot better too. I think part of the reason the boys sounded less feminine was that it was written in third person instead of first person.


Merna The best part of the raven boys is that there was no insta-love. I don't know if I should count Adam though. I'm pretty sure he didn't love blue he just really liked her.


message 14: by Su (new) - rated it 4 stars

Su I liked this book, for some reasons, but I really like your review, too.


message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Su wrote: "I liked this book, for some reasons, but I really like your review, too."

Thank you, Su. :)


message 16: by Nessa (new) - rated it 1 star

Nessa I really like your review. You mentioned everything that I would write or say about this book.


message 17: by Lei (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lei Question, what's wrong with using the word slather? And I'm pretty sure that most teens (being one myself) would know what it means and use it sometime. I completely agree with the rest of your review by the way.


message 18: by Lisa (last edited Dec 13, 2015 11:10PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Lei wrote: "Question, what's wrong with using the word slather? And I'm pretty sure that most teens (being one myself) would know what it means and use it sometime. I completely agree with the rest of your rev..."

I've never heard a teenager use the word slather, currently or when I was one, except to say something was slathered on something else, like slathering mayonnaise on bread. The way the word was used in this novel was an uncommon usage, and I don't think many teenagers, or even adults, would use it that way in every day speech.


message 19: by Catherine (new) - added it

Catherine A. He used the phrase "went potty" to tease her. What she told the man made her sound young and dumb, and that was his way of expressing his amusement. Overall, I thought it was a GREAT book, but that's just me…


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