Release Date: 09/17/13
Source: Netgalley via publisher
Published by: Scholastic
Spoilers if you haven't read The Raven Boys yet!
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...
1. (+) Ronan, the protagonist - I always thought Ronan was a really well done "bad" boy so to speak. His tortured past, his anger, his violence, his tough attitude, and his tenderness - all of this felt so very palpable, so very real to me in ways that other stereotypical presentations did not. As with Gansey, Ronan presents a facade to everyone else - that he doesn't care, that he doesn't need anyone. But he does. His pain and past are as skillfully explored and textured as the unveiling of his sexuality and the small acts of kindness that he'll perform. His emotional growth is sure-footed and astounding - from near-the-edge to fully fledged hero. If you were not a fan of Ronan in the first novel, you'll be sure to understand and empathize with him in this one.
2. (+) World-building - Have you ever been curious about street racing? I have. On occasion, I hear drivers zooming on the street below, and I'll find drag marks the next day. What happens during those races? Well, Maggie Stiefvater not only makes that environment come alive but also the nightmarish dream environment that Ronan explores and the dreamy magic behind the powers of ley line and Cabeswater. I don't read a lot of magical realism, but Maggie Stiefvater makes me want to believe in magic, believe that magic is real with the world she's slowly building. Plus Stiefvater has introduced even more subtle details to highlight the opportunities that privilege offers - truly yet another wonderful exploration of class.
3. (+) Romance - I don't think there's anyone else who can make me root for a romance that I know is doomed yet can't help but love. Ugh, I know that somewhere along the line, my heart is going to get broken. So there wasn't much romantic action in The Raven Boys. Does that change in The Dream Thieves? A little. And the slow-build? (!!!) I'm frustrated and in love with this portrayal all at once.
4. (+) Character Cast - If I've read your review, you've undoubtedly gotten a comment from me on how the CHARACTERS make this series. How Maggie's made all of them so real by enhancing their character quirks - how Gansey rubs his thumb along his lips, how Adam stays quiet, how Blue scowls, how Ronan curses over and over, how Noah's got that smudge on his face, how Persephone speaks in that quiet little tone, how Calla practices air yoga while mocking the boys, etc. All of these quirks especially show in Will Patton's reading (of The Raven Boys), and I'm sure they'll show again in this audiobook - and that's what also makes the series unique: that it provides enough information for Patton to give accurate and wonderfully realistic depictions of the characters. The only other writer who made characters feel this real (for me) is J.K. Rowling. Even better, this book not only expands on old characters like those in Blue's and Gansey's families (Gansey's primarily to continue the class tension in the first novel.) but also introduces us to some more like those in Ronan's family.
5. (+) Plot - This is Ronan's coming-of-age tale mixed with some of the series plots introduced in The Raven Boys. The main plot is his learning how to control his powers before X and X happens, and in order for that to happen, he's got to learn about himself and his family. The quest for Glendower, the problem of the ley line, and the ominous kiss prophecy for Blue are still there, but they get a lot less focus in this one.... yet in the end, Ronan's plot converges with the series plots in wonderfully unpredictable but beautiful ways. Again there's another open ending that'll leave you puzzled and frustrated but still eager for the next title, still eager to see how Maggie will complicate these plot threads even further.
6. (+) Villains - I was slightly disappointed in the villains of The Raven Boys. They were very real people, but Barrington Whelk was so pathetic, I had a hard time taking him seriously and Neeve was too mysterious for me to understand (her danger). The villains in this book? One of them is so ridiculously charming that I honestly can't compute the violence that he/she commits with his/her personality. Psychopath? Potentially. And yet somehow I'm still rooting for him/her? The other was damaged and used to great effect to highlight Ronan's own character growth. A foil but a dangerous foil. A wacky foil who you'll never be able to predict.
7. (+) Character Growth - The best part about this is that MOST of the characters grow in this novel even though it's primarily centered on Ronan. Adam, you remember what happened to him in the previous book? Well, he'll have to deal with the consequences. Gansey, you remember how Blue compares the vision of him at the beginning to how he seems at the end? Well, his facade is starting to crack. Blue, you remember how she wasn't quite sure of her place until she joined the boys? Well, that's even more evident now. Ronan will obviously have to deal with the problems his power presents... and the other characters? Maybe they don't grow so much as you learn more of their secrets. And my, what complex people they all are.
8. (+) Writing - Oh, how I love Maggie Stiefvater's writing. This woman is so talented. She can go from humorous to sweet to tragic in one scene. And always I shall repeat: no one can create as atmospheric of a mood as she can. Here's an example of the kind of scene she can set: "At that particular moment in time, Richard Campbell Gansey III was ninety-two miles away from his beloved car. He stood in the sun-soaked driveway of the Ganseys' Washington D.C. mansion, wearing a furiously red tie and a suit made of tasteful pinstripe and regal swagger. Beside him stood Adam, his strange and beautiful face pale above the slender dark of his own suit. Tailored by the same clever Italian man who did Gansey's shirts, the suit was Adam's silken armor for the night ahead. It was the most expensive thing he had ever owned, a month's wages translated into worsted wool. The air was humid with teriyaki and Carbernet Sauvignon and premium-grade fuel. Somewhere, a violin sang with vicious victory. It was impossibly hot" (255).
9. (+/-) Pacing - As I've said before, I do find character-driven stories to be paced slightly slower than others, and I think my perception of The Dream Thieves and its pacing was also affected by my preference for the plot in the first book. I just wasn't as captivated and it seemed the pacing was slow in the beginning -- probably for that reason, for that personal preference.
10. (+) The Cover - I still prefer the one for The Raven Boys, but having read The Dream Thieves, this one is so utterly appropriate that I cannot complain.
(For those curious -- why I didn't like this one as much as The Raven Boys. This, I believe, is all personal preference. This book is executed wonderfully, but I'm more of a sucker for the tension that drove the beginning of The Raven Boys. And also a sucker for the quest plot vs. the harness-your-power plot.)
Maggie Stiefvater has produced a sequel full of her usual charm and wit, beautiful writing and realistic characters--a sequel full of magic that's sure to enchant readers of all ages. Highly recommended. I can't wait to read the next book!
PS - For those of you who have read The Dream Thieves, there's a wonderful discussion thread on Wendy Darling's review. It made me realize that I'd missed some of the nuances in this story. So much fun to guess what'll happen in the future books such as: whose book do you think will come next? Adam's? Is Gansey's last? Is Gansey Glendower? Or is Glendower Blue's father? What of the Arthurian images? Will Adam become the ultimate villain in this series? When will Neeve reappear?