Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater doesn't play fair. You’re reading along, composed as can be, when she throws out a small detail--one line, perfectly phrased--and all of a sudden you’re on your metaphorical back, staring at the sky and blinking away tears as you try to recover from the punch she just landed on your jaw.

You know?

I’m tempted to leave it right there, because that’s basically what you need to know about THE DREAM THIEVES. It’s a rich, powerful story that occasionally knocks you to the floor and kicks you in the kidney.

I suppose you want a few more details, though, so let’s go.

THE DREAM THIEVES is the sequel to THE RAVEN BOYS, which you may recall I loved straight from the first word to the last. I must confess, I didn’t feel quite the same about this second offering; it took me, like, three pages to fall in love with it. From thereon out, though, it is pure, shimmering gold.

This novel picks up a few weeks after its predecessor leaves off and pays greater attention to Ronan Lynch, who fills the time-honoured archetypical roll of the Surly One. The Surly One is easily distinguished from their cousin, the Obligatory Grumpy One, by a greater outward emphasis on implied cruelty. The text acknowledges that the Obligatory Grumpy one is, at heart, good-natured. The reader knows they don’t actually hate everything and would never really cause serious harm to the object of one of their rants.

With the Surly One, it’s up for debate.

Stiefvater, of course, debates it with great panache. She deconstructs Ronan’s outward image in such a way that the archetype falls to pieces. Yeah, he’s perfectly capable of beating the crap out of anyone who pisses him off, but he’s not randomly angry. He’s gone through a lot, both as a result of losing his father in such a violent way and because of his innate ability to remove objects from his dreams, and it’s shaped him. He’s grieving for his family, he’s hunted by vicious dream-creatures, and he hasn’t felt like he’s in a position to really do anything about what’s happened to him.

This book changes that, of course. Ain’t no story if it doesn’t.

While Ronan kind of steals the show (oh how I love Ronan, partly for the reasons sketched in above and partly for some halfway spoilery stuff that’s also highly personal and maybe won’t apply to you), THE DREAM THIEVES does expand the story in other ways. I’m pleased with how Blue’s arc is shaping up. Her family life continues to fascinate me, and her romantic life is by no means straightforward for having been prophesied. There are plenty of believable complications, coupled with some gorgeous tension between all parties involved. More, please.

Adam and Gansey’s relationship continues to evolve, too. Stiefvater does an admirable (and chilling) job of showing how two close friends might reach the point Adam saw in his vision back in THE RAVEN BOYS. It’s painful to read.

And as if that weren’t enough, there’s a surprisingly delightful hit man, some ethereal magic, and a large-scale magical battle.

Oh, and a ghost. I couldn't manage to squeeze the ghost into my review of THE RAVEN BOYS, but I simply must shoehorn him in here.

I’m happy, y’all, and I need more. Who do I have to bribe to get an advance copy of Book #3 the moment the ARCs go out?

Links

While I always advocate your local library as the absolute best source for books, I recognize this may not be an option for everyone where every book is concerned. If you're in search of another way to read THE DREAM THIEVES, you can try:

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12 comments:

  1. Sigh! I can't wait to listen to this one on audio. I'm going to Ireland in the spring and I really think this is the book I will listen to on all my air travel. Love!

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    1. I think this would make excellent listening for the Ireland-bound. When it comes time to reread it, I plan to make an effort to get the audio edition. I'll probably read THE RAVEN BOYS, since I first listened to that one, and listen to THE DREAM THIEVES, since I first read that one.

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  2. I just want to scribble YYYYYYYYYYY all over review.

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    1. YES, YOU DO. (Caps lock 100% necessary.)

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  4. I loved this one too. I feel like I often don't love Book2 as much as Book1, but this time I absolutely did.

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    1. Me, too. There's no slump here; Stiefvater keeps things moving forward without devolving into lots of unnecessary reflection.

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  5. My heart in every scene with Adam Parrish. Can't even deal with it. I need everything to turn out okay for Adam.

    (I was stupidly glad that it turned out Ronan hadn't tried to kill himself. I fretted about that a lot, partly because I like Ronan and also partly that it made me sad to have Gansey be fretting about it so much. And also I teared up a little when Ronan paid Adam's rent. It is my favorite thing when Ronan does nice deeds for Adam.)

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    1. I'm horribly, horribly worried things won't turn out okay for Adam. I'm counting on Maggie Stiefvater to surprise me and have him run through a flowery field towards a puppy at the very end. Or something similarly nice.

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  6. I read The Raven Boys earlier this year, and enjoyed it so much that I want to get Bk 2 for Christmas. I skimmed your review because I didn't want to know too much about what happens, though I am glad to read at the end of your post that the ghost is still there! I love the Welsh aspect of the myth, and am very curious how this will play out. Yes, I think Book 2 is going to be in my box :-)

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    1. Excellent move! I recently reread this and loved it even more the second time around. It's perfection.

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