There's an old joke about TWILIGHT that you've probably heard: that it's the story of a teenage girl's struggle between necrophilia and bestiality, hurr hurr hurr. Well, here in TWILIGHT: Team Jacob Edition - *cough* - I mean, SHIVER, Maggie Stiefvater takes that a step further by writing about a girl named Grace who has romantic feelings for the wolf in her backyard. And when I say "wolf," that's not short for werewolf - before she even finds out that he can turn human (and oh, what rapturous joy that brings), she's fantasizing about the feeling of his fur under her fingers and dreaming about his eyes. She also won't ever shut up about wolves, and chats to her two friends about wolves constantly, and then is puzzled and irritated when they want to talk about other things that aren't wolves.
I might be the only person on the continental U.S. who hated THE RAVEN BOYS, but people kept telling me to give this author another chance, and I thought, "Well, okay, I did like TWILIGHT, and Jacob was cool, so maybe this will be okay." Superficially, it's a lot like TWILIGHT - it features a heroine who is wise beyond her years with absent-minded parents who she takes care of more than they take care of her; it features a supernatural love interest who likes the way the heroine smells and must fight against his nature in order to be with her, even if it results in his own death; it features an evil werewolf who is jealous of what the heroine represents and who decides to hunt, stalk, and attempt to kill her -
You can see where I'm going with this.
But comparing SHIVER to TWILIGHT is like comparing NIKE to ADIDAS or COKE to PEPSI or CHOCOLATE to VANILLA - there is only one clear winner. And spoiler, SHIVER is not that winner. First, the werewolf love interest is so lame. At least Edward had some of that Old World patriarchal charm, even if he could come across as controlling and creepy; it was obvious why he was so attractive - he was good looking and sophisticated and mature. Sam, on the other hand, is a droopy emo boy who composes poetry while they make love, and it is bad poetry, like the kind you see on Tumblr that doesn't make any sense but for some reason has thousands of reblogs. But the main reason this book gets one star is because of the heroine: Grace.
When she's not meditating on her favorite subject - wolf-lust - she's being a raging "See You Next Tuesday" to everyone in her life. The way she talks to her parents is absolutely disgusting; she is constantly snarking at them and disrespecting them and taking over their house and their things (do you pay for those things, girlfriend? is that why you feel free to take over your dad's study and then tell him he isn't getting it back?), but when they try to implement some actual parental control, she gets all bristly, like "how they try to do their job and be parents?" It's a real catch-22. But the disrespect doesn't stop there - when she brings Sam home to meet the folks, she gets angry that her mom is nice to her boyfriend, and slut-shames her own mom. OH MY GOD, CAN YOU NOT?!
I honestly don't understand why she has friends. When she's not talking about wolves, she's brushing off her friends or being rude. Everything that comes out of her mouth - that isn't some insipid drivel about how much she looooves Sam, that is - is either mean, rude, sarcastic, or brusque. She spends a great deal of time in this book looking at people coldly or speaking coldly, especially to her parents. She's even mean to Sam, telling him to shut up several times. OMG, can she die already, please? I think the only YA character I've hated more (that I wasn't actually supposed to hate) was CATH from FANGIRL. (Yet another book that is bewilderingly popular.)
The premise behind the werewolf transformations is also incredibly lame, so bear with me because ***SPOILERS*** werewolves transform based on temperature (so the temperature is always listed right below each chapter, so you know how cold it is, hence the title, SHIVER, because it's cold, get it?? so meta, wow), and when it's cold outside they turn into wolves, and when it's hot they turn into people - only after a certain number of years, they lose the ability to turn into people and just stay wolves. While reading this, I'm asking myself, "Why are they living somewhere so cold if this happens? Why not move to California where it basically never snows unless you live in the mountains?" But the author had an answer ready for this: moving to temperate places just makes you even more sensitive to small temperature changes, and you'll transform anyway. But ***SPOILERS*** Grace was bitten by wolves as a kid and didn't turn into a werewolf, because her neglectful parents "accidentally" (I think they were actually trying to murder this demon spawn) left her in the back of a car on a 100+-degree day while she was taking a nap, and she almost died, and apparently the heat + her fever cooked the werewolfiness right out of her. I AM NOT JOKING!!! So Grace & co. get the brilliant idea of infecting Sam and this other werewolf with meningitis, so they'll get high fevers that'll cook the werewolfiness out of them, too. I am shook with stupidity. How would this work, but moving somewhere temperate doesn't, Captain Cop-Out?
I can't with this series. I'll be the first to admit that TWILIGHT is not a great book, but it was fun and addictive and didn't have self-absorbed characters wallowing around in the pretentious prose of the narrative like it was some kind of smug, self-congratulatory swimming pool.
1 out of 5 stars