Book Review: The Dream Thieves

|+| Warnings: Drug use, mild torture, violence |+|

“Secrets and cockroaches-that’s what will be left at the end of it all.”  ~The Dream Thieves

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Woots! Fist book review of the year! This is the sequel to The Raven Boys, and while I’ve done my best to make sure there are no spoilers for both books I might have accidentally let something slip. Please consider this your fair warning.

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre:  YA paranormal fantasy/mystery, romance

Summary: Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.

One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.

And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys-a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by there elite private school, Aglonby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface-changing everything in its wake.

My Opinion: This book was awesome. What I loved about The Raven Boys was back in full force in the sequel. The fantastic characters and their organic development, the mythology and magic. Once again, things that seemed random fell in place. There were a couple of plot twists, and once again, they had me on the edge of my seat. My biggest issue was the ending. Unlike the first book, this ending felt a bit anti-climatic in a way. Also, I was expecting more about the school because there’s been so much buildup surrounding it. All in all, I gave this book four stars.

While the last book focused mostly on Gansey and Noah, this book focused mostly on Ronan and Adam. While the last book let me down a bit in getting to know Blue, I felt like I really got to know her character a lot better. I loved seeing more magic from Ronan and Adam, and getting more depth into their characters as well. There are new villains and some old ones, but they show their colors in a new way. At first I was a little wary at some of these changes, but they were executed so well that I was behind these changes all the way.

The world building was one of the things that got me hooked on the first books. Thanks to how the characters and the magic of the world are tied together, I got even more of that. But the school really wasn’t a big part of this book. From the summary and the last book, I was thinking that there would be more about the mystery of the school. It’s clear in the set up in The Raven Boys that Aglionby holds plenty of secrets. This book didn’t touch on them. That seemed like it would be such a huge element, yet it just was not addressed here. I get that it was summer in this book, but still…

Then there was the ending. There were two sub plots that really carried this book, and both had a rather anti-climatic endings. The first plot twist that had me on the edge of my seat was resolved in such a way that I just sort of frowned at the book and went “ok?” The second plot had a stronger resolution, but it still felt weak. Even with the well done cliff hanger ending, the whole last 20 pages just fell short for me.

The ending of The Dream Thieves certainly hasn’t stopped me from diving into Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but it did put a damper on the book for me. Despite not seeing certain things and those anti-climatic plot resolutions, this book was a great one. It built on what had been established in The Raven Boys and really moved the saga forward.

TL;DR: No second book syndrome here! While The Dream Thieves didn’t quite live up to The Raven Boys for me, it still was a wonderful read. It built on what happened in the first book, added depth to all previous elements, and really carried the overall story forward beautifully. The more I read, the more I fall in love with this series. If you read the first book and are hesitating to read the second, don’t, it’s well worth it!

 

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Book Review: The Raven Boys

|+| Triggers: Abusive home situations |+|

“She wasn’t interested in telling people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.” ~The Raven Boys

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Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA paranormal/mystery romance

Summary: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

My Opinion: I totally blame the read along by buttermybooks  for getting me to finally read this book. But note in that very friendly blame is an incredible amount of gratitude. I heard someone say once that you don’t pick books, they pick you. You’ll read the right books at the right time. This was definitely the case for me with The Raven Boys. The diversity and depth of characters, the world building and the mythology completely sold me on this book and series. 5 stars!

I’ll start off by getting my one complaint out of the way. Blue. Without her you don’t have a story. Blue is the trigger for everything just about. Yet I feel like I knew very little about her. From the summary I was under the impression that Blue was the main character and so we’d see a lot of her. We saw a good bit of her, and I really enjoyed what I did read about her, but I felt like I knew Gansey and Adam simply because so much time was spent on them. I’m hoping this will improve as the series goes on, but that was the one thing that got on my nerves.

Despite that I loved this book. I learned a lot about myself in this book in a way. Not only does it have a plethora of Welsh mythology (my family is originally from that area, a few generations back mind you, but still, I felt connected to my history), it also touches on a lot of raw human emotions and situations that I could relate to. I found myself wanting to pack up and look for my own Cabeswater or find a magical portal and move into the world of the Raven Boys.

In my favorite books I’ve been able to see a large part of myself in the main character, and only really in them. Yet in The Raven Boys, I saw a part of myself in Blue, Gansey, Noah, Adam, and Ronan. Together the elements of them all added up to me in a way. It made the book a very personal experience because I could deeply and equally connect to the five main characters. That made certain parts of the book hard to read for sure, but made the book so worth it. While I wasn’t able to relate as deeply to the minor characters, they were still fleshed out and interesting. This speaks to Stiefvater’s skills as a writer, to be able to flesh out each character to the point where readers can deeply connect to each one.

I really do think Stiefvater is my new favorite author. Her style reminds me a bit of the writing found in The Great Gatsby (which is one of my favorite books fite me). Lyrical, somewhat repetitive in parts to get the deeper meanings across, and very natural. Something about the writing style made the book incredibly emotional, even in the slower parts. Even if Stiefvater wrote in loving detail how Adam made a sandwich and spent 12 pages on it I would enjoy every single one of those pages (she doesn’t but seriously I’d read it). I’d also probably know a whole heck of a lot about Adam. That’s just Stiefvater for you. Slips in things that you don’t think are important that lead to massive plot twists.

Kind of like the major plot twist that I’m not talking about because of spoilers. I had to put the book down for a bit to comprehend what I had just read when I came to that part. Yet that wasn’t the only plot twist and all twists were well done. Each twist used everything that was already previously explained. I never felt like these twists were out of the blue and never felt like I was cheated by them.

Ultimately you should read this book. Go read it. The characters are deeply interesting, the plot twists are actually twisty and the mystery is well done. If you like magic, epic quests, smart people sometimes doing stupid things/stupid people sometimes doing smart things, really freaking weird forests, and Welsh mythology you need to read this. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of all of those things, give this book a try.

TL;DR: The world building, character development, and beautiful writing style made this book one of my favorites of the year. It’s a beautiful book on so many levels and I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

Bookish Recap (April)

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Well during April I’ve spent most of my time studying for school (finals on the horizon ugh), and then adjusting to a new (but great) job. Throughout all of that adjusting I haven’t had a lot of time to read. But I did manage to read some.

As in one book. As in I finally read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. It was a fantastic book and I really wasn’t expecting it to live up to the intense hype it had. But it really did.

But you can find out about that this Friday.

In the mean time I think that things are finally slowing down. I’m done with school, and I’ve gotten into the swing of things at work. I’ve been keeping a log of ideas I have for the blog, so expect some tweaks in the future. Personally I’m really looking forward to them! Despite the tweaks I’m still keeping the weekly Friday posts for now.

Although I only read one book this month that book made me incredibly happy and introduced me to a new author. The fact I read at all (and am reading a few other books on and off before I go to bed), is great. At least I’m not in a reading slump! And with things finally slowing down a bit I’ll have even more time to read.

I’m looking forward to it. April might not have been a huge reading month for me but I’ve got plenty of great books that I’m looking forward to reading in May (such as finishing The Raven Cycle).