A friend of mine recommended this book to me and although at first I was skeptical within only a couple of chapters the pages started to almost turn themselves and I just had to keep up.
Here's how it all begins: bookish teenager Grace is fascinated with wolves who live in the woods on the edge of her back yard, especially with one of them who keeps coming back and with whom she has an inexplicable bond. When her classmate is mauled by wolves and the townsfolk decide to hunt them down Grace feels she must save them all and 'her' wolf in particular. Soon after she hears the hunters' shots in the woods she finds a naked boy, bleeding and almost unconscious. When she looks in his eyes she realizes immediately that he is her wolf, who is in fact a werewolf.
While this story of fantastical romance is common nowadays Maggie Stiefvater's treatment of the fantasy element is very different from everything else I've read so far. Her wolves aren't affected by the moon but turn when the weather gets cold. They can be killed with regular weapons. They hunt just like any other carnivore in the wild. Sooner or later they stop turning and live out their days as wolves with no conscious memory of their human life. Perhaps the most unconventional though is that there is a cure and Grace is living proof of it, fighting to keep Sam human as long as she can and hopefully forever.
This story isn't action-packed until the last several chapters but this only adds to it's charm. The unhurried narrative gives us glimpses of Grace and Sam alone with their hopes, dreams, fears and reservations. We see them develop and open up to each other and as they do we begin to care more about them and hope for their triumph even as they seem to fail without any hope of putting the pieces back together. The secondary characters are also well developed and interesting in their own ways, with their own plot lines. I really can't wait to see where the next book in the series takes them.
The only thing about this book that I didn't like is that the adults are clueless, again. Sam spends almost all of his time in Grace's room, drives her to and from school and her parents notice nothing. How is that possible? If my parents even suspected whispering in my room in the middle of the night they'd come to investigate but here, just like in many other YA books, they are perfectly oblivious.
I'll let you in on something that I didn't figure out until the last chapter of the book. Under every chapter title there is a temperature indication, it's either for Grace or Sam, depending on who is the protagonist in the chapter. The temperatures are always different, even if the two teens are side by side, and only in the last chapter are they the same because only in the last chapter are they truly together. When this dawned on me I literally got chills.
All in all it's a very satisfying read with a fresh take on a familiar story and I've been recommending to my fantasy romance-loving friends ever since I turned the last page, just as I recommend it to you.