Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Read: January 21-23, 2013
“the cold. Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf- her wolf- watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn’t know why.
the heat. Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace… until now.
the shiver. For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it’s spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human- and Grace must fight to keep him- even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.”
Grace- Grace starts out seeming a little fantastical, but she ends up being a more cut-and-dry kind of person that starts to let her emotions bubble up at the end. She practically raises herself, and has had a few encounters with the wolves in Boundary Wood. She has a particular attachment to one particular wolf, Sam. Her attachment to Sam only intensifies and that is when you really get to know the real Grace.
Sam- Sam is wonderful. As a slightly nerdy girl in love with books, I can’t help but love him. He is a tortured soul of sorts, and you find yourself really hoping things turn out okay for him. Unfortunately, you can’t always get what you want! Sam’s double life starts to catch up with him, and you are really sitting on the seat of your pants as you wait to see what this kindhearted, romantic, perspicacious person is about to do (or get into) next.
Conflict: The main conflict here is Sam’s double life. His wolf-self threatens to come out at any moment and will tear him away from Grace. Sam can’t bear to lose himself, almost as much as he can’t bear to leave Grace. Other conflicts arise concerning the future of the pack. A new wolf poses a threat to the whole pack by being conspicuous, but another seasoned wolf throws Sam into a tailspin when he seems like he is making some morally gray decisions.
Themes: Temperature. Helllllooooo temperature. Every chapter tells you what temperature it is, and that is important. At first, I was like “what in the world is this?” I could not figure out why the temperature was so important, but like most things, it was explained in due time. Everyone seems to favor one season over another, but that tension is amplifies times a zillion when you realize what the simple changing of seasons means for the main characters. It’s all a bit stressful, you find yourself checking to see what the temperature is, and cursing the changing of the seasons.
Things I Liked: I liked that the author made a point to say that this wolf thing was not magic- it was science. Although there is no explanation of how exactly it is science (something I did’t like), I liked the distinction. I liked how sincere Sam seems to be- ALL THE TIME. I liked specific sections of especially creative wordplay. One of my favorites was :
“As the hours went by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.” -Sam, Chp 4
Also, I liked the ending. Although some people might think that it was a little too distressing, I liked that it forced you to feel. That sounds so corny, but I was genuinely sad for the characters toward the end. Even the ones I didn’t like so much. I was reading this at work, and I almost cried. But, you should know that I am a big softy when it comes to books. I think it’s because I read such large chunks of them at a time. I’m fully immersed in their world, and I develop more of a connection with the characters. It’s both lovely and awful. When I read Shadow Kissed (part of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead), I couldn’t even tell Chris about it without starting to cry. Ugh, such a softy.
Things I Didn’t Like: I didn’t like the overly-stoic nature of Grace. Once she finds Sam and really starts to open up, it isn’t such a problem. But in the beginning, she seems like she is just floating through life doing exactly as she’s told. Maybe that is what the author was going for, but I wasn’t the biggest fan. I’m also not sure how I feel about Sam always composing song lyrics in his head. I’m sure that for some people, it’s endearing. However, that wasn’t entirely the case for me. Don’t get me wrong, some of the lyrics are beautiful, but I felt like sometimes they were unnecessary and made it seem like Sam wasn’t really focused on the here-and-now but was pulling a J.D. (from the show Scrubs) and just staring off into space.
Overall: I liked this book quite a bit. When I finished it on Goodreads, I looked at the reviews and the first few were awful. I felt like I was just a sappy person that enjoyed a sappy book that nobody else cared for. BUT, then I actually read the reviews. These reviews seemed to be written by the sarcastic know-it-all types that I really don’t like. People couldn’t actually explain in a clear why they didn’t like the book. Half of them didn’t finish it. And that is one of my biggest pet peeves- DO NOT REVIEW A BOOK IF YOU CAN’T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO FINISH IT. Ugh, it just really gets to me. Some people drew parallels to Twilight, which I guess I can see, but it didn’t bother me. All in all, I liked this book and the poetic nature of it, and I would recommend it. Just not to the jerks that like to talk badly about a book they were too lazy to finish. I thought that it set up good family dynamics, and made you want to read the next one.
Rating: 4 stars. I rated it 5 stars on Goodreads right after I finished it, but upon evaluation, I think it is more of a 4-star. Still good, though!
Other Works by Maggie Stiefvater: The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Boys, The Scorpio Races, Books of Faerie.