Writer's Book Club

SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater

Welcome to the debut of the Writer’s Book Club! As I announced last month, the book for December is SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater . . . and the discussion of it begins today! For more details about the WBC or SHIVER, see my earlier post.

To keep from spoiling the book for those who haven’t read it yet, I’ll post the discussion questions in the comments of this post. If you have read the book, click on “Comments” to respond with your thoughts. If you haven’t read SHIVER yet, then what are you waiting for?? Go out and get it—I want to learn from your opinions!

Remember to be respectful of everyone, and the WBC should run smoothly. By the way, we’ll meet again on January 6th for the discussion of our next book:  WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, appropriate for ages nine and up. It’s an intriguing story with a little bit of science fiction weaved in. The focus of my questions will be on foreshadowing. Order it from the library or put it on your wish list!

Let the speculation begin!

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42 thoughts on “SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (if you feel like answering them. Or you can say whatever you want! Chime in with more questions and thoughts as you like!):

    1. SHIVER alternates between the point-of-views of Grace and Sam, but always in first person POV (as opposed to books with multiple third person POVs or just one first person POV). How did you like this writing style? Was it seamless and enlightening, or confusing and distracting? Did you have to read the chapter headings to know who was narrating, or were the two voices distinct?

    2. Speaking of chapter headings, did you like the name tags? How did you feel about the temperature info?

    3. Was the pacing too slow, too fast, or just right? Is it a character-driven story or a plot-driven story?

    4. Stiefvater used some unique formatting throughout the book (page 88 is just one example: “I was here [new line] and nowhere else.” Page 369 is another example.). Did you like or dislike her formatting choices? Why do you think she chose those specific places to stray from the norm?

    5. What part did you enjoy the most—the romance, the supernatural, or the plot itself (including the mystery of Jack, Beck, the possible cure, etc)?

    Feel free to add anything . . . favorite characters or scenes, thoughts on the writing style, Grace’s wolfish tendencies, etc.

  2. Okay,
    My library only got the book in on Monday, and I haven’t had much time to read, but I’m over half way done with my first reading of the book. That being said, every single one of my comments are subject to change. Before I critique anything, I like to read it at least twice all the way through. But here are my thoughts so far.

    First of all, Mrs. Rowan (I never know what to call you on this sight) you already know my feelings concerning first-person point of view. So unless others want to hear it, I won’t repeat it here, other than to say that a book that alternates, such as this one, not only has the strengths and weaknesses of first-person, but also has the added challenge of making sure that the reader understands which character’s viewpoint we are following at any particular point. Maggie does a good job with this, both by keeping the chapters brief and by slightly changing the style of writing. I only lost who’s viewpoint I was reading twice and had to go back to the chapter title, and that was due more to my being tired than any fault of hers. I did note once that I was thinking how can Sam know what Grace is thinking, but I cannot remember where.

    Strenghts: Maggie (I refuse to type her last name) writes concisely; has a good story pace and pretty much keeps that pace up; she is engaging and easy to read; she is inventive (I love her twist on the whole werewolf thing).

    Weaknesses (I noticed these because many of her weakness are also mine): She struggles with descriptive detail, almost seeming like she is forcing the details in there because she has to; she sometimes is too concise; she doesn’t stick to her characters’ “character.”

    Let me give a few examples of that last one: Grace is supposed to be an introverted book worm. She shouldn’t be the one initiating kisses and physical contact. Introverts wait for the other person to initiate contact. Beck – I still cannot believe that he would bite humans just to continue his pack. There was no previous indication that he could do that. Paul, maybe, Shelby, definitely, but not Beck. He is the one who taught Sam to love his human side. I rather see Beck as the one who would get upset if such a thing happened, and then tried to help out the unfortunate young people. Sam – he is a music type, always writing lyrics in his head and trying to come up with tunes for them. Yet we never see him lounging at a piano or with a guitar in his hand. Rather we see him reading novels and poetry when he has idle time. Seems rather inconsistent to me. Most music types I know are not book worms and vice versa (Our twin neices exempting – man are they brilliant or what)

    I have another problem with Sam’s character. Half the time Maggie portrays him as the strong, noble, romantic type, and half the time as the insecure, about to become a wolf permanently type. I personally would have preferred them to be two separate characters that Grace agonizes over. Sam’s inner conflict with his wolf self is more than enough of a personal crisis without him having a split personality as well.

    Okay, gotta answer your questions now:
    1. I’ve already answered this one a little, and my post is getting too long.
    2. I loved the name tags and the temperature info. A couple times I had to go back to the chapter heading to see who is talking (as mentioned above). The temp info gave a hint as to whether Sam would be struggling or not.
    3. Pacing was fine. I think it was supposed to be a character driven story (see my views on that above), but it has an excellent plot.
    4. This is still my first read through – I haven’t noticed her formatting yet.
    5. Believe it or not, I enjoyed the romance the best so far. (If you ever, ever tell your hubby that, I will NEVER speak to you again – oh wait, that might not be a threat. Okay, I’ll think up some appropriate punishment – oh yeah, this also goes for the twins as well, don’t you dare tell your uncle)

    Sorry I went into greater detail about the negatives and not the positives. Unfortunately, that tends to be a trait of mine. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the book so far, and would definitely recommend it to people.

    Also, sorry I bored you with such a long post. Okay, I’m actually done.

    • Look at you, Mr. Pat, jumping in first with comments when you haven’t even finished the book yet! LOL. And your post wasn’t boring—I was laughing through most of it. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the book so far . . . though I cringe to think how many negative comments you would have for a book you DIDN’T like! 😀

      I hope you’ll come back here after you finish the book. You might change your mind about Beck. And Sam does have a guitar scene later on. Maybe Grace doesn’t have a piano at her house? Since Sam spends most of his time there, he has to make do with what she has. But I think it’s okay for him to be a bookworm, too; he did work summers at the bookstore, after all. And if our brilliant nieces can pull off books and music, why not Sam? 😀

      I also hope that you’ll provide examples later on of Sam being the strong, noble, romantic type. I thought most of the time he felt insecure, like he didn’t deserve Grace because he’s part wolf . . . which would explain why she is always having to initiate kisses, etc. Nothing romantic would happen if it was just up to Sam! I can’t imagine Grace being that forward with any other guy; but with Sam, she’s known him (in a way) since they were kids. She always loved him as a wolf; they only have a limited time (in theory) when he’s human; I think she’s trying to make the most of the little time they have together.

      I agree with the strengths you mentioned. I, too, thought Maggie did a good job with the alternating POVs and the pacing (which is tricky to maintain with a character-driven story). Not sure about the description . . . I’ll have to go back and reread with that in mind. I didn’t notice it the first time. I remember liking the setting—autumn in the woods—and some of the metaphors she used. I loved the temp info. If it was cold, it automatically increased the tension before I even began reading the chapter.

      Romance, eh? I’m both surprised and not—hard to explain. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t dream of telling the hubby. 😀

      By the way, just call me Erin. Mrs. Rowan makes me feel old! Thanks for taking the time to discuss the book so thoroughly!

  3. Okay, examples of Sam being the strong romantic type (I felt bad when I reread my post and didn’t have any examples, but thought the post was too long to add to): Whenever Grace wants to kiss him, he’s the strong one and stops the kiss. When he takes her out on the ‘Real Date’ to the bookstore, he tells her that he wants to do things the right way. When he thinks of how Beck and Paul see him, he thinks that he’s the next logical choice for leadership of the pack. When he thinks of Shelby, he thinks she just wants him for his power.
    All of this contrasts with how he is squeamish; hesitant; scared to death of his future permanent change into a wolf, etc.
    But like you said, I haven’t finished it yet, so opinions might change. Plus, I’d like to reread it before I have any permanent views.
    Also, to make my point a little clearer about her descriptive language – it just seems that that is when her writing is the most awkward.

    • Okay, but those examples could also be interpreted as uneasiness. Maybe he stops the kiss because he doesn’t think he deserves her. The real date could be an attempt at something normal, something Grace would have with a human guy. Sam wants to be human so he can be with Grace and deserve her. And even if he is the next logical choice for pack leadership, that doesn’t mean he WANTS it. I got the impression that he didn’t want the responsibility.

      What was I saying earlier about not disagreeing with everything you say? LOL! Isn’t this fun?? 😀

  4. Oh yeah, I wanted to add this: Now I haven’t read too many books that are written by women, but with in 1st person of a male; but it seems to me that those I’ve read have that male as a man with ‘knight in shining armor’ type of morals (I don’t know how else to explain it). Protecting the female’s virtue and such. And frankly, I’m tired of it, and perhaps that’s why I’m venting about Sam’s characterization.

    • LOL, now this I can actually agree with! You know why that is, don’t you?? Women writers are daydreaming about the perfect, impossible man! That was a huge generalization on my part, and obviously not always true … but sometimes it is. That’s why women need a male CP—to keep their male characters honest!

  5. Oh yeah (I love discussing these things with you – we have such different POV’s). I can agree with most of what you said up there, but the part about Sam being the next logical leader of the pack. Wolf packs not only want, but need, the strongest to be the leader. Sam clearly is NOT the strongest, thus that doesn’t fit his character.

    • I’ll have to reread the wolf parts again, because I’m not remembering them clearly. I’m not sure if Sam is the logical next leader or not. Was it only because he had been a wolf longer than the rest? I’ll get back to you on that later …

  6. You made a comment earlier about how you’d shudder to see my negative comments of a book I didn’t like.

    I wouldn’t have any. If I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t take the time. It wouldn’t be worth it. The more negative and positive comments I have about a book, the more I liked it.

    Man, I must be the weirdest guy on the planet!

    • Actually, I can understand that. I don’t post reviews or discussions of books I don’t like. Just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean someone else won’t like it! No need to bias others with my negative opinions.

  7. I keep wanting to go away back to work, but keep getting sucked back in. After this, I’m logging off. I got too much to do today.

    I don’t think the pulling away from the kisses can be interpreted as uneasiness or hesitancy, because at other times he has no problem kissing her or inviting her to kiss (one of the times he drops her off to school) but when she starts to open her lips, he pulls away. He’s being NOBLE. How boring.

    Okay, I’m done. I’m gone. Let better people talk now.

    Cya.

    • My website is an addiction! Woohoo! 😀

      Noble = boring. LOL. I’ll have to remember that!

      Have fun at work! Thanks for hanging out, and talk to you soon!

  8. I can’t believe I came home from school today and you two have had an entire debate without me. 😦 A curse on school and its burning chlorine!
    Anyhoo, I have to admit that I didn’t reread this, so I’m a little rusty on the details.

    1. I loved the alternating point of views- they gave me a break from one person’s thinking. Not that I didn’t like both Sam and Grace, but it was nice to have two views of an event, like the wolves attacking Grace just in the beginning.

    2. I honestly forgot to read the temperature every time I got to a chapter because I wanted so much to know what happened next. That being said,

    3. I thought the pacing was just right. At times, I found myself struggling to concentrate. I don’t know if its so much that I didn’t like that part, more like I was so tired from reading at 2 in the morning to focus.

    4. Unlike other books I’ve read, I actually noticed this and fell in love with it. It wasn’t like reading fragments, written just for emphasis. It was more like reading poetry, lyrics even, thoughts that run through the mind more than once. They were like thoughts that one thinks slowly so as to savor them (especially pg. 369).

    5. I enjoyed the romance with the plot. If it had been too much romance or too much action, I would’ve been bored. Maggie had just the right amount of each, though.

    I’m surprised now, skimming back through the book (which I did for about 20 minutes- I’d forgotten how much I loved it), that my favorite parts (two are tied) is not between Sam and Grace, but between Sam and Grace’s mom (in the studio) and between Grace and Olivia (way, way, way at the end). I was concentrated on Sam and Grace so much the first time I read it that I totally forgot about Olivia’s friendship with Grace- or who she is. *sheepish grin* I remember now, though. 🙂 Their friendship feels like a realistic friendship- excluding the werewolf part, of course. My friends are certainly not happy with each other (or even talking to each other) a lot of the time. G. & O.’s fight at the beginning was realistic and it was easy to understand how they could be angry w/ each other, but also want them to become friends again.
    I also liked, almost more than when they were actually together, when Grace would watch Sam from her window and he, in wolf form, would watch her from the woods. Their relationship with one another was already established even before Sam became human. (Which is saying something when I have trouble establishing relations between two humans. 🙂
    I agree with you, Uncle Pat, about Sam having different personalities, BUT I think that’s the way it should be. Our personalities are not one thing- like noble or insecure- but a mixture. Put a little music on and start talking about books/music/art/etc., and I’ll shimmy right out of my shell. Take that away and awkwardness ensures. Human nature is never fully stable, our thoughts fluctuate: especially when you’re a teenager. Add the fact that he could change at any moment, I can understand how his personality would change a little bit. I will admit, however, that I’m tired of reading about the noble man (which is why I read John Green’s books- they’re not non-noble, if that’s a word, just nerds 🙂
    I should get to bed, but one last thing: rereading back to the golden wood scene and I realize how close it seems to Lothlorien (somewhere in there, I remember Grace saying some variation of how time was frozen and how, after she had her dream of the golden wood, she wanted to run to it) If there’s one thing I hate, it’s similarities to Tolkien (as unavoidable, I must admit, as they are). *grumbles*

    Sleep here I come…
    Love,
    Sav
    p.s. when I just typed my name, I accidentally typed Sam. It must be the late hour when I giggle out loud at that. 🙂
    p.s.s. thank you for calling Vic & I brilliant. I wholeheartedly return the compliment and question your sanity when you describe ME as brilliant 🙂

    • Burning chlorine? Oh, from the pool? LOL, cursed school! If it makes you feel better, Pat and I were supposed to be working, so we kinda cheated by having our big debate instead. 😀 And how could anyone read your post and NOT think you’re brilliant? You’ve already surpassed my musical expertise and my French expertise, and you’ll no doubt surpass my writing expertise in a year or so! Unless, of course, you consume vast amounts of burning chlorine in the mean time. 😀

      1. I, too, liked having two POVs for the attack on Grace.
      2. I think I forgot to read the temps sometimes; but when I did read it, I liked it.
      3. I have the 2 AM problem a lot, LOL.
      4. “thoughts that one thinks slowly so as to savor them.” See, this is what I mean about you being brilliant. That idea hadn’t even occurred to me. Intriguing . . .
      5. Yes, I like a nice balance. In fact, most of my favorite books have good balance of elements.

      Was Sam in the studio the only part of the book where he actually sang/played guitar? I love that part, too. Olivia and Grace did seem like realistic friends; I was glad they reunited in a way. Grace and wolf-Sam watching each other—angst!! The longing is bittersweet.

      And, um, I know it would be very immature of me to take sides . . . but I can’t help it. Pat, I think Sav showed you up with her thoughts on personalities. 🙂 We act differently in different situations. However, it’s always a concern if a reader notices out-of-character behavior that pulls the reader from the story. How can a writer combat that if it bothers one reader but not another?

      John Green does write realistic male characters . . . but Green is a guy, so he has an advantage! What about women authors who write male 1st person POVs? I thought Laurie Halse Anderson did a good job in TWISTED. Stephenie Meyer wrote a little in Jacob’s POV, and I liked that. Jacob wasn’t too noble; he had no qualms about going after Bella (you know, before the whole Nessie thing). Which is probably why I like Jake better than Edward at times; Edward is noble to a fault. I’ll have to think of other examples . . .

      I wonder how many writers have been inspired by Tolkien. Thousands? Perhaps it was unintentional, or perhaps it was a tribute. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your brilliance. 😀 Now I’ll be rubbing that in for awhile, LOL.

      Love, Erin

      • I hated, yes hated, the scene in the studio with Sam playing the guitar for Grace’s mom. Not because it was a bad scene or anything, but because the first person that he sings his love song to is her mom! Not Grace! That’s just wrong, disappointing, and completely unromantic.
        “Puts his arms across chest and pouts!”

    • I’m sorry we had this whole debate while you were in school. I am NOT sorry that I’m done with school forever! Ha ha!
      Oh yeah, you forgot one other area that you are brilliant in (not just music, books, etc.) – tennis. You and Vic both are way beyond where I was at your age, in all of that stuff.
      Hope you had a good night’s sleep.

      • LOL, I see your point about singing to her mom. But I was so eager for him to sing, I was willing to take what I could get. And I liked how he was sitting for his portrait. The combination of art and music in that scene makes me all tingly. 😀

        Maybe he was too shy to sing it to Grace first? I don’t know.

  9. First, I have to say that I have enjoyed reading Pat’s comments and your responses, Erin. I can’t wait till more people respond.

    Okay, you have to remember that I am a reader, not a writer and, if I understand correctly, most of the people here are writers or aspiring writers. So my comments are strictly from a READER’S point of view. Also, (I have to get all my qualifying statements out of the way before I begin), this is not the type of book that I would usually read. In spite of that, I truly liked it and I’m glad that you selected this book, Erin. I always like to broaden my horizons!

    Another qualifying statement – I’m usually trying to read in between chores, so it seems like I’m sneaking in chapters here and there. I’m also a fast reader, so I sometimes miss the subtle nuances that others will catch. I read quickly through descriptions of the woods, autumn, houses, etc to get to the dialogue. A few times I found myself going back to find things I thought I missed, to realize it was something that actually hadn’t been revealed yet . . . like how Sam came to be a werewolf in the first place.

    Okay, I’m ready to begin!!!

    1) I liked the changing POV. As I said in an earlier post, I am now reading ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ by Jodi Picoult, and she is telling the story using about 8 different characters. I think it gives the reader greater insight into the characters and why they behave the way they do. I don’t remember having trouble with who was narrating, but I did read the headings, so I knew. I do remember that if it seemed like Sam, for example, had several chapters in a row, I would look ahead to see how much longer till I could hear Grace’s POV, and vice-versa.

    2) The headings and temperature: I didn’t really pay much attention to the temperature. I know that it was supposed to add to the suspense about Sam changing back, but realistically I knew that he wasn’t going to change back till closer to the end of the book, or it would have been a shorter book. It was a little predictable in that way, but that was just part of the story.

    3) I thought the pace was fine. I’m assuming it was character-driven, but I bow to your expertise in this area, Erin.

    4) Formatting? Direct me to a post where I can read what formatting is and then I can respond to this question.

    5) I probably enjoyed the romance the most. I am, by nature, a practical person. When I said earlier that this wasn’t my type of book, I was mostly referring to the supernatural element of the book. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around werewolves in any kind of realistic way. That’s was the challenge for me in reading this book. Having said that, I have recently become a Dean Koontz fan, and he uses the supernatural in a BIG way in most of his books. That’s one of the reasons that I had stayed away from his books. I started with ‘The Husband’ and ‘The Good Guy’, which don’t really have the supernatural element, and I was hooked from then on.

    I’m going to agree with Pat on Beck. I couldn’t believe he bit people on purpose. Why continue the pack? I didn’t think he had a good reason for doing it. When Grace wanted to meet him, I kept thinking “No, no!! Stay away from him.” I really thought that the book would end up with Grace becoming a wolf. Also, I’m assuming Beck was a wolf when he bit the newbies, but he’s human when bringing them to his house. Maybe I missed something there.

    I thought that there were some inconsistencies with what Sam could remember as a wolf, and what the others in the pack could remember as wolves. Sam obviously remembered Grace, and remembered seeing her without clothes – he was a peeping tom-wolf!!! And the sending ‘mind pictures’ to each other as wolves was a stretch, I thought.

    Pat also remarked that Sam wasn’t the next logical leader of the pack because, as a human, he didn’t seem strong enough. However, in the book, (if I understood it correctly) Beck was the human leader but Paul was the wolf leader. It seems to me that Ms. Stiefvater was trying to show that their human characteristics didn’t necessarily match their wolf characteristics. Wolf-Sam got the rest of the pack to leave Grace alone when she was being bitten, but Human-Sam was a mass of insecurities. To his credit, it would be hard to be anything else, given his abnormal lifestyle and the fact that he was a teenage boy in love for the first time.

    The other problem I had with the book was Grace keeping Sam in her room without her parents ever knowing about it!!!! Wow . . . her parents were really clueless!! I kept wanting to add a disclaimer to teenage girls reading this book – Attention girls, do not try this at home!

    Wow, I’ve rambled long enough. I just love to give my opinion, though! I’m anxious to read more posts from the rest of your readers, Erin. Pat’s comments made me think about different aspects of the book, so I look forward to what others think, too. Good book!!! I’m passing it on to my neighbor girl (she’s 16) so that she can read it and comment as well.

    Oh BTW – I did disagree with Pat in one area – I am a ‘music type’ and a ‘bookworm’ both, so I didn’t have a problem with Sam being that, also. I really thought the two went together rather well.

    That’s it for now!

    • Kim, you act as if the reader’s POV is inferior. 😀 In reality, it is of the upmost importance, because the reader is always right! Besides, I like a diversity of opinions in a book club, and I loved reading your thoughts. I’m glad you liked the book, even if it wasn’t your norm!

      1. In the Picoult book, are the different POVs 1st person (“I”) or 3rd person (“he/she”)? That makes a big difference when it comes to keeping track of multiple characters. But I definitely agree with you about the greater insight into characters.

      2. Look at you! You’re thinking like a writer! 😀

      3. LOL, I’m no expert. I guess I would call this a character-driven book; but the pacing and plot are so well-done, it’s hard to qualify it as one or the other.

      4. Hmm, I don’t think I’ve written a post about formatting (mental note for the future). Okay, turn to page 369 (hopefully our page numbers are the same, cause I have an advanced copy of the book). At the bottom of the page, it says:

      he
      was
      just
      Sam.

      So she wrote one word on each line, with a funny indentation to boot. This obviously goes against every rule of grammar and mechanics . . . and I love it! But I was curious what others thought of it, and the possible reasons behind it.

      5. I can understand that. Thank you for giving the book a try, despite everything! And thanks for passing it on!

      About Beck—there’s a paragraph on p. 339 that explains why he bit those kids. He didn’t do it against their will. I don’t know if it was a good enough reason, but at least he didn’t force them into it.

      I’m still hazy about the wolf leaders; I haven’t had time to reread those parts. But what exactly constitutes the “strongest” wolf? Physically the strongest? What about being the smartest, or the most clear-thinking—does that count?”

      LOL, only in fiction would parents never know about a strange boy living in their house! 😀

      Yes, you are definitely both a music type and book type. You would get along well with my nieces, Sav and Vicki. They both play exceptional piano, and Vicki also plays clarinet and Sav plays flute. Music and books are both forms of creativity, in my opinion.

      • Beck (I really like that name, BTW):
        I remember the paragraph on p. 339 but, to me, it didn’t fit. How do you ‘recruit’ someone to be a werewolf? Now there’s a conversation!!! “Excuse me, have you ever thought about . . .” Again, maybe I’m being too practical about this.

        Plus, on page 186 when Sam sees Beck and he has the kids in the back of the SUV, there is no indication that the kids were there willingly. In fact, Stiefvater gives the distinct impression that it was quite the opposite!!! The boy says, “Help”, and their hands were tied with zip ties. Maybe the kids were initially willing but felt they got more than they bargained for! I also got the impression that Sam was the youngest until these kids came along, so why did Beck need to keep the house open? I don’t know, but the whole thing just didn’t ring true for me.

        It really seemed to me that Stiefvater wanted to add some conflict between Sam and Beck, but then tried to resolve it with one little paragraph . . . like that would explain away everything that had happened previously.

        Obviously Shelby liked being a wolf, but Sam didn’t, and I got the impression that Jack and Beck didn’t. I would think that they would be discouraging people to become werewolves, not encouraging them!

        I’m sure I missed something vital in all this, so I gladly welcome attempts to ‘enlighten’ me about this part of the story!

      • Kim, I don’t think you’re being too practical; it does sound like a very strange conversation! Maybe that’s why Stiefvater didn’t go into more detail . . . because it wouldn’t ring true? I would’ve liked a better resolution, too. Everything happened so quickly at the end, and I know she was trying to maintain the tension and pace, but the story line with Beck (and the Shelby story line, which Ellie mentioned) suffered because of it.

    • Kim, I really enjoyed your comments. They helped me to look at aspects of the book in different ways. One of your comments though, floored me:
      “Ms. Stiefvater was trying to show that their human characteristics didn’t necessarily match their wolf characteristics.”
      I got the completely opposite impression! I thought Maggie went out of her way to show that the wolves kept their human personality traits, and that some of them would become stronger when they became a wolf, ie. Jake’s anger.
      Other than that, I agree with everything you said. Thanks for the great comments, and keep them coming.

    • “Oh BTW – I did disagree with Pat in one area – I am a ‘music type’ and a ‘bookworm’ both, so I didn’t have a problem with Sam being that, also. I really thought the two went together rather well.”

      ROFL. I guess I’m the only bookworm here who has absolutely no musical talent to speak of. =)

      • Pat, you’re not the only one! Kim taught me piano lessons for about four years, so everything I know I owe to her. I have no natural talent at all! But I know several people who are both types, so I can understand it. 🙂

  10. PS. Sav posted while I was writing, so I didn’t see her response until after I posted my own.

    I agree with her about the relationship between Olivia and Grace. I felt sorry for Olivia, though. Grace was so caught up in her new-found relationship with Sam, that she didn’t have any time for Olivia. Olivia had a lot to handle all by herself.

    Sav – I also like your explanation about Sam’s personality changes. We all have areas of strength and weakness. When I’m standing in front of my music class, I have a lot of confidence, but lift up a car hood and I become a babbling fool!

    Now I am done posting. I’m going to bed. Really.

    I’ll just refresh the page one more time to see if anyone else has posted . . .

    • The book club is addicting—YES!

      Grace was caught up in her relationship, but I think she would’ve made time for Olivia. On page 345, it says Grace had been trying to call Olivia, but she couldn’t reach her (and Grace’s car was crashed, so she couldn’t go anywhere). Then Olivia finally calls on p. 347, and they get to reunite. After that, Grace was able to help her.

      I, too, agree about personality changes! Makes us humans downright unpredictable, it does. 😀

      Thanks, Kim!

  11. I like this book club already!
    I have lots of notes about her writing style, but will back off from giving all of them (unless called upon).
    I liked this book. It was a fun read. For a character-driven plot, I thought she did a great job of keeping the plot interesting. Right when I expected her to write about one thing- she’d surprise me. Her settings were delightful. Instead of school cafeteria, we had woods. Instead of old restaurant date, we had book store date. She did a great job with settings.
    I thought her POV was alright. I still prefer to hang with one protagonist (or omniscient), instead of two, so unless an author is incredibly magnificent at switching POVs (like Barbara Kingsolver with The Poisonwood Bible) then stick to one POV. I really think the book could’ve been stronger if she stuck with either Sam or Grace’s POV.
    I enjoyed Sam’s personality a lot. I think she had great descriptions of what it would be like to be half wolf, half boy. I was definitely rooting for him.

    It’s sometimes hard in novels to summarize for the reader what is happening, without “telling”. I think it’s so hard to do it gracefully. But here, Tiefvater did it really well, I think:

    “I watched her run in the house and slunk down into my seat. I couldn’t quite believe that I was hiding in a car in the middle of a freezing cold night, waiting for a girl to come running back out and tell me the coast was clear to come sleep in her room. Not just any girl. THE girl. Grace.”

    I enjoyed her details. I thought almost all of her details and descriptions mattered to the story, which I really appreciated. Like, here is a superior example of adding a detail about the setting, and making it add to the plot:

    “The fan for the central heating hummed, sending subtle vibrations through my bare feet, remingding me that it was the only thing keeping me in this human form.”

    Overall, great book! It was so fun to read!
    There were some things that my inner editor caught. Now these are me just giving a critical eye to the book, even though I loved it. Some things that I think her editor should’ve looked closer at. For example, here’s a paragraph that I think contradicts itself at worst, and is unclear at best:

    “We listened to the wolves howling outside the window, the ones who hadn’t changed. Or who would never change again. And we buried our heads against each other so we couldn’t hear anything but the racing of our hearts.”

    Okay- so do they want to listen to the wolves or to the beating of their hearts? I would’ve changed that in some way. Plus, no ear can really hear a heart, it’s always felt, which brings out the registered nurse in me:

    I wish she would’ve done more research on meningitis and fevers and drawing blood. I LOVE fantasy, but she tested her credibility when Isabel drew blood, saying, “everyone can do this, right?” Um, no. Even seasoned nurses have to try three or four times to poke a vein. Plus, what are the chances that that man’s blood type was the same as Sam’s? It was a big credibility issue for me, and it kinda felt like she went the easy way out.
    The whole story, Rachel was talking about their vacation, and so I expected her to draw on that subplot, and have Grace and Sam move there or something. But she left it empty. The vacation never played into the story.
    Same with Shelby. She was a great sub plot- but she was never big enough to matter. I wanted her as a true antagonist! Where was she during the climax? I laughed and was like, “what the heck?” when I read:

    “…Just in time to see a white wolf standing by the edge of the parking lot. Shelby. Alive, just like Sam thought. . . triumph in her eyes as she turned and disappeared into the darkness.”

    She should’ve given more than that. Shelby had great potential to ruin their lives, but instead, she just played a weak role

    • I like the club, too! I’m having a blast reading all the intelligent comments. Ellie, you are so prepared! Next time I will get my butt in gear. 😀

      I loved the settings. I meant to have a discussion question about the setting and I forgot. But I love the woods in autumn anyway, and it just seemed like the perfect background for this story—beautiful, but also mysterious. And the cold winter always ready to pounce like a villain.

      I enjoyed having both POVs; but with that, there’s always a risk of losing the reader. I wanted the voices to differ more. If there could only be one POV, I’d choose Sam’s.

      Thank you for sharing your specific examples about details and summarizing; very good points. And isn’t it ironic how FANTASY must still be grounded in REALITY? Some people think it’s easy to write fantasy because you can “make things up.” But it’s not easy at all; after using your imagination, you have to double-check everything for credibility! Thanks for pointing that out.

      I was confused about the vacation subplot, too. What was the reasoning behind that? Just the slight pull of the “normal” world? Shelby did have great potential, but I wonder if she might play a bigger role in the sequel? Hopefully we’ll see more of her as a future antagonist. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel!

  12. Here’s a line that I absolutely LOVED. I really liked Beck, and totally wanted more of the pack (besides backstory of them).

    “I remember being intrigued by the idea of school-in-a-box, just-add-water-and-Sam.”

    But that brings me to another quip. I thought there were altogether too much, WAY WAY WAY too much backstory. There was one whole chapter of Sam just thinking about his backstory. It slowed down the plot too much. I love this rule in backstory: give backstory on a need-to-know basis. Definitely didn’t need to know 9/10ths of all the backstories.

    Like Dario’s dogs. It’s an interesting read, which explains Sam’s character, but slows down the book. It would’ve been much cooler if she’d integrated that part of his character in an action scene. During the fight with the dogs, I found that this line lost her credibility:

    “I didn’t think of anything – my mind was far away, in the house, someplace warm, listening to music, reading a poem, anywhere but here, killing.”

    I don’t get that. If you were getting ravaged by dogs, I think the adrenalin would have you pretty focused on getting out alive, not daydreaming about where else you want to be. She should definitely stick to the romance writing (loved it!) than the actions scenes (not so great).

    The last comment I have about her writing style, is that she didn’t stick true to her characters. I agree with Pat in that both Grace and Sam did some very out-of-character things. For instance, like here, when Grace is telling Sam how she likes him:

    “You’re beautiful and sad…just like your eyes. You’re like a song that I heard when I was a little kid but forgot I knew until I heard it again.”

    I really liked Grace’s personality, she was interesting. But she always complained about not being poetic, how she was so stoic . . . but I rarely saw it. When you were in Grace’s POV, she didn’t explain things stoically or unromantically, or practically, she spoke the same as Sam did. Tiefvater kept having to say, “Grace, you’re so stoic” instead of just showing us how stoic she was. There are three other examples of Grace saying something poetic, which were romantic, just I don’t think they fit with her personality.
    Erin- you’ve caught me in that before. You’ve written, “would your character really respond that way?” I love it that you help me keep my characters in line!

    I can’t wait to read the next book! Erin- what are your thoughts on her writing?

    • You know, maybe that’s why I’m having trouble finding the flaws. I must’ve skimmed the backstories to return to the present with Sam and Grace. Their relationship was my favorite aspect of the book, and I think it was probably Maggie’s favorite aspect to write. She really shines in the romance area.

      I totally agree about Dario’s dogs. I can’t imagine spacing out during a dog attack. Is there a way to incorporate more of the wolves without getting too much backstory? If Beck and some of the other wolves had been at the house earlier in the story, when Sam first showed up, we could have seen some real interaction within the pack (but then we would’ve lost the angst of Sam being there alone and wondering what to do about Jack, feeling the pressure of leadership, etc). So what to do about that?

      Okay, my thoughts on her writing—I love her word choices. I am a sucker for beautiful writing, unique metaphors, and lyrical phrases. I can almost ignore the plot and characters and just fall in love with the words. If she’s describing the woods, or first kisses, or the bittersweet angst, then I am beyond happy. The hole in my happiness (which you also pointed out) is that the “voices” of Sam and Grace don’t differ enough, in my opinion. I read the chapter headings, and I could keep track of who was narrating . . . but it wasn’t distinct enough (THE POISONWOOD BIBLE is a great example of FOUR distinct voices). Occasionally, Sam would think via song lyrics, and that was awesome—I wanted more of that. If Sam’s voice had been all lyrical and poetic, and Grace’s voice had been more pragmatic, then I think the book would’ve been much stronger. So I loved the writing . . . but at times it wasn’t logical.

  13. Erin- earlier in this post, you wrote:

    “Just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean someone else won’t like it! No need to bias others with my negative opinions.”

    That is true, and I respect people who don’t bash things for the fun of it. But I hope that you write about what you didn’t like in the book as well. We can like something whole heartedly, yet still see it’s flaws. I liked the book- but I could still see it could’ve been changed to be better. Any thoughts?

    • Okay, this is a good point. The book club is supposed to be a learning experience, after all, and we need to know the flaws to learn from it.

      This is embarrassing to admit . . . but I don’t easily find flaws in stories (unless it’s a huge issue, or a tiny grammar mistake—those pop right out at me, for some reason). When I’m reading a book for fun, my first instinct is to trust the author and just go with the story. It takes something major to draw me out. If I’m critiquing for someone, I read through it once just for enjoyment, and then read it a second time with an “editor’s eye.” Even then, I have to think really hard about big picture issues and out-of-character problems. You’re a much better editor than I am, Ellie. I’m sure I’m learning more from all of you guys than you’re learning from me! *sheepish* I read your comments and think, “Oh, I agree with that flaw.” But I didn’t notice it the first time around. I should’ve reread SHIVER with a critical eye, but I ran out of time. You should be leading this discussion, Ellie! LOL

  14. OH, and another thing-
    I loved the format. I thought she did a creative job and find those short sentences gripping and powerful. For some reason, I loved the chapter when Sam has just been shot and is going to the hospital. It is complete gibberish and strangely formatted, but I really really liked it.

    • I love that chapter, too! It IS powerful, and it seemed to perfectly fit the situation. Who would be thinking logically right after a gunshot wound?

      The formatting is fascinating to me. I want to study and analyze it, learn its secrets. And yeah, I’m a nerd.

  15. No Way! You’re amazing at leading this book club! I like reading your comments on the story and you’ll never, ever, ever, ever convince me that you’re not a good editor. I have eighteen chapters of my re-written story that prove otherwise.

    After more thinking, I realized that I liked how Sam was ashamed after they had sex.
    Throughout all of high school and college, every friend that I talked to after their “first night” was ashamed, even if they did not REGRET it. Though Sam and Grace thought they were with the right person, there is still that ache of guilt because they weren’t married- I think God puts that ache in there. I thought it was a very realistic detail for Tiefvater to add.

    And even though it is realistic (since most teens have sex with their boyfriend/girlfriend), I am not a fan of YA sex scenes at all. I think that it’s irresponsible of writers to add them in such a nonchalant way. If a writer does decide to add sex- it better be done wisely and realistically. Add consequences. Add awkwardness (who’s “first time” is ever smooth?!) Sex adds a whole ‘nother appendage to a blossoming relationship. In real life, I have never met ANYONE who has said that they were glad they had sex as a teen. EVERY time they (Christians and non-Christians) voice heavy regret and wish they had waited until they were older. Sex does not equal romance. Writer’s have such a heavy influence on culture. On me. I hope they use their influence for the better, not worse.
    Ok. Hehe. I’m sure everyone knows now how strong that subject is for me. 🙂

    • Ellie,

      “Thanks for these comments:
      After more thinking, I realized that I liked how Sam was ashamed after they had sex.
      Throughout all of high school and college, every friend that I talked to after their “first night” was ashamed, even if they did not REGRET it. Though Sam and Grace thought they were with the right person, there is still that ache of guilt because they weren’t married- I think God puts that ache in there. I thought it was a very realistic detail for Tiefvater to add.

      And even though it is realistic (since most teens have sex with their boyfriend/girlfriend), I am not a fan of YA sex scenes at all. I think that it’s irresponsible of writers to add them in such a nonchalant way. If a writer does decide to add sex- it better be done wisely and realistically. Add consequences. Add awkwardness (who’s “first time” is ever smooth?!) Sex adds a whole ‘nother appendage to a blossoming relationship. In real life, I have never met ANYONE who has said that they were glad they had sex as a teen.”

      That’s sort of what I wanted to say, but you said it better.

    • Don’t hold back, Ellie—tell us how you really feel! 😀 I love your strong opinions! I know you and I have already discussed this, but it’s an important subject for others to consider, too. Like you said, I think there should be a good reason for YA sex scenes; because it’s “typical of today’s teens” is not a good enough reason. Showing consequences and awkwardness—those are better reasons. YA writers have a responsibility to their readers; they shouldn’t just throw in a sex scene to be edgy.

      Stiefvater handled it better than some authors I’ve read . . . but Sam had more qualms than Grace. I keep wondering how their relationship would have unfolded without the threat of wolfishness. If they’d been normal humans, would they have waited longer to have sex? I suppose it’s irrelevant, since then the story would be nonexistent.

      Thanks, Ellie, but I think YOU’RE amazing. 🙂

  16. I just wanted to drop by and say that I read the book. I think I finished last week and had to take a break from thinking about it.

    It was an interesting story but depressing. For me, anyways. I am pregnant so that may have something to do with it…but some of the scenes were just too heavy.

    For starters, the opening scene with Grace. I found something really disturbing about her lying in the snow peacefully waiting to be consumed by a pack of rabid wolves. It was just WRONG!

    But the downer didn’t stop there…everyone and every relationship is F#$@ed in one or another. And not just a little messed up, but fundamentally messed up. Now I have no trouble understanding dysfunction and less than perfect circumstances…but really…couldn’t there be one solid/nomral-ish person in this story? If another reader felt like there was, please tell me who cause I can’t recall!!!

    I liked the writing, the pacing was good…I didn’t mind the 1st person POV…the temperature reading was interesting but as a Canadian it didn’t mean much to me and I didn’t bother with finding out the conversion 😀 Although I did know when it was really cold 😀

    I think Maggie wrote a very intriguing story but it wasn’t my thing…I was hoping (really HARD!) till the very end that I would get a happy ending (because everything else was so depressing) and she doesn’t give it to us until the last bloody page!!! BAH!

    It made my heart hurt and I don’t want to think about the sadness EVER AGAIN! /raging pregnancy hormones

    • *tackles Syd* HEY!! I’m so glad you’re awake!! Thanks for reading and commenting, though I feel bad for depressing you. 😦 I’ve read MORE depressing stories . . . but I can see your point. I viewed it more as bittersweet angst; after all, it DOES have a happy ending, even if it’s not until the last page. Sam tends to mope throughout the story, but I thought Grace tried to live in the moment and make the most of their time. Overall, it was a sad story at times, but it didn’t depress me, and the sadness contributed to the beauty of the writing style (for me). But I’m hopelessly romantic and a sucker for pretty words. 😀

      A solid/normal-ish character . . . how about Rachel? Not that she got much screen time (too normal!), but I think she would qualify as solid?

      A sauna . . . hmm. Interesting. I wonder what the inner body temperature is after time in a sauna. Would it be as high as fever from meningitis? A sauna sounds like a good idea, but only if the inner temp was high enough. You’d have to roast yourself until you almost died, like Grace did. Maybe it’s not something a person could actually stand–he’d run out of the sauna from fear of dying. But stab him quickly with a needle–no backing out of that one! Sorry, I know I sound flippant. But I also think Jack would rather die than stay a werewolf. He held on to the hope that he would become human again, which is why he suffered through the meningitis. Depressing—yes. But for him, being a werewolf would’ve been MORE depressing.

      I thought of you when I asked the temperature question!! I thought, “Syd won’t even know the Celsius equivalent off the top of her head,” LOL.

      I’ve missed you!! And I don’t know what to get you for Christmas!! *hugs* Email me sometime!!

      • Sam is not just mopey…he is the saddest little boy I’ve ever seen. I felt so sorry for him…he was just pitiful. See my issue was that I really liked all the characters and the mythology but they were all just so pitiful. I’m sure Sam as a cured werewolf would have so much more potential.

        Grace was interesting as well and did live in the moment…but what a horrible childhood. Her parents are nuts, then she almost lets the wolves eat her, then she makes dinner for all those years…sheesh, that girl needs a break! And to top it off she ends up with mopey Sam??? Dammit! It’s sooo…pitiful! (and yes, I know I’ve said that 3 or 4 times already!)

        Who the hell is Rachel? Oh wait…that was one of her friends that’s only in like 3 scenes, right?

        *sigh* Anyways…it was a good story just really sad 😀

        I’ve missed you too and you don’t have to get me anything for Christmas! I’m still on a present high from the picture frame you sent me! Actually, I have an idea! Send me some pictures of the snow!! That’d be good…then I can pretend I’m there. We only got an inch of snow today 😦 I won’t be satisfied until the snow is piled up to at least our porch!

  17. Oh! I thought of another depressing point! Why would they give someone meningitis!!! They could have stuck themselves in a sauna for a few days! Couldn’t they have? I mean there were other options…giving Jack meningitis was just sad…and then he dies??!!! God, shoot me now. I mean, he might have deserved to die, but it’s sad way to go…they should have just shot him.

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