Saturday, September 25, 2010

Horrible Dare Challenge: Shiver

Greetings and rise up my fellow workers! As you may recall, I am Karega and this is Joe and we have been unjustly conscripted by this privileged scion of First World capitalism to review Horrible Books. But do not underestimate the resistance of the people! We were supposed to have had this done by September 21.

Hooray! Victory to the little guys!

She was distracted by a move, a new job, and, most recently, dire illness! But, alas, the jaws of the leech remain locked on us and our triumph was merely transitory. It has been demanded that we discuss a Young Adult novel by one Maggie Stiefvater entitled Shiver. It is about a girl who falls in love with a werewolf. But rest assured, our commitment to the uplift of the masses burns as brightly as ever, and we endeavor to examine this so-called "paranormal romance" in light of the ongoing struggle of the people against the voracious cannibals who control the corporations who, I am told, have been churning out hundreds and hundreds of books of precisely this type, such as Hush, Hush, Evermore, and various titles of "urban fantasy." I sense a conspiracy at work here.

There aren't any vampires in this one. Anywhere. That was really weird.

Indeed you have to admire Stiefvater for her nonconformity in that regard.

But I missed the vampires.

We begin with the plot. Shiver opens up from the perspective of Grace several years before the primary action of the story begins. She has been knocked off her backyard tire and is surrounded by hungry wolves. She is rescued by another wolf who returns each winter to watch her. We learn that this wolf is Sam, and he and his pack are the victims of some sort of virus that causes them to shift when the weather turns cold. Each year, they turn earlier and earlier until they are finally and permanently –

Paranormal romance just isn't paranormal romance without vampires. It just isn't right at all.

Um, yes, anyway, as I was saying –

I mean where is the werewolf version of Anne Rice? I demand vampires!

For the love of God, what in the matter with you?

. . .

Oh. Oh. I'm sorry, Joe. I failed to recognize my able-bodied privilege and I truly apologize for my insensitivity to your . . . your . . . uh, situation.

They're normal guys like us with thoughts and feelings and everything but they're trapped in animal bodies! They can't talk to anybody and all the people from the town want to shoot them! Karega this is a terrible awful book and not for the reasons you think!

Not to negate your experiences in any way, Joe, but I believe they enjoyed being wolves and their human personalities were largely submerged. The real dilemma of the story is that Sam has fallen in love with Grace and discovered that there are treasures unique to humanity.

That was real hard for me. They knew they only had each other for a short time so they tried to make the best of it before he got taken away and had to spend the rest of his life yearning for her. He would be forever eighteen in her mind and not the sad wolf howling every night.

I'm really sorry, Joe. But equally distressing to me was the exploitative, callous, and brutal behavior demonstrated by the ruling human elite towards the wolves and other beasts of the forest. I do not know if Stiefvater intended this, but I truly feel that the wolves embodied the liberation of man in his primordial state of innocence, before the rise of the jiggers and bedbugs who prostituted the land and sold their souls for riches. Tom Culpeper, for instance, is a wealthy lawyer who unleashes his vengeance upon the wolves for the alleged death of his son Jack, who we learn had actually been tormenting the pack with a BB gun. I believe that Culpeper's animosity may also derive from his inability to enslave such free creatures and seize their lives and labor for his own selfish ends. He tries to compensate for this lack of control through the disgusting hobbies of hunting and taxidermy. Sam finds that his grotesquely oversized mansion is filled with the frozen carcasses of animals Culpeper had killed, now doomed to stare glassily upon their murderer's feasts and parties.

Isn't that the whole point of the animal rights movement? That we can't lord it over animals just because we or at least some of us are privileged to be human beings?

Exactly! Can you imagine what would happen if animals developed a class consciousness? The factory farms and slaughterhouses would run deep with the blood of the former oppressors! You know, Joe, I don't think this was a Horrible Book at all. It is true, the prose is rather purple at times –

"I was a leaking womb bulging with the promise of conscious thought. . ."

It should have been more minimalist, as that would have better complimented the stark winter ambiance. Blazing white snow and the lines of dead trees.

I don't think either of us does subtle or subdued very well.

That's because we have a message. But Shiver's purpose is, first and foremost, to provide the reader with escapism in the form of tragic yet magical romance. I must say that I am exceedingly disappointed with this book's inclusion in the Horrible Dare Challenge. It was by no means great literature, granted, but nor did it provide me with the lulz this particular challenge was supposed to inspire.

Is she still making us read Hush, Hush? Because that book really does sound Horrible. I even heard it's worse than Twilight.

What! No!

She can't do that to us! I suffer enough as it is!

Never underestimate them, Joe. I think we've both learned that the hard way.

The Horrible Dare Challenge is hosted by Rayche and TY. The three following Horrible Books were to have been read and reviewed (snarkily) by September 21, 2010:

L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad
Hush, Hush by Rebecca Fitzpatrick
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Extra credit: One Danielle Steele novel Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater

Coming Up: I will still be reading Hush, Hush because I do have an idea as to what to do with it. It's been stewing in my mind for awhile. Hopefully I will be able to pull it off.


Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I couldn't read a Danielle Steel book if you paid me...LOL

I have read several good reviews in Shiver -- I may have to read that one.

Emily said...

This may be a little beside the point, but I feel like your Karega & Joe reviewers are really starting to coalesce and build up a rapport between them! This was my fave K/J review yet. :-)

E. L. Fay said...

Bibliophile: Oh, I couldn't read a Danielle Steele either. I have to admit I was morbidly intrigued but couldn't stomach being seen checking one out of the library. My mother already owned the Glenn Beck book I substituted it with. I don't think Danielle Steele could be much worse than that one.

Emily: Thanks! I wasn't sure how to go about doing it, which is another reason this post was overdue. I plan to include them in my Hush, Hush special, although not as reviewers. Over-the-top Marxist screeds just go great together.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, I agree with Emily - this is great work from the Joe and Karega. I very much enjoyed this review. I read Shiver at the end of last year and liked it fairly well. (Was shocked by the lack of vampires too!) I've been eagerly waiting for your review of it, since I had a sneaking suspicion that it you might like it at least a little. :)

E. L. Fay said...

Sarah: Indeed, I did like it a little. The premise itself wasn't that original, but Stiefvater did a decent job putting her own spin on it. But I wonder if vampires will be in any of the sequels? I hope not but it wouldn't surprise me.

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