It is fair to say that I wasn’t a big fan of the first book. I vividly remember hating the way it was written and the way the characters acted, but loving the plot-line. The second installment of the series is a vast improvement on the first one, in fact, I think I might give the first one another shot simply based on the reading experience of this book.
The Dream Thieves written by Maggie Stiefvater
Paperback- 437 pages
Published by Scholastic
In the previous book, The Raven Boys, we are introduced to Adam, Gansey, Noah, and Ronan, a group of boys, who alongside a girl named Blue, plan on discovering the grave of an ancient Welsh king, sort of an even more mythical King Arthur. Their quest however, is merely part of the overall story. We are introduced to love, mysterious abilities, the struggle of being lower-class, friendship, acceptance, pain, and every new chapter proposes more and more obstacles that must be overcome. Unlike the first installment, I felt like more means were added for us to feel for the characters and their conflicts, rather than thinking them all to be idiots.
“A secret is a strange thing.
There are three kinds of secrets. One is the sort everyone knows about, the sort you need at least two people for. One to keep it. One to never know. The second is a harder kind of secret: one you keep from yourself. Every day, thousands of confessions are kept from their would-be confessors, none of these people knowing that their never-admitted secrets all boil down to the same three words: I am afraid.
And then there is the third kind of secret, the most hidden kind. A secret no one knows about. Perhaps it was known once, but was taken to the grave. Or maybe it is a useless mystery, arcane and lonely, unfound because no one ever looked for it.
Sometimes, some rare times, a secret stays undiscovered because it is something too big for the mind to hold. It is too strange, too vast, too terrifying to contemplate.
All of us have secrets in our lives. We’re keepers or keptfrom, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches — that’s what will be left at the end of it all.”
The aspect I hated the most when I first read the book was the writing. Most people whose reviews I’ve read, have a fascination with her way of writing, thinking her to be deep and having a way with metaphors, I do not think so (except for the previous passage, that one is great). But I find myself liking her style more the further I read it. I still roll my eyes when I read some of her presumptuous sentences, but every once in a while, there are certain quotes that I love to underline and analyse. It grew on me, like a fungus.
“[Blue] wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged on, Gansey clearly wished he had one.
Ronan wasn’t a fan of lamps.”
It is quite conspicuous by the images above that I adore the pairing of Ronan and Adam, they are adorable. When I first heard about how Ronan felt for Adam, even before reading the novel, I was not too sure I would love them as a couple, mostly because it did not seem like there were any indications of Ronan’s fascination with Adam. Now, I feel the need to re-read it just so I can trace exactly to the point it began. There is a lot sexual frustration vibrating off of poor Ronan and Adam, but mostly Ronan, as Adam is still somehow panning after Blue.
“He hurriedly sprawled back in the seat, throwing one jean-covered leg over the top of Adam’s and laying his head in a posture of thoughtless abandon.
…His gaze followed his brother’s leg to where it rested on top of Adam’s, and his expression tightened.”
Is there still any doubt about his feelings after this? When he openly throws himself over Adam before his brother? Many people, including characters in the book, believe him to have feelings running deep for Gansey, while in truth, he is entranced with Adam. I love it! The connotations to come after this reveal, in a young adult novel, with such a strong following, will be a huge move towards representation, which some high profile novels have been lacking in the past coupe of years.
And if you don’t believe me about the queerness in this novel, and the implications that it brings, and the development to come, read this article by Brit Mandelo on Tor, With Me or Against Me: Queer Experience in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves, it will convince you.
“That night, Ronan dreamt of his tattoo.
[…] Adam was in the dream, too; he traced the tangled pattern of the ink with his finger. He said, “Scio quid hoc est.” As he traced it further and further down on the bare skin of Ronan’s back, Ronan himself disappeared entirely, and the tattoo got smaller and smaller.
[…] Ronan woke with a start, ashamed and euphoric.”
Also this post: QUEER REPRESENTATION IN THE RAVEN CYCLE, will hopefully convince you, so we can talk about it, constantly.
The character improvement in this book was the driving force behind my non-stop reading. When I read the first novel, I was displeased with most of the characters, a least the ones that were given actual story lines. They either seemed too spoiled or too idiotic for my tastes, particularly Adam and Gansey. Now those two, alongside the main character Ronan, have interesting development. Adam does not seem like whinny, but rather I can understand where he is coming from, why he acts the way he does, and how his feelings are presented. Gansey is not as big a dimwit as before, instead I find him endearing. And Ronan, is just lost, we feel his pain, and want only to help him overcome it. Blue and Noah however, barely get any development. Not that they got much personality in the first book anyways, but since this was such a vast advancement, I hoped they would get a second chance. Let us hope the third time is the charm.
Yet, the plot continues to be interesting. New story-lines have been added, and all sound way more interesting that the simple hunt for Owen Glendower I appreciated in the beginning. Who is the Grey Man? How can things be taken out of dreams? Who murdered Niall Lynch? What is a Greywarren? And many, many more interesting questions.Some get answered straight forward, others are left to be found on the next installment.
Thank goodness that I decided to continue on with the series, otherwise I would not have discovered a new book (series?) to love. I highly recommend this novel, even if the first one wasn’t for you, because the improvement is obvious, and it is a good study, not only for character development, but queerness in young adult fiction.
CAN WE JUST APPRECIATE HOW CUTE THEY ALL ARE?
Anyways, did you like it as much as I did? Did you dislike it like I did the first book?