Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

A reviewer on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest compared aspects of my submission to Shiver, which is unfair because I didn’t read the book until last weekend, and my manuscript was submitted two months ago. This is just one of the many gross injustices in the writing world. You have an idea, and, hey, so did someone else…and most likely she wrote it better than you did.

Stiefvater’s story, however, is quite different from my own. The similarities are generally found in the heroine’s parents and in the existence of werewolves. Thankfully the similarities stop there, although Grace’s parents (and my main character’s, I guess) are unique enough to make me cringe: both sets are flighty, artist types. Grace’s mom is a painter; Phoebe’s dad is a sculptor. Grace’s dad and Phoebe’s mom are emotionally unavailable, although he is a never-at-home businessman and she is a never-outside-of-her-head stay-at-home mom. (Speaking of bad parenting, here’s an interesting essay from The New York Times discussing the trend of bad parents in YA lit.)

Other than these elements, I would be flattered to have my book compared to Stiefvater’s. Her writing is smooth and poetic without sounding so literary that you lose the story. Beautiful lines everywhere. Example: “‘I know,’ I replied, frowning at the multicolored sweaters and scarves trailing into the school, evidence of winter’s approach” (161). It’s such a beautiful image!And there are so many more. I think a werewolf novel has to be laden with more sensory details than a regular novel. It’s a rule.

The romance is another one of those too-good-to-be-true Twilight love-at-first-sight deals, but very few popular romances aren’t, these days. Grace and Sam have been in love for six years and have never spoken to one another because most of their googly-eyes are made while Sam is in wolf form. Which is sort of sick if you think about it outside the scope of the book, but doesn’t bother me in the actual story. (That’s how good the writing is! Googly-eyes at a four-legged mammal isn’t gross!)

The story isn’t fast-paced, but leisurely for the most part, giving the characters and their new (finally) human romance time to develop before plunging us into the crisis. The beauty of the ending was that I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know whether or not it would happen. I won’t say anymore and spoil it, though.

For more information of Maggie Stiefvater and her writing, you can visit her very entertaining blog.

My manuscript is out of the running for the ABNA contest, sadly, and I felt sorry for myself for about a week until I, well, got over it and figured out my revision plans. Happily, my friend Seven N. Blue’s entry made the cut. Click here for the excerpt–this is exciting stuff!

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