Sunday, July 2, 2017

Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Title:  The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date Published: September 17th, 2013

Description (from Goodreads): "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…"

Spoiler Alert: The remainder of the review will feature spoilers. 

Review: After reading The Raven Boys, I was incredibly excited to finally get my hands on (well, not literally because ebooks are a thing) the second book in Maggie Stiefvater's wonderful Raven Cycle series, The Dream Thieves. I read The Raven Boys way back at the beginning of the year, and I was greeted with beautiful prose, good characters, and a gripping story leaving me wanting more, more, more. The Dream Thieves continued the amazing narrative of the first books and allowed me to delve even deeper into the story's magical world.

Perhaps the best thing, in a long list of best things, about this book (and the series as a whole) is the strong cast of characters. The primary set of characters (Gansey, Ronan, Noah, Adam, Blue) not only have uniquely fabulous names, but they are fully fleshed out and refreshingly real. Gansey is an old-man trapped in a teenage body with a strange obsession over the Welsh King Glendower. Ronan, the quintessential bad boy, might be rough around the edges, but he is wonderfully sensitive and empathetic, and he also has a rather kick-ass crow on his shoulder. Oh yea, and he can take things from his dreams. Adam is mysteriously dark, attempting to bridge his traumatic past with new and independent future, one he is losing control of after his agreement with Cabeswater. Even Noah, perhaps the least developed of the characters, is amazingly likable, though maybe the most mysterious out of all the Raven Boys. And Blue. The not-so-psychic daughter of a family of psychics. The girl who can't kiss her true love without killing him. The girl that often acts as the voice of reason in a group of sometimes idiotic group of teenage boys. I'm struggling to think of another novel that has me so invested in the characters, and I think Stiefvater's ability to write good characters is further cemented in the second book of The Raven Cycle. 

Much of this ability stems from her ability to create characters that are innately real. The emotions of the characters feel genuine and elicited strong empathy from me as I read. It seems anger is a major aspect of the character development in this installment, as both Ronan and Adam struggle with their ability to manage their anger, hell, their feelings in general (#puberty). In fact, much of The Dream Thieves focuses on the characters, shying away from the primary plot of finding Glendower just slightly, and the tension between characters is pushed to the forefront. Despite them being such a close group of friends, the characters seems to isolate themselves, struggling with their relationships with one another, and shifting the group dynamic created in The Raven Boys. While the book ultimately ends with the Raven Boys (yes, I include Blue in this designation) once again unified and much of the tension between them dispelled, I am expecting a growing hostility between to be explored in the final two novels.

I've been driveling on and on about the characters, and I still haven't mentioned the unabashedly charming Gray Man, aka Dean Allen. Mr. Gray's initial appearance in the novel ostensibly paints him as (one of) the primary antagonist(s) of the novel, though he was incredibly difficult to dislike, and I found him to be one of the most charming characters I've ever read. Part-time hit-man, part-time Old English academic, Mr. Gray's humanity seems to rest itself on his handling of the Graywaren (Ronan), and thankfully, he's able to escape his demons and his profession (which is oddly normalized), seemingly linking up with Blue's mom, Maura at the end of the book. I hope he continues to be a presence in the series.

Like The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves begins slow, the language unhurried and magical as Stiefvater once again draws the reader into the dreamy and mythical world of the Raven Boys. Much of this slow start seems to stem from Stiefvater's strong development of the characters, and the story's richness that requires quite a bit of backstory and explanation to fully understand. Though perfectly following everything that happens (e.g. the magical characteristics of Cabeswater, Ronan's ability to remove things from his dreams) can be difficult at times, the plot progression and strong characters allow the story to press forward without the book from becoming boring or too encumbered by the rules of Stiefvater's world. Despite the slow start, the novel quickly becomes hard to put down, as the final third of the novel quickens, leading to a thrilling end -- one that is both satisfying and not very predictable.

I am decidedly in love with this series, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, very soon. Go and pick up The Raven Boys, then very quickly check out The Dream Thieves -- it's brilliant.

Rating5/5 Stars

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