Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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...

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

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? 


  1. Wow, that's a lot of pluses. :) I tried to read The Raven Boys, but I just couldn't get into it. I'm bummed because everyone seems to really enjoy these books.

  2. I have the audiobook for The Raven Boys, and yes, did I love all the nuances in the voices of each character.

    But the book didn't really rank high for me. Mostly because I think I set my expectations too high.

  3. Oh! I'm writing up my review of this one as we speak (trying to get it ready by Thurs.) so I WILL be back to read and comment, Christina! I can't wait to read what you have to say about this!

  4. Truth be told, I can't remember much about The Raven Boys other than really liking it, but it's skill when an author is able to make us readers understand difficult people - such as Ronan. If I'm not mistaken, he didn't play a very big part in TRB, right? (Curse you, book amnesia!) So I'm definitely looking forward to reading and seeing more character development in this sequel.

    World building: Any thoughts about the world building being done brilliantly in TRB has now been replaced by more awe. This actually reminds me of Shadow & Bone and Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo - the first book had incredible world building, but the sequel shocked me by going more into depth! A huge plus, this is.

    Romance: A plus? *does happy jig* 'Nuff said. ;)

    Villains: So apart for some lame-sounding villains, but I like the sound of this "other" villain, who seems so evil. Which makes it good for the book.

    I'm so, so glad that you liked this, Christina. I just saw a five-star review from a very trusted reviewer of mine, and I just can't wait to get started with this book! I only hope it recaps nicely, because I really can't remember anything at all from the first book, apart from ley lines and the character's names.

  5. You probably guessed it: NOPE, I won't read your review, hon! :D LOL. I'm glad to see most of them marked as + though. Oh, and guess what?! I got an e-mail from TBD that Scholastic marked TDT as available so I hope it's shipped sometime this week:) Hurrayyy!!

  6. I have to agree with you on a lot of things. In book one, I was just curious about Ronan, but in this book I really came to like him :) The only character I would say I don't like has to Adam. For some reason, I just can't connect with him. I Great review :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading


    Whew. Got that out of my system. Lucky that this comes out soonish and I won't have long to wait for it. I haven't read it (obviously) so I can't discuss with you the apparent many pluses to this book, but I did appreciate your always thorough approach to analyzing books.

    Also, I had no idea the focus in this was on Ronan. That makes me even more eager. I wanted more from him in the first book and it sounds like I am going to get exactly what I had asked for.

    I prefer The Raven Boys cover, too, but I do like this one. And I can't wait to see how it ties into the book!

    It is taking all my willpower to not highlight those spoilers so I am going to run away before I do something like spoil myself.

  8. I got this today, but I can't start it yet because I need to go to bed at a decent hour tonight. I'm making a note to pop back over here after I do read it, because I'm avoiding reviews for now, but yours are always so thoughtful.

  9. That is a bummer! I love TRB and would have loved to discuss with you. But alas, we'll have to settle for another book :).

  10. :O does didn't rank high for you mean you didn't like it much? Just the character nuances? Aw. Disappointed expectations are the worst. Does that mean you're not going to read Dream Thieves or you'll go into it with very, very little expectations?

  11. Woot!! I can't wait to see what you wrote too :).

  12. He didn't play a huge role! He was there during the various encounters & expeditions and revealed something major at the end, but his role in that book is nothing like it in this one. As for a recap: yeah! Somewhat. It's not very detailed. It'll tell you something like "ever since Adam did X and X, Gansey felt ---". The main plot points are covered without the depth of their context, if that makes sense.

    Yes! A lot more depth. The first book was definitely an intro to everything. This one makes me think of how much she must have planned in advance before writing...

    Yes. Seriously. She did writing PNR before this series, though, so her capability at portraying romantic relationships is definitely believable. And very happy jig (and heart-wrenching jig) appropriate.

    Haha, the lame-sounding one was from the first book! I loved the villains in this one. One is rather evil :).

    Yeah, Meg!! When you read the book, I'd love to discuss it with you :).

  13. LOL. All right, SIiri, I'll forgive you so long as you discuss it with me when you do get the chance to read TDT :).

  14. I've seen a bunch of mixed feelings on Adam. I wonder how that'll play out in the end and whether his book comes next... if that happens, maybe you'll be able to connect with him then? :)

  15. Kate. Thank you. :) I'd love to discuss with you! And I hope you enjoy TDT tomorrow or whenever you get the chance to read it.

    Oh, and did I tell you that I've been meaning to catch up with your blog but have basically failed over the past week o.O? It was meant to be a massive-comment-blogger-appreciation thing but... *sigh* I'm telling you now in case I don't end up getting around to it. Maybe the thought counts?

  16. Eeeee!! Jessie, I was so surprised. Scholastic doesn't generally like me much on NG - they ignored me for the Raven Boys last year, so I was super surprised when I got approved this year o.O.

    I'd love to discuss it with you in.... six days :). If you read it right off the bat. WHICH JESSIE YOU MUST DO. DO NOT LET THIS BECOME ONE OF YOUR SERIES ON THE SHELVES. y'know. Just saying.

    Yay!! I hope you like how she explores Ronan's character :). I'm glad you didn't highlight the spoilers. If you did... no soup for you!

  17. Dude, the thought TOTALLY counts. And we're kind of having a weird week over there, anyway, what with Blythe's still being MIA and all. It's probably a good time for you not to be able to stop by.

  18. I haven't read The Raven Boys yet, I know it's an utter fail on my part, but I'm definitely planning on reading it in the next few days. I will definitely come and check out your review once I've devoured the first book!

  19. I agree, the villains in this sequel were so much better and believable. Even so, I liked that I was left wondering if they were even true villains. Sure, they did some terrible things, but does that make them true villains? I loved to hate one and hated to love the other.

    I prefer this sequel to The Raven Boys, but that might have something to do with how Ronan-centric it was. I hadn't really thought about it, but each is kind of getting their own book, huh? I love Gansey, he's now officially my favorite, but I kind of hope his book is last. I totally think Adam has it in him to be villainous, but I don't know if he'll be the ultimate villain. I also don't think Gansey is Glendower, though I had considered the possibility that Blue's father IS. That's one of the things I love about this series...you get one question answered only to come up with ten more in the process.

  20. Great review, I'm even more excited about reading this book! And I just found out about a website, Recaptains, that gets you up to speed on books that are part of a series and The Raven Boys is one that they have done. So for people like me who can barely remember the book and who don't have time to re-read it, yay! ~Pam

  21. I've been itching to read this post all week! I finally have some time.

    I agree with you about most things, which is nothing new! The romance, especially. The slow-build is exactly what I love about it, but I do also think that it's incredibly frustrating too. The torture! And almost-kisses! It's enough to drive anyone insane - and I'm pretty sure that a less capable author could alienate the reader very easily with that approach. Thankfully Maggie Stiefvater has (so far) made it work.

    And yes, the characters are what make this series. It's definitely all the little things that lead to the most important contributions. Now that you mention the audiobook, I think I'll have to go ahead and buy it once it's released. I loved the attention to detail in the Raven Boys audio and hope we'll find the same thing in this one. The J.K. Rowling comparison is one that I find myself making more and more as I think about the characterisation in this series.

  22. That'd be wonderful, Jasprit! I hope you enjoy TRB :). TDT is soon out too, so you won't even have to wait before delving into the sequel if you wanted.

  23. Thought will become reality!!! This is a prediction. THIS WEEKEND. I have your blog opened for later! And Blythe is back-ish, yeah? :)

  24. Yes -- I saw someone tweet about that, and I love that they'd do that. That's great :) although I do think that there's a decent enough hint in this one of what happened in TRB. I hope you enjoy TDT - not long now!!

  25. Yes. So yes. They were both screwed up in their own right. I don't generally root for villains, but this book actually tempted me to for exactly the reasons you said - I loved to hate one and hated to love the other.


    I think so! I think the last book was Noah/Blue. This Ronan. Next probably Adam, and last one saved for Gansey - I think you're right. Gansey is my favorite too :D. Adam... I don't know. I don't think he'll become the ultimate villain, but he may end up dying by the end of the series with the way he's going... Gansey can't be Glendower since Maura said G was underground and Gansey wasn't then :D. BUT YES. So many questions! I want to see the outlines and charts that Maggie must have had when first planning this series!

  26. Hahah, Sam. It makes me happy that we have such similar tastes in books - I always know where to find a good rec ;). Yes. There are a lot of books with slow builds and almost-kisses that do frustrate, but I think it's MS's skill + the fact that there's ACTUALLY a good reason for this to happen that makes it work well. SAMSAMSAM. Do you think the next book will have the actual kiss? G. dies before his (and the last) book?

    Yes! I already bought book, but I am thinking that it's time to buy the TDT audio too. Makes doing repetitive work just a bit easier to bear :). Since Patton is doing the narration again, I think there should be the same attention to detail... Once Maggie had discussed in a blog post - I think - how she made her characterization work - by thinking of three scenes that defined her characters. And my children's lit prof once said that Rowling got to the heart of a character b/c if you thought of any one of them, you could think of a few scenes that defined them. I thought that was pretty remarkable, but if they take similar approaches, it's no wonder their characterization skills are so prescient.

  27. i haven't read The Raven Boys yet either, but I love your review format, the +/- thing:)

  28. I think it might. She wouldn't make us wait all the way until the final book, right? (Right?!!) I really hope it is the next book. And I don't really want to think about what might (will?) happen to Gansey. I will be beyond heartbroken if there isn't some sort of happy/satisfying ending for most of the characters here. I love them too much to accept anything else!

  29. Lis @ The reader linesSeptember 24, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    I am dying to read this book!
    I loved The raven boys and I was wondering if I'll get more romance in this one, but it seems not. Anyway, I can't wait to read it! Loved your review!

  30. Some, but not a lot of romance. Series seems to be more focused on the Glendower quest and the ley lines etc. etc. more anyway. Hope you enjoy the book!

  31. I absolutely loved this installment! Even better than the first one. Maggie is just fabulous. I cannot wait to see where she goes from here!!


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