October 20, 2014

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 409 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is 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 has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, 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 never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Thoughts on The Raven Boys
I fell in love with The Scorpio Races in July 2012, and I knew that I wanted to read more from Maggie Stiefvater in the future. So, I was excited to grab The Raven Boys when I spotted it at the library a few months later. I devoured the book - despite it being like nothing I'd read before or anything like something I'd typically be interested in. Around that time, I was returning to blogging after an almost six-month break. I wanted to write reviews for some of the books I'd read during those months off, but I never got around to sharing my thoughts on this book.

When The Dream Thieves came out, I knew that I wanted to re-read this one first. I'd forgotten so much about what had happened! Of course, Maggie had written the most epic summary ever for The Recaptains - but there's something so special about re-reading a book. Often, I'll find even more to love about a book than I did the first time around. And because I'm not rushing to find out what happens next, I'll spend more time savoring the book. But I kept putting it off, and so The Dream Thieves languished on my TBR. Getting approved for Blue Lily, Lily Blue was the push I needed to dive back into this world.

The Raven Boys contains exactly what I've come to expect from Stiefvater: a setting that feels like a character in its own right, poetic writing, an unhurried pace, unique mythology and incredibly well-developed characters. I feel like you could give me a bunch of different writing samples, and I'd almost immediately be able to pick out Stiefvater's from the group. She's definitely mastered the art of finding her writing voice!

You meet Blue Sargent, the clairvoyant women she lives with and the Aglionby students who will change her life in ways she never anticipated. You're introduced to Blue's curse, the promise of death, the quest for buried treasure and the strange and sinister things lurking under the surface in Henrietta, Virginia.

I think what I loved most in The Raven Boys was the writing. The actual premise is a bit confusing, and I'm truthfully not a fan of most of paranormal elements of the story. And yet, I still enjoyed reading this book. While I don't love it with the same fervor as other bloggers, I think it truly displays just how talented Stiefvater is at storytelling. Her command over her prose - and her characters - is incredible. This is a book that gets better upon re-reading because you're able to see all the details Stiefvater has woven throughout the book that lead up to the big "reveals." I closed the last page, took a deep breath, and picked up The Dream Thieves.

So Quotable
“She wasn't interested in telling other people's futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 439 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Series: The Raven Cycle #2
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

Thoughts on The Dream Thieves
I picked up The Dream Thieves anxious to find out more about the bombshell that was revealed near the ending of The Raven Boys. I started reading, and I think I highlighted the entire first page. I knew immediately that I had nothing to worry about when it came to the writing - Stiefvater was going to deliver another story that would mesmerize me with its lyricism. Ronan is the central character in The Dream Thieves, but all of the characters get their due (and you meet a few new ones, too). This book also brings about a small shift in tone. Where The Raven Boys felt like an adventure I'd want to join, The Dream Thieves introduced me to the horrors hiding underneath the surface. It was darker, more tense and an even creepier read than the previous book. And even the first one felt a little nerve-wracking at times!

Here's the thing on The Dream Thieves - although I'd describe the entire series as character-driven, I think this is the only one that feels like it's almost solely focused on character development. There seemed to be very little forward momentum when it came to the quest, and the action that did take place was there so that certain characters could have there moment. In a way, it made the plot easier to follow because there seemed to be a little less ley line mythology. But, for me, it was a much slower read. I still finished it quickly, but it wasn't quite as engaging overall.

While I love Stiefvater's writing, I also have to admit that I often feel like it goes a little over my head. There are moments where it feels so stylized, so layered and complex, that I wonder if I'm truly grasping the meaning behind it all. I don't even know if I would say that it's a negative quality of the book - it's just one thing that keeps me from fully connecting to these characters. The characters are so multidimensional, and yet they still feel almost mythical. The blend of magic and mystery just makes it seem like I'm reading a fairy tale instead of a book set somewhere real and populated with people I might know. The paranormal elements do make it more of a fantasy, but I think the writing style contributes to that feeling, too.

Overall, I was enchanted by The Dream Thieves. I'll admit that I think it seemed just a little indulgent at times, but that might just be because I'm anxious to actually uncover the secrets of Cabeswater. I appreciate all the character development, but I'm ready to go traipsing through some caves!

So Quotable
"History was always buried deep, even when you know where to look. And it was hard to excavate it without damaging it. Brushes and cotton swabs, not chisels and pickaxes. Slow work. You had to like doing it."

1 comment:

  1. Okay so I read The Raven Boys (the audiobook is one of my all-time favorites because of the reader) and I LOVED IT, like painfully so. But because of the ending, I am not sure I will be able to continue with this series until it is completed. So as much as it hurts, I am waiting until the end of this one. And it is SO HARD. Oh my, it is hard. Even then, I'm not sure how I'll survive this series. I already love these characters so much just from reading through the first book once, and I've done everything I can to make myself forget the story so I'll be fresh for a GIANT series re-read.

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