Monday, December 2, 2013

Why One Should Not Judge a Book on Reviews Alone (Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater)

Title: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls 1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic (2009)

A BIG thank you to Estelle at Scholastic for providing me with a copy for review.
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back.
I have put off reading this book for years. And, quite frankly now that I have read it I feel positively guilty about it.

I based my initial impression of the writing and plot on snarky, harsh reviews and I allowed this to taint how I perceived the book. This really is not fair and from now on I will not read reviews of books I want to read until I have actually read them. This sounds weird coming from a reviewer, but I do make the effort these days to be as objective as possible in my reviews. Especially as we are all different and have our own tastes and opinions.

The reason behind this choice is simple. People can be unbelievably harsh on the internet and everyone wants to exert their opinion. I am just as guilty of this sometimes. I pulled down my initial nasty review of Shiver that I posted on Goodreads in 2010. At the time, I thought I was so clever. Posting a scathing review of a book I had barely read made me feel empowered. I had an opinion, dammit! And people will read it! HEAR ME ROAR!

Looking back, this wasn't clever. Shiver is actually a wonderful read that is written incredibly well. I found myself thnking about Grace and Sam when I wasn't able to read the book. I wanted to know how their story ended and I felt for them.

Sam is a tragic character. He has been through so much in his life and in many ways, Grace is his salvation. And you can feel this in the bond between them.

I can understand why Shiver is such a success because when you are reading the book, everything feel so real! The setting and the characters draw you in. Yes, the pace is slow, but the mystery and ambiance more than makes up for this.

I felt that Stiefvater really loves Mercy Falls and her ensemble of characters. Her thoughtful approach shows in her writing. She handles things delicately and with finesse.

If you enjoyed Twilight, you will love Shiver. Stephenie Meyer wishes she could write this well!

And please do not judge a book you really want to read on reviews alone. Yes, I do respect other people's opinions, but there is more to reading and reviewing books than picking out the flaws and using ridiculous .gifs. I think reviewers often lose the simple enjoyment a book can bring them.

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