Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Thanks to Christina for letting me read over her shoulder!

 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...

The worst thing about getting a book you've been waiting for, anxiously, for almost a year, is finishing it and realizing that you will have to wait yet another year for it to continue. I watched a danisnotonfire video about fiction addictions today, and everything he says is pretty much true. Sometimes, you get so invested in something that you want to live there instead of in reality, and the fictional problems of these characters are so much more important than your own (such as getting a job, looming deadlines, being hopelessly behind on all your other commitments), and just as you're really settling in, imagining exactly where and how you'd fit in with this merry cast of awesomeness, the story ends, and you are violently and suddenly ripped right out of the fantastic into boring, old, seemingly endless reality. And the only question you can form in your head is: why?

The Dream Thieves was just such a book for me. Maggie Stiefvater just has this gift to create vacuums when she writes that just suck you right into the middle of the action, into the middle of the world she's created, and she keeps you there until either the book ends, or you manage to tear yourself away from it long enough to close it. There were perhaps a couple minor things I wish I could change, but this book is glorious. Everyone should read it, if for no other reason than to appreciate her gorgeous writing.

1. Characters: 6/5 (and no, the 6 is not a typo. It's just me being cheesy.)
I'm not one to talk about characters needing to be "relatable," because the world is a big, diverse place. There are plenty of people on it to whom I could never hope to relate; however, Blue, in this book, was very relatable to me, mostly because of the way she feels about the boys—wanting so desperately to fit in with them, but knowing that she never could because of one fundamental difference, in this case, because she is a girl. I also can identify with her struggle to want to be with someone so badly, but knowing that, in the end, you can't be. To do so would mean death.

At times it was painful watching how the boys changed in this book and how their relationship grew as they did, but chalk it up to a certain bittersweetness, because despite all that change, you can tell the boys still care for each other. Both as individuals and as a collective entity, these boys most definitely fall among my favorite characters of all time. The (at times, dysfunctional) relationship between the boys is probably my favorite part of this series.

As a quick nod to the other characters in the book, they too grew more complex, seeming just as real to me as the Raven Boys or Blue did.
2. The Relationship(s): 3.5/5
The inevitable developing relationship between Blue and Gansey gets a shining moment here, just as everything seems to be spinning wildly out of control. Stiefvater does a great job of maintaining that tension between you wanting the two of them to be together and also not because of the horrible, unavoidable fate that relationship will have. She also does a great job of not letting you forget that that caveat exists. I really appreciated how responsibly Gansey and Blue both react to this development. It seemed like a type of discernment not often seen in YA relationships, though I must admit, in the last couple books I've read, the characters involved in the relationship have exhibited a similar type of sense, so maybe it's making a comeback. Or maybe it never left. You can debate me on this one.

The other relationship that pops up rather surprisingly, however, was less convincing. I'm suspicious of why it needed to happen, and it, of all the gentle nudging Stiefvater does to get us where she wants us, seemed kind of heavy-handed. It kind of comes off as a clear authorial decision made just to position people in a certain way for the next book. It was also fairly sudden, which does little to ease my suspicions. I suppose we'll have to wait and see how that turns out.
3. The Antagonist(s): 3/5
The first antagonist we meet was definitely more threatening and scary than the antagonist of The Raven Boys, but I thought he sort of ran out of steam as adding to any of the tension by about halfway through the book. The second antagonist (maybe we can call him that) seemed so flat as a character it was almost comical, so it was hard for me to take him seriously, though Stiefvater definitely does give him an interesting and unexpected twist that fleshed him out in a surprising way. Still, he never quite makes it to full-on antagonist to me.

4. Writing: 5/5
As per usual, Maggie Stiefvater's writing is just...there really are no words to describe it. She has this unique talent that no matter how hard I may try, prevents me from speed-reading her writing. There's something about it so wonderful that I feel the need to experience each word completely. I wish I had her skill to turn a phrase or to describe something so mundane in a way that almost makes it seem magical or that gets right at the heart of it by making you consider it in a totally different light. Yes. Just yes. There were a couple times I remember being confused by what was going on, though. I can't say if that's an issue with her writing or me just misinterpreting, but I'm sure I'll reread this book enough to get it all down in the long run.

5. Pacing: 4/5
The pacing seemed a bit slow, or rather, this book meanders along much like I imagine the mountain roads of Henrietta to. It sweeps along, visits every character, every nook and cranny to build the suspense and tension while simultaneously keeping us confused and slightly disoriented as we continue our slow ascent. But it's all interesting, and it all adds to the plot somehow, so I can't say that the pacing was off. Perhaps the best way to describe this book is patient.

Overall: 4.6/5

My final verdict? Get your hands on this book right now. Unusually, I think it sort of ends up without a clear antagonist, but most of what drives the book is not the fear of the antagonist finding what he's looking for, which would bring him in direct contact with the protagonists, but I think a certain fear of what's happening to the protagonists and the shared desire to know what they are or who they're becoming. The book hits stores on Tuesday.


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  2. I love the first book "The Raven Boys" but this one is even better. It starts off a little slow but then it gets so good. Great read, can't wait for the next.
    Highly recommended Alaska Brown Bear Hunts coastal