The Dream Thieves

Dream ThievesRonan Lynch, one of the four Aglionby Academy students introduced in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, has secrets—lots of secrets. In the first Raven Cycle book, we got a few hints about his secrets, particularly the secret surrounding Ronan finding his father beaten to death with a tire iron. In this book, we learn of his secret ability to bring objects back from dreams. That secret has put him in danger. How will he escape? And how do his activities tie in with the magic surrounding the ley line recently awoken by his friend Adam?

Although Ronan was not one of my favorite characters in The Raven Boys, I was intrigued by him and wondered when and what would be revealed about his father’s death and the will that bars Ronan and his brothers from the family property. The answers offered here are satisfying. Ronan is still not my favorite Raven Boy (like Blue Sargent, the non-psychic daughter of a psychic family, I’m torn between Adam and Gansey), but I have a lot of affection for this “keeper of secrets, fighter of men, devil of a boy.”

As for Blue Sargent, her budding romance with Adam is complicated by Adam’s behavior since the awakening of the ley line and her own feelings for Gansey, the boy who she knows is doomed to die that year—perhaps from Blue’s own kiss. One of my hesitations about this series was a premise that seemed built on a love triangle, but I’ve been pleased at the limited amount of attention—and the nature of the attention—that this plot receives. Blue’s feelings are complicated, as are the characters. Adam in particular is dealing with his own history and the consequences of his actions in the last book, and the way he deals is to build barriers. As Gansey observes, Adam did not grow up surrounded by love, as Blue and Gansey both did, and this lack has wounded him. Adam has in the past attributed his pain and resentment with his poverty, but his disadvantages run deeper than that. With all her characters, Stiefvater thoughtfully reveals how personal history, temperament, choices, and chance all come together to make people what they are.

I love Stiefvater’s characters, and I’m enjoying the story, although my feelings about the story overall will depend largely on how the many plot developments play out over the next two books. The story feels a trifle overstuffed right now, but I don’t mind if the threads all lead to something. I’m finding myself a little torn about the writing. At times, I love it—she takes risks with her metaphors and paints vivid pictures of places and people. Taking risks means the occasional wince-inducing clunker of a phrase—language that draws attention to itself rather than adding to the atmosphere. On the whole, however, I’d rather a writer take a few risks than consign a good story to bland prose, and Steifvater’s choices are usually successful. I can’t complain too much when the risks produce passages like this:

They set off on the perfectly straight ley line, Ronan’s gaze still directed up to his plane and to Chainsaw, a white bird and a black bird against the azure ceiling of the world. As they walked, a sudden wind hurled low across the grass, bringing with it the scent of moving water and rocks hidden in shadows, and Blue thrilled again and again with the knowledge that magic was real, magic was real, magic was real.

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6 Responses to The Dream Thieves

  1. Lu says:

    I really agree with everything you said here. The story does feel a little over stuffed. Stiefvater does take risks with her writing, and I agree that sometimes it is clunky, but for the most part it’s just lovely. I think one of the reasons I loved the audio so much (aside from Will Patton’s dreamy voice… I am a broken record) is the fact that it let me just immerse myself in the world that Stiefvater create. I ended up really liking Ronan by the end of The Dream Thieves, but I also just liked in general how complex every character is. I do hope the conclusion is satisfying!

    • Teresa says:

      I liked Ronan a lot by the end, too. I’m still more attached to Gansey and Adam, and just thinking about what’s likely to be ahead for them breaks my heart.

      This does seem like the kind of writing that would be great on audio. It feels just a little ethereal, and that kind of language is nice to listen to.

  2. Marcia Lengnick says:

    do you think this series is appropriate for a soon to be 9 year old boy.. in third grade and an excellent reader. Thanks. Marcia

    Sent from my iPad

    • Teresa says:

      Not being a parent or teacher, my guess is that this would be more appropriate for someone over 12 or 13. The characters are older teens, and some of their not-very-good choices are described in detail. The story also gets pretty violent in a gritty and realistic way. Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising series might be a good alternative. It tells a similar story, using some of the same mythology.

  3. Hahaha, all these posts about Maggie Stiefvater are killing me! I can’t read her yet because I have resolved not to read ANY NEW BOOKS by white authors until I read something by a non-white author. (All of my posts for January so far are books by white authors. Bah.) AND, my library is CLOSED (they’re moving) so I can’t get any books from it AT ALL. No Maggie Stiefvater for me until February. :(

    • Teresa says:

      I just squeaked this in before the TBR Dare, partly because my sister, my personal Stiefvater evangelist, sent me her copy the minute her husband finished reading it, so I got it before Jan 1. Otherwise, I’d be waiting until April.

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