by Maggie Stiefvater
For years, Grace watches the wolves in the woods behind her house. One wolf in particular, a yellow eyed one, is a presence she feels drawn to. This teenage girl falls in love with the supernatural creature, and risks life and limb to be with him.
Not for me, I’ve decided. Enjoyable for some, yes, but there’s something about the story. It screams Twilight. Actually, it takes me back to a book called Fallen – something I’ll never read again and with good reason. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good werewolf story, and love reading an ol’ supernatural tale especially, but no, not with this book. I feel like Maggie tried to be a Stephenie Meyer. On Goodreads you’ll notice I gave it a two star. This is for several reasons.
Characters are paramount in any book. I don’t care what else you throw in there, it’s the characters that hook me first. It’s the protagonist and antagonist that first reels me in. But these characters… I feel like I’ve read them all before.
Let’s take a look at our broody protagonist, Sam. Werewolf Sam. Sam, who wants to eat his true love at first sight, and Sam who is rude and impolite to everyone despite being apparently a cashier (how he has that job is beyond me), ignoring everyone, including Grace may I add, and who I can only compare to an ’emo’ through and through (forgive my stereotypical branding of the character, but it really is what comes into my head). He writes bad songs and broods so constantly its like he invented the term. Okay, so maybe he improves a little, but it’s like someone took Edward Cullen and recreated him as a werewolf. Perhaps Maggie was a ‘Team Jacob’ supporter, who decided to write out a Bella and Jacob version in the form of Sam and Grace.
She draws patterns on my face / These lines make shapes that can’t replace / the version of me that I hold inside/ when lying with you, lying with you, lying with you.
Just look at that masterpiece of a lyrical work. Good job, Sam. Really. Totally feeling it.
Parts of Sam also remain unexplained to me, such as how he remembers Grace although werewolves do not remember being the wolf, though in the book’s defense I suppose this is all because of ‘true love’ and the romantic impact Grace apparently has on him.
This is something I also find hard to digest – the romance. What is the romance? I feel like there is little chemistry bubbling there for Sam and Grace. I realise they share no hobbies, no common interest, no twin desires to search for something or protect something.
If Sam had saved Grace from being eaten by the wolves, maybe then I would understand. Maybe then I could see the beginnings of why this romance takes place. But he doesn’t. He wants to eat her. (Remind you of anything? Twilight maybe? Ed lusting for Bell’s blood? No? Alrighty.)
Contrariwise, you could argue Grace’s adoration of her wolf is what links them together. But why? And what exactly does Sam see in Grace? This never becomes completely apparent for me. I struggled with shipping this ship. I think the relationship certainly has its good points – Grace accepts Sam for who he is right at the beginning, and they do show care for each other the further you read into the book, but it’s like something is missing. There is no solid connection. Just Grace’s attraction to ‘her wolf’. Doesn’t quite cut it for me. I’m sorry. I tried to like this ship.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some hater. I try to justify my disliking of a book with reasons. As I said, characters are everything in a book and they are what draws me in primarily.
But there’s a far bigger problem. Characterization. I don’t really think there is much, if any, in this book. Sam is fleshed out a tad – he lost his father figure in the pack, he has the inner holding-on-to-humanity battle inside, he has the double lives, so on – but still I feel it is not enough. There could be so much more depth. There was potential for Sam.
Isabelle, I didn’t mind. I liked Isabelle. She was a decent side character, had good dialogue, she loved her brother, she refuses to believe he is dead and so has a right to embark on the whole ‘Grace knows something’ train. Naturally. After all, Grace has a special connection with the wolves. But doesn’t this say something, actually finding a minor character more interesting than our main characters?
Additionally, I cannot find any quotes to support the idea of character development. I see none. In fact, I’m not even quite sure what the plot of this book was. There was no conflict, no sort of quest, no real sense of story here. Not for me, anyway. It is entirely character-driven and no solid plot exists for it to be plot-driven in any way. The good outweighs the bad, and while this isn’t for me, it might be for some readers out there. Who knows.