Scholastic Paperbacks, June 1, 2010
1 edition, July 13, 2010
368 Pages (I read the Kindle edition)
Both books were purchased by me and read September 15 through 18, with a few false starts on Shiver.
When I was seventeen I was in the throes of losing my first love. Of course, we always wonder about that first but thank goodness we parted ways and I met my very wonderful husband who is my last love and the love of my life.
But, I can sympathize with Grace and Sam. And, in one way the manner in which Grace conducts her relationship with Sam is a slap in the face to her folks whose laissez faire child raising was just irresponsible. And, when we see Grace we look into the mind of a quiet and angry young adult whose level of responsibility gives the illusion that she is emancipated from parental control. Of course, when push comes to shove (what the heck does that really mean?) her parents can exact a measure of control. I really feel for her; and think she should have a level of decision making above that usually associated with 17 year-olds and parents. I think they left her a long time ago, and I have no sympathy for them at all. Never mind that their daughter has a boy in her room, what matters is that that their behavior has allowed them to miss here is a boy sleeping in her room for months.
Sam has some emotions stuck at seven, when he was bitten, but in other ways he is very mature. He knows he has a responsibility to new wolves and even when unpleasant because of personality clashes he does what is needed. He is a bit too sensitive for my taste with all his poetry and earnestness. He is particularly devoted to Rilke, and I think Stiefvater presents that poetry in a way that made it more accessible for me. I like poetry in theory but in reality it doesn't captivate me.
I have a hard time imagining what either Grace or Sam look like other than her brown eyes and his yellow eyes and his floppy shock of black hair Grace finds so attractive. As we have seen in other novels of a similar type the girl is described as attractive but more or less average. When I try to imagine who would play her in a movie, it is hard to come up with someone, because most young female actors are prettier than she is described. The only person I can come up with is Kristen Stewart aka Bella Swan!
Some of Grace's friends are described enough and their characters shown substantially. Rachel is loud, effusive, maybe a bit self absorbed, quirky. Olivia is artistic, short-tempered, scared, just becoming interested in boys. Isabel, arguably, Sam and Grace's most important friend is somewhat emotionally precarious, no nonsense, smart, more sophisticated than the rest of the kids in Mercy Falls. She is also the product of parents who adored their golden boy, Jack but whose careers and social status made them a bit more interested in themselves and the bottle than in their children. When Jack passes away at the start of Shiver, she is the one who strives to comprehend the circumstances. Her character is ascerbic, and fierce, even bitchy. She would be voted least likely to become hysterical in a crisis. She starts off bitchy and hostile towards Sam and Grace and ends up using her bitchiness to help them. She is the girl who would bring you around by slapping you into action.
Cole is a character who begins as a jerk and is determined to screw-up, determined to self-destruct. How he ends up remains to be seen, but he is forced to to use his intelligence to help and is perhaps growing out of being a jerk. I can see a relationship between Cole and Isabel developing in a third book.
Stiefvater has a tendency to force her characters to dance around, and avoid important truths. Action is only taken at the last minute. There are some communication issues between Sam and Grace. In many ways their strange history and life experiences have made this relationship more serious than a typical teen-aged affair; like Edward and Bella they know this is it for them. But, I imagine many teens feel this way. This is the intersection where Grace and Sam, and Grace's parents finally collide and where her parents'
lack of parenting is thrown into relief.
After a while I stopped enjoying Sam's extemporaneous lyricizing, and found it a bit of an affectation. But, I found the story, particularly in Shiver, very moving and shed a few tears reading it. I immediately downloaded Linger and began to read. There are allusions of sexuality in the book and Sam and Grace sleeping together is presented in such a way that even I sympathized with them and against the parent. Therefore, I don't think a teen should read this unless a parent or other responsible person is going to discuss it with them. It is not that it is risque, or that teens are not sophisticated enough to know exactly what happens in the bedroom, or that they are too innocent to be thus exposed; I think we all know that today's have seen and heard about more sex than they will read in these books. Rather, I think it is that the consequences are not those we would normally suspect they would be; the consequences are parental-filial estrangement. That is a rich topic, and this story is wealthy enough in romance, character and plot for me to recommend it. And, as I discussed yesterday its wolves are really interesting too.
By the way, the books are both beautifully designed , and the type is color coordinated to the cover art. In today's e-pub world, that is a truly unique feature.