The Dream Thieves was one of the ARCs I was lucky enough to pick up at ALA, and the only one I stood in line for (okay, I stood in the Rose Under Fire line, but I didn’t get the ARC itself). It took me a few weeks to actually read it, and a few more days to finish, at the end of which time I was a puddle on the floor limply waving the book around and spluttering.
Incidentally, I would highly recommend rereading The Raven Boys before starting The Dream Thieves. There is very little helpful explication here, especially where the very minor characters are concerned. Several times I wondered if this name was supposed to mean something to me, if I had forgotten that they appeared in the first book, but I didn’t want to stop reading to find out.
Things start out pretty slowly, but I was willing to tolerate this because 1) Maggie Stiefvater and 2) it was all nice character development, and I like character development a lot. Plus, once I got a good chunk of the way through the book I found one of its greatest strengths: I had no idea what was going to happen. Which, let me tell you, is hard to do. I read a lot, and I think I pay attention to the shape of stories. Maybe it’s the fact that I am always interested in how authors set things up. At any rate, it takes a lot for a story to surprise me, which means I always value the ones that do. Often by the time I’m partway through a book I will have a pretty decent idea of how things are going to turn out; this is especially true of the type of books that tend to follow formulas. So all that to say that I valued the fact that at no time during The Dream Thieves did I have any clue what was coming next. And even after I finished, I was so baffled that I couldn’t even venture a guess about the next book.
If I can keep going on a technical note, one of the other things I loved about this book was the shape of the story. This is definitely Ronan’s story, but each of the other arcs somehow mirrors his and all of them give us some kind of insight into the slow reveal of his character. From his father to Adam and Kavinsky, each of them have both echo and shape him. And so, although there are many storylines, what I end up remembering is a unified story, one which is not scattered but which has a singleness of purpose.
Oh, Ronan Lynch. Who I did not like in the first book–he was the least sympathetic of the boys and I didn’t see any reason for that to change. But it did change. By the end of the book he was a real person to me, as vulnerable and hurt and brave as much as anyone else. I loved this. I loved the way the story told in The Dream Thieves ups the stakes and complicates the story that was told in The Raven Boys. I have the feeling that if I re-read The Raven Boys, I would read it in a whole new way, seeing depths and connections I wouldn’t have before. And yet, at the same time, I think they were already there.
I had suspicions about a potential development, which did indeed turn out to be the case. However, it was in the “the text seems to be hinting this, but is it true?” way, not the “well, that was super obvious, why didn’t the character see it?” way. Again, Stiefvater shades in hints over the course of the book so that the confirmation is both a surprise and completely believable.
And I loved what she did with the other characters as well. Adam has a very important part too, and one that had my heart in my mouth for most of the book. I loved the tension of that storyline and also how it resolved. And BLUE. I was a bit iffy on Blue at the end of The Raven Boys, because she seemed to react so much rather than act, but The Dream Thieves changed that. I love her, I love the choices she makes and her reasons for making them.
Basically, in case it’s not clear, this was one big lovefest for me. The only thing I was more dubious about was Maura’s arc, because WHAT? But Stiefvater has proved herself so deftly when she’s taken on risky plots that I am willing to wait and see where that’s going. So yes. When is the next one coming out?
Book source: ARC from ALA
Book information: 2013, Scholastic; YA fantasy