Shiver is the story of young girl who falls in love with a mythical creature. No it’s not Twilight, but it’s close. In this story the girl, Grace, loves a werewolf, not a vampire. Since she was attacked by wolves as a child, Grace has been fascinated and drawn to wolves – particularly the wolf with yellow eyes who was there the day she was attacked (but he didn’t bite her) and who continues to watch her from the woods beyond her house.

When a boy from Mercy Falls, Grace’s hometown, is attacked and (supposedly) killed by wolves, the locals take to the woods with their guns. After some fast thinking and white lying, Grace is able to stop the hunters but not before they get off a few shots. When she returns home, Grace finds a naked boy curled up and shivering on her deck. He has been shot. Grace instantly recognizes the boy as “her wolf” and rushes him to the hospital. Fortunately it was just a flesh wound and werewolves are crazy fast healers, so the two duck out of the hospital and head straight to Grace’s bedroom. To make the plot less complicated, Stiefvater has given Grace parents who are entirely self-absorbed and rarely home. This makes it easy for Grace to stash Wolf Boy Sam in her bedroom night after night. Even though they have been longing for one another for years (yes, technically Sam has been a wolf every time Grace has ever seen him, but there has been longing nonetheless) they maintain self-control – for a while.

The remainder of the novel deals with Sam and Grace falling ever deeper in love and dreading the approaching winter since it is cold weather that causes Sam to turn into a wolf every year. To further add to their angst, Sam is worried this will be his last year to get to be a boy during the warmer months. Eventually all werewolves just stay wolves.

When the schoolmate of Grace who had been “killed” by wolves weeks before begins showing up in Mercy Falls, things get even more complicated. He is convinced that Grace must have a cure since she herself was attacked by wolves as a child but never actually became one. Turns out, there is something that just might work.

I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll just say that in the end, the cure does work for some, but not all, of the werewolves in this story. Even if I didn’t know there was a sequel, I’d know by the way this book ends, that Stiefvater has left the door wide open for another best seller.

LANGUAGE

Yes, some. I don’t remember any instances when the characters take the Lord’s name in vain, and they don’t drop any F bombs, but some four letter words do fly.

VIOLENCE

There isn’t a lot of violence per se (except when Sam recounts the story of a dog fight he was involved in as a boy), but the descriptions of the process of the change from human to wolf might be disturbing for some.

SEXUAL CONTENT

Spoiler alter!….Yep, they give in. It isn’t graphic, but it is sensual. Shortly after their encounter, Sam turns back into a wolf (the two incidents are not related), so there’s just the one time, but I’m guessing the romance gets a lot more heated (and frequent) in the sequels.

SUPERNATURAL ELEMENTS

Are werewolves supernatural or just mythical? I’m going to go with mythical, so I’ll say there are no supernatural elements in this story.

WHAT TO DISCUSS

  • Why are Grace’s parents so uninvolved in her life? Does this affect who she is?
  • Grace and Sam fall hard and fast. They seem to have some sort of connection. Is this realistic? In other words, do they really have a connection? Are they really in love? (Remember Grace only knows Wolf-Sam until several chapters in.) Or are they just hot for each other?
  • Why are there so many books for teenagers about vampires and werewolves? What is the fascination?
  • How is this book like Twilight? How is it different?
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