Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Review: Shiver by Allie Reynolds

by Allie Reynolds
Release Date: January 19th 2021
2021 G.P. Putnam's Sons
Kindle Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593187838
ASIN: B087PK69G5
Genre: Fiction / Psychological
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5 Stars
When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, she's expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. It might have been a decade since she saw them last, but she's never forgotten the bond they forged on this very mountain during a winter spent fiercely training for an elite snowboarding competition.

Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. The resort is deserted. The cable cars that delivered them to the mountaintop have stopped working. Their cell phones--missing. And inside the hotel, detailed instructions await them: an icebreaker game, designed to draw out their secrets. A game meant to remind them of Saskia, the enigmatic sixth member of their group, who vanished the morning of the competition years before and has long been presumed dead.
My Thoughts
Shiver is the second book I've read these past few months that deals with a closed room type mystery taking place in the French Alps.  I have to say I enjoyed this a lot more than One by One by Ruth Ware (see review here), as I thought the character development was far superior and this author, through her experience, definitely knew her stuff when it came to skiing and snowboarding, something I appreciated far more than the other book.  
I really enjoyed the dual timeline in this book as it gave me a chance to compare the characters at two different periods of their lives.  First of all, you have the characters at the peak of their careers, enjoying elite competition and training at Le Rocher, and you get a glimpse of what it was like for them when they have sponsors and sponsorship deals, fans, and other projects on the go.  Then you see them ten years later, most no longer snowboarding, having given it up due to something that happened all those years ago while they were training.  I really enjoyed comparing the then and now personalities, and figuring out the how and why they all gave up their hopes and dreams.  I thought the dual timeline really effective in developing characters as well as being to contrast their personalities to the current ones we see later on.  
That doesn't necessarily mean I liked the characters though, but that doesn't bother me when I'm reading a book as long as I can empathize with them and I certainly can empathize with that 'win at all cost' attitude.  However, it does have its limits and when that means hurting people, absolutely not, so I really liked how the author wrote about that in this book.  When does an athlete cross the line? How do you perceive something to be deliberate or an accident? Interesting questions.  And how far can someone go before it is too far? By the end, I didn't really like any of them, but I didn't care as I was more interested in their motives.
I like these closed room mysteries when they are done well, and I enjoyed the plot in this book.  That's not to say it wasn't hard to figure out who it was as I did about halfway through the book.  However, I was curious as to the why as that I couldn't figure out and when it was revealed, it was probably the weakest part of this book.  I really feel like the author didn't build up enough character development for why this person would do something like this and the reasoning was kind of flimsy at best.   

I also really liked the setting.  As an avid skier, I wanted to be there (but in much nicer conditions, of course).  I love the fact the author was a former freestyle snowboarder so at least she understood how snowboarding worked and the conditions of the hill. I enjoyed all the little side notes of training and competition, but I really like the eerie atmosphere of a snow lodge being empty and creepy as the main characters had to navigate a dangerous situation using their wits.  
Shiver was so much more intriguing than I thought it would be, and the tension filled slowly throughout the book.  The dual timelines really helped give the reader information about the relationships between the characters as well as about the individual characters, plus you could compare them to how they were ten years later and see how they changed, for the better or worse.  I did think the weakest part of this book was the actual murderer as I didn't buy it, but the lead-up was certainly interesting.  There is enough suspense to keep you turning the pages.