Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater: Let's get lost in this summer dream together!

The Dream Thieves
Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press: New York, September 17, 2013
ISBN: 9780545424943
ARC provided by publisher 

Picking up right where she left us agonizing over Ronan Lynch’s admission that he can bring his dreams to life in The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater does not disappoint in her second entry to this unique, lavish yet subtly magical YA cycle.  The Dream Thieves begins with a new point of view: Ronans, and takes us straight back to Henrietta, Virginia.  It is summer vacation, and Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah, and Blue are still on the hunt for Glendower, though there have been subtle and not so subtle shifts in the group dynamic.  Adam’s rogue sacrifice and pride begin to affect his relationships with Gansey and Blue, who finds herself closer to exploring prophecy that has defined her life.  Ronan, meanwhile, struggles to control his newly admitted powers, but all, including the refreshing, interested adult psychics of 300 Fox Way, are challenged when a stranger arrives in town searching for the Graywaren.  Who, what, where this is will all be revealed in the scintillating new addition to the Raven Cycle.  It is a recommended read for humans over the age of 12, and all libraries, personal, public, and scholastic, wise enough to boast The Raven Boys as part of their holdings.  

Let’s cut right to the chase: holy sh*tf*re and tarnation, cowpokes.  Jonesing for a book I could get lost in, I loved The Dream Thieves, maybe even more than Raven Boys. Sophomore syndrome? What is that?  Aside from a setting for the climax best described as Hollywood dance movie meets Fast and Furious meets Alien v. Predator (which still, somehow, works), this book is allll a-game, no steroids (I’m looking at you, MLB).  

As with most sequels, I found the first chapter a little bit forced and heavy handed with the recapping the last book, instead of just hitting the ground at a sprint.  Someday, I want the whole story at once, publishers - don’t waste my time with these cycles, sequels, trilogies, whateverogies!  I want the whole shebang, all at once!  Before I digress, let’s break some of my thoughts on characters, slow burning, drinking games, adults in the book, shall we?  Like you have a choice.  You’ve been duly warned that spoilers pepper the remainder of this review.  If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, pepper h8rs!

We are introduced to several new POVs, some major character revelations (I’m looking at you, page 412 Ronan!), get a closer look at what makes our Raven Boys tick (especially those Lynch boys), and spend some time smoochin’, doin’ magic, and yes, end on another durn cliffhanger.  As with Scorpio Races and the first volume in this series, this work  is haunting, evocatively penned, and just plain fun.  Take, for example, this line:
It smelled like two hundred years of salt ham. (p 31)
What fantastic descriptive language, right? I mean, I know instantly what the basement in question smells exactly like, that I probably don’t want to hang out there if I want to keep my relationship with prosciutto healthy, and that Maggie Stiefvater is just straight having fun writing this.  

I’ll skip over the part where I gush about how much I love Ronan.  Bad boy crush?  Check.  Inappropriate?  Check.  Why do you think we’re skipping over it?  He’s got a lot of depth to him that gets explored throughout the whole book, so why don’t you just read the book already and let’s start with Adam.  Oh, sweet, abused, sad, poor, hardworking, elegant, tormented, proud Adam.  That was our moment to acknowledge these things about him.  Now, let’s get critical.  What I do struggle to understand, which obvi he struggles to see, is the straight hypocrisy in his decision to...I guess sacrifice himself in Raven Boys (which, duh, is OBVI a big part of Dream Thieves) to find Glendower and win his favor.  That’s right - Adam is willing to accept a favor from Glendower to get the life he wants (basically, a magical shortcut to steel appliances, as I understand it), but not from Gansey?  That seems a little bass ackwards, even though, sure, you could argue that in finding Glendower, he would feel that he’s earned the favor.

I also would like to point out that I love, love, LOVE, the extra time we spend with Maura, Persephone, Calla, Orla, etc.  I love the ladies of 300 Fox Way!  Not only do we get some slightly more elevated sexual tension (Oh, hello Grey Man.  Welcome, first age appropriate YA crush in a while.  You’re a sight for sore eyes!), they’re just a wonderful bunch of psychics to have a drink with - and seriously, if you drank for every time drinking is mentioned in this book, including when drinks are drank, well, you’d have a hard time.  As an adult who loves YA, I do appreciate the subtle nod to adults reading this book!  It’s lovely when an author writing about adults creates mostly stable, flawed yet humane adults who teens can respect and look up to, and more importantly, are present in the story as good adults.  Badults is such an overdone, convenient trend.  It’s bold, brave, and fantastic to spend time with these sweet, funny, quirky women, who - yes, believe the hype - want good things for the teenagers in their lives.  I do have to wonder about something: if Calla works at Aglionby, doesn’t she recognize the boys?  I mean...I work in a prep school too.  It’s not like there’s THAT many kids?  

I have to note: what. the. flip. are. these. boys. wearing.  #JustNO.  I don’t mean to quibble.  Really, I don’t.  I loved this.  But, Maggie.  Maggie.  Let’s talk tight tank tops and rich preppy White boys.     I basically teach Raven Boys,  AKA very wealthy, mostly Caucasian WASPy prepsters, who in my case, don’t actually have to wear uniforms.  I can assure you - they don’t look like a combo of 1999 era N*Sync and...just read it for yourself:
Like many of the other raven boys, he spotted massive sunglasses, spiked hair, a small earring, a chain around his neck, and a white tank top. (p 50).
Um...I will allow that a New England Prepster may be very different beast from a Virginia Prepster.  BUT NOT BY MUCH.  I can assure you, I have never seen a prepster wearing that outfit (caveat: since 1998).  This is what they look like.  I get that Kazinsky is cut from drug dealing Eurocloth.  But no.  Just no undershirt tanks, no spiked hair, no earrings no matter the size, no chains.  But I would like to see the Raven Boys in jeans more.  Especially that Gansey!

Now let’s talk about my favorite part.  Mistress Maggie of the Slowburnin’ Stiefvaters strikes again!  Even though I warned you about spoilers, I don’t really want to spoil this, although if you read the books you’ve known since the very first chapter the two in question who are burning so hot they are blue and in need of an epi pen.  Just hot diggity, guys.  My post-it from this point really just sums it up perfectly, I think.  I can’t move on until I acknowledge the brilliance of the line that little post-it Damn arrow is pointing too, because blow me stacks, I was floored:
This is what it should have felt like...less like playacting and more like a foregone conclusion. (p 367)
I’ve never encountered that rightness of that feeling summed up so succinctly as it is in that sentence: it really is a foregone conclusion. Sigh!  

Well, that’s more or less  my fourteen post-it notes summed up.  Except after making a drink inspired by the Raven Boys (and girl), and realizing that drinking when they drink or mention drinking or booze in Dream Thieves would probably not be a healthy choice, I had to wonder: what other characters or things need a drink made for them in this book?  I came up with: The Grey Man (something with Grey Goose), 300 Fox Way (a screwdriver of sorts?), Chainsaw (I can’t even...), Cabeswater (anything wet, possibly green), The Greywarren (possibly also Grey Goose?), The Lynch Brothers (communion wine?), The Pig (something aged and infused with bacon)...?  There have to be more I’m missing; these books are just asking for it.  

After finishing Dream Thieves, I struggled, team.  That is, I struggled to start writing this review, and worse, even on settling upon what to read next.  I just didn’t want it to be over!  I savored this one, either because it symbolized the end of my only scheduled summer adventure, or because, lets face it, it’s hard not to savor this one.  This is a book that begs to be enjoyed in the summer, in heat, sweating while dreaming of lush green mountainsides, trees, fields, and the song of crickets.  Okay - so it’s probably also a great book to read out of season, longing for said things.  

There’s nothing else to do but grab a copy of Dream Thieves, pour yourself a ice-cold, tall drink of water Raven Boy, settle in, and prepare for a good time, and make your summer last through the fall.

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