Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review - Shiver

On Thursday my post was about writing for entertainment versus writing with the idea of creating Art.

I'm afraid my meaning might've been misinterpreted. I didn't mean entertainment as in throwing out craft. I think it takes as much skill to write a strictly entertaining book as it does a Work of Art.

I was thinking more, for example, a writer like Dumas or Hemingway compared to someone like Melville or Faulkner. Then I finished reading Shiver, and I have to say, it fits beautifully into that concept.

I'm sorry, but I cannot toss Maggie Stiefvater's tale of doomed love and werewolves into my A+ pile.

The book got a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and I agree that her writing is at times stunning. Absolutely gorgeous.

There are passages describing the wolves and the forest that are so poetic, you can almost smell the earthy mildew of fall and the chill of winter coming...

It's really nice and very artistic.

And for the first half of the book, the romance between Sam and Grace is tense and engrossing. (He saved her life! It's his last summer as a human!)

But at about 60 percent in, the book literally stalled. I'm not kidding.

The poorly explained responses to situations, and the set-ups that never played out were frustrating. And more than once I felt like Stiefvater didn't have a good grip on Grace's character. Her behavior was often contradictory--romantic and dreamy one minute, stoic and withdrawn the next.

I pushed through it, and the story did pick up again. And I can say this: The book ends very well. 

So it's an artistic novel, but on the entertainment side, I was disappointed.

Now I'm going to contradict all of that and give a True Confession. I can see teenage Leigh LOVING this book.

Contradictory behavior? Inexplicable conflicts with parents? Isn't that what being a teenager is all about? And swooney love with a sexy sexy scene (heads up, Moms). Oh, yeah. All my little friends and I would've been passing this one around.

Teenage Leigh would've given this book an A+ with stars all around it. And I'm sure she would've already rushed out and bought the sequel, Linger.

So what's the message? I guess that it's all subjective.

Personally, I love romance, but I also like my romantic characters to do something. Of course I want to spend a little time on two characters making the astonished realization that they love someone and that the other someone feels the same way (!).

That's a big, life-changing discovery at any age.

Please give them their moment, but then get them off the couch and get them moving. Keep the conflict and problem solving going. Do continue throwing in some smooches and quiet moments, but don't stall out there.

I felt like Stiefvater became so enamored of her lovers being in love that she forgot what they were supposed to be doing. (Psst--It was figuring out how to stop Sam from changing back into a wolf forever!)

So for this reader, I say A for artistic writing, but B- on storytelling. And I'd love to hear your thoughts--both those who've read the book(s) and those who just have an opinion on the whole thing.

Until Thursday, have a great week~ <3

31 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

I haven't read these books, so can't reall contribute. But good morning, adult Leigh! :o)

Vicki Rocho said...

Solid review! There is a gap between what teenage Vicki would rave over and what Mama V adores. I suppose that's as it should be.

salarsenッ said...

I like the way you decided to get your point across-your review is well-balanced. I STILL have yet to read the book. I have Linger, though. Very interesting...

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I hadn't planned on reading the book, but I won a copy of it from a blog. I actually enjoyed it (must have been the 17yo me who reads most YA books), and couldn't wait to read Linger.

DEZMOND said...

I'm absolutely against werewolves and vampires in books, especially in YA books, but I must admit I love book covers for her novels. They are very artsy, lyrical and inviting.

Christine Danek said...

I like your review. Very honest. I would agree with some things. Especially, about Grace. The book is written beautifully and the love story is...*sigh*. My problem was all the food scenes. I don't know why. It bothered me.
I do plan on ready Linger. I have it and actually started it. My problem is I have so many stinkin' books on my shelf. Argh!
Have a great day!

Ellie said...

I've not read either of those books, but you've raised some interesting points for writers to take not of.

Katie Mills said...

Can I make a confession? I put the book down half way through and forgot to pick it up again. I hardly EVER do that. I even made it through Hush Hush. But the fire went out too abruptly for me and I was really bummed. Now that I read your review, I just might have to pick it back up again.

Old Kitty said...

I've not read this book so thanks for the info! I so agree that reading and writing and both are totally subjective. I recently read One Day by David Nicholls. It's a biggie - won awards, best seller - so many many people loved it etc. It just didn't do it for me. I tried to like it - I really tried but nope. It just didn't have heart. Does that make sense? Beautifully written but I just did not care. Or care enough. LOL!
Take care
x

Lydia K said...

That makes so much sense to grade a book on artistry and storytelling separately. I'd grade books quite differently with this method!

Colene Murphy said...

Oh. Yes. I agree with everything you said! I felt THE SAME WAY about it. (have you read Matched yet? Consistent lovey story.) Anyway, awesome review!

Dawn said...

Great review. I read Shiver last year and loved it - mostly. I thought the writing was beautiful and the chemistry was good...but then, yeah, the story kind of fizzles. And that may be why I haven't jumped to get the second one...Yet. My stepdaughter, who LOVED Twilight, won't read it because there was too much Grace and not enough Sam at the start...yep, she's in boy-crazy mode. Sigh.

Mason Canyon said...

Great review. I enjoyed how you gave your insight on the book from a young and an older outlook. That definitely puts a different outlook on it. I haven't read this book but I have read a couple of reviews on it. Your's is by far the best.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Matthew Rush said...

You already know what I think, but I will say that you broke this one down excellently, whether I agree with you or not.

Lisa said...

Great review! I liked your other post about being an entertainer and an artist, too. Sometimes I think they're seperate... but then sometimes I think you can mesh the two (it's a rare book that does both).

Hart Johnson said...

You do a great job with book reviews, Leigh--I love that you have what works and what doesn't, and can separate enough to say who might like it better.

As for me... I think the Facebook discssion was as much of this book as I need, but then I'm the crabby pants who will only tolerate romance as a SUBPLOT, not a plot.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Sigh. Have you read Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy? I read it when I was a teen and loved it. Then my book club of the "mommy and me" stage of my life went the "favorite books ever" route, so I re-read it. Not so good the second time around. Perspective is definitely a huge player in this game! Still loving Rebecca though. (My other fav!)

Talli Roland said...

Interesting review. I've heard so much about this book, but I didn't really know anything about it. I must admit it doesn't really sound like my kind of thing... but I can see the appeal for others.

Patti said...

I like the way you broke down your review. Although it's been a while since I read the book, I would agree. The next book Linger kind of does the same thing.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I haven't read the book, but I think it points to the elusiveness of stories that can cross over from YA to adult. Many are very teen-centric (which is great! No worries there), but some touch on some more universal themes and ... something else. I think the something else is exceptional storytelling. This is one reason why even MGlit can cross over to adults so easily - it is rife with amazing storytelling.

JB Lynn said...

I haven't read the book, but found this to be an interesting review! I know that as a writer I tend to focus on what I hope will entertain a reader.

erica and christy said...

I read both books this past summer. I agree that Shiver was beautifully written. I enjoyed both books, but there was something missing in them for me. I haven't figured out what it was yet. Your take on what was lacking for you is interesting. For me, though they were written in first person, there was a distance between me and the characters so I had a hard time getting into the books. I read through Linger much more quickly. I do still plan to read the third in the trilogy when it comes out this summer and am looking forward to it! Christy

Clarissa Draper said...

There are occasions when I love an artistic book but never hidden in a book designed to be entertaining. Or vice versa. I have to put my mind in a certain frame for each type. Great post.
CD

Jennie Bailey said...

I love poetic reads so this one is up my alley. I'll grab a copy next time I see one. I've found that my biggest problem with YA books right now is the contradictory or unexplained behavior. It also occurs in all of the NY Times best sellers. Which means the teens don't care. They're there for the story. I try to set that aside and push through to the end like you do. And I do so love pretty language.

Shannon said...

I think this review is spot on. I'm actually mid-way through Shiver. Put it down for the reasons mentioned above. Looks like I need to pick it back up again.

Love this post. =)

Lynda Young said...

I read Shiver a few months ago so it's not fresh in my mind, but I remember thinking it felt like a a copy of Twilight especially in the case of the parents. It was a light read. I can understand why teens would enjoy it.

Julie Musil said...

I haven't read this book, but I've heard a lot about it. I agree about movement, though. I have a short attention span, and I need my characters moving forward. A good thing to remember when I'm writing!

Ellen aka Ella said...

Haven't read it, but intrigued~
I appreciate your honest review, I do love descriptive, artsy style, but not if the story doesn't come through~ *555*

Jen Daiker said...

I own these books, I've met Maggie, but I've never read them. I really should read them. After Anna and the French Kiss, so that I'm ready for the next one :)

Yay! Do you see me?! I'm commenting and loving it!! It's been far too long!

Margo Berendsen said...

I found your blog when one my Goodreads friends marked Shiver to read and then linked to your blog. I've read it, and yeah it was one of those books that I loved on a lot of points and rolled my eyes on other points. But I do agree with you. My teenage self would have gone nuts over this book. I loved your analysis because i couldn't quite put my finger on where the story fell short, but I think you pinned it exactly. The characters are so in love they lose focus. Which is actually very realistic (I mean, who hasn't lost focus!!!) but you are right, it doesn't work so well in storytelling!

Tara said...

I haven't read it, but this is a terrific review! Very balanced.

I have an award for you at my blog.