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I'm reviewing this as a trilogy, because I don't think that anyone should have to read it as just one or two books - it's too sad. The first time I read these books I only had the first two, and had to wait to get the third one. What a wait that was! I was climbing the walls! So starting with the whole box-set in your hands is perfect.
Stiefvater is an incredibly talented author, whose books are a delight to read. They're just so real - which is saying a lot when you're reading about werewolves! That's the thing though - although there are people who turn into wolves in the books, it's really far more about the people and their relationships with one another. The Shiver trilogy is a wonderful love story - it's not all plain sailing, but then what relationship is? This is part of what makes it so real. There is pain and suffering, but there are countless sweet moments that make it all worth it.
One of the things I like most about Stiefvater's writing is the way she includes little details that very few writers would think to include. A touch, a thought, a look - these tiny, inconsequential things are what makes up a real relationship, and the fact that Stiefvater writes them into her story makes it all the more believable. Grace and Sam's connection is incredibly strong, despite all everything that goes against them, and Stiefvater manages to write in such a way that you feel their relationship progressing. It's like real life on paper; love in words.
By telling the tale from both Grace and Sam's perspectives, plus other characters as the story progresses, Stiefvater manages to create a wonderful all-round understanding of what is happening. When a book is narrated by just one character, we get a very personal, somewhat stilted account, but by allowing each character to have their own time, by letting us see what is inside their heads, we are treated to something that feels much more complete. It's like watching a film, but better! I usually want books I really like to be made into films, but not Shiver - I just don't think any filmmaker could do it justice. It's the kind of book that needs to use your imagination, because what you can imagine is so much better than what any special effects and actors can create.
Shiver is a completely new twist on the werewolf legend - I'm not going to give anything away here, but I really liked the fact that it completely ignores the whole full moon/silver bullets shebang, and creates a whole new legend of its own.