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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Review: The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Book II of the Raven Cycle. Sequel to Book I – The Raven Boys. Scholastic. 2013. Reviewed from ARC.

dreamthieves Review: The Dream ThievesThe Plot: In Book I, Blue Sargent became friends with the “Raven Boys” — Richard Campbell Gansey III, Ronan Lynch, Adam Parrish, and Noah Czarny. All had become involved in Gansey’s quest to discover in the Virginia countryside the last resting place of the fifteenth century Welsh king, Owen Glendower. A significant step had been made in awaking the ley lines (lines of energy.) It had not been without cost, but all had been excited about the next step.

In The Dream Thieves, they discover that things aren’t as simple as they had hoped. Dangers come from both the outside and the inside. Ronan had confessed to a specific power at the end of The Raven Boys: the ability to bring things out of dreams. What are the limits of this power? Where did it come from? And will it help, or hurt, their quest?

The Good: As a quick recap on our crew: Blue is the local girl from a family of psychics, raised with the prediction that she would kill her true love with a kiss. Gansey is brilliant, rich, and driven is his search for Glendower. He’s the natural leader, but he doesn’t always see what is around him. Ronan’s father is dead and the family in a shambles. Adam, like Blue, is a local; he’s on scholarship at the elite (i.e., expensive) school that Gansey and Ronan attend. And, Noah — well. Noah is a ghost, killed years ago.

Ronan’s story drives The Dream Thieves, as the title tells. After his father’s brutal murder, the terms of his will were a bit — well, strange. “All of the money was theirs, but on one condition: [the three Lynch brothers] were never to set foot on the property again. They were to disturb neither the house nor its contents. Including their mother.” Their father is lost through death; their mother retreats into a type of depression/sadness; and the boys literally cannot return home. Ronan may have money like Gansey, but without family he’s lost. But, wait, three brothers? He has some family then, right? Not quite. His older brother is bossy, his youngest is, well, young.

Ronan’s created family are his friends. They are what matter to him. Gansey wants to find Glendower? Ronan is in. And, as it turns out, Ronan has his own gift that brings him to the search for Glendower. The ability to bring things out of dreams. If that sounds wonderful to you, remember your last nightmare. Would you want to bring that out of your dreams? It also turns out that Gansey’s quest isn’t enough. Ronan wants more excitement in his life, and he gets it from racing cars. Being as I’m not a car person, what I liked about this turn of plot wasn’t the racing itself. It was seeing another side of Ronan; it was seeing Ronan independent of Gansey; and it was seeing how what seemed a distraction turned out to be something significant.

In many ways, Ronan is my favorite.

But Gansey — Gansey is not so much my favorite, as the brightest light. The one who takes all the attention when he’s in the room and doesn’t even know it. The one who doesn’t always realize that he’s sometimes being an arrogant SOB. “Gansey could persuade even the sun to pause and give him the time.” Even with Ronan being my favorite, and Adam being the one I root for, Gansey — Gansey overpowers them both. He’s on the page and no one else matters.

Ronan, as I said, deals with that with his dreams and his racing. Adam, well, Adam already feels inferior because of his family and his poverty so doesn’t deal with it very well. Instead he fights it. Adam is so busy trying to prove his worth and earn his place that he lets some things slip away. (How can one not want Adam to succeed? If Gansey and Ronan were born on third base, walking confidently towards home base, Adam was born ten miles from the baseball field.)

In The Raven Boys, Blue and Adam were attracted to each other, and for part of The Dream Thieves they are sort-of a couple. As much a couple as they can be, given that Blue is going to avoid kissing. Blue’s avoidance, Adam’s own insecurities, leads to — well. Let me just say I loved how realistic this was, and all the feelings! And emotions! Of Blue and Adam.

Which brings me back to Blue. I loved, loved, loved how The Dream Thieves gives a deeper glimpse look into Blue’s family of psychics. I’m still not sure how all these women are related, and what would happen if one of them had a son, but I enjoyed them all. Which brings me to another favorite. (I do have a lot of favorite things in this book, don’t I?)

And that’s Maura and Norman Reedus. Um, OK, not Norman Reedus. But “Mr. Gray” is introduced in The Dream Thieves, in a particularly violent way, beating up Ronan’s older brother. The Gray Man — Mr. Gray — is an educated hit man. He works for hire, and right now is searching for something called the Greywaren. He ends up visiting the psychics and meeting Blue’s mother, Maura. Does the fact that I think of him as Norman Reedus give away that he is a bad guy who is really good, or a good guy who does bad things, or, I’m not quite sure but wowza the chemistry between Maura and Mr. Gray knocked my socks off. And, it led another layer to the story, to the quest.

Because, remember, there is the quest for Glendower. And amongst the car racing and dreams, the not kissing and the Greywaren, family obligations and jobs, there is still the quest. Yes, our intrepid band gets even closer to finding Glendower.

Needless to say: a Favorite Book Read in 2013, and when is the next book coming?

Other reviews: Forever Young Adult; Clear Eyes, Full Shelves; Teen Librarian Toolbox.

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Alissa B. says:

    Hi Elizabeth. I was fortunate enough to review the audio of this awesome book, and I agree with you completely: WOW! Great review :)

    • Elizabeth Burns says:

      This is one i’d love to reread by listening. Who is the narrator?

      • Alissa B. says:

        Same narrator who read Raven Boys, Will Patton. He’s not very versatile as far as giving each character an individual voice (and he can’t do female characters at all), but the way he reads! He’s got one of those voices you just have to keep listening to. It’s hard to explain, but you’ll see what I mean.

  2. Kristin says:

    I’ve been waiting for a review of The Dream Thieves on this blog, because the discussion on here is always so interesting. I thought the second book was an improvement over the first, though I loved the first. This book successfully built on things that were set up in the prior book but not fully revealed, while new mysteries were effectively introduced in this title.

    I thought for the most part Ronan’s major arc was resolved in this story, despite the loose ends left unresolved regarding the different secrets he has. I sense that he’s turned a corner with the anger he has for the world, and I expect him to come out on the other side of what he has yet to deal with. While he is considered the loose cannon of the group, I actually find his behavior more steady than not, regarding his loyalty and his sense of purpose. I also admire his desire to, figuratively speaking, set fire to a safe but dull room just to watch it burn.

    Adam I find less sympathetic. His aggressive single-mindedness rubs me the wrong way. While I understand why he acts the way he does, I can’t say I’m especially rooting for him. I don’t want him to meet a bad end, but I think the author has clearly set his character up for just such an outcome. There’s something sinister about his personality that is expressed differently than let’s say Ronan’s bad attitude, which feels artificial compared to the real rancor Adam has for everyone (including his friends and Blue). I never felt his relationship with Blue had resonance. It felt like a pose from the beginning, and on his end, seemed more about competition with Gansey than Blue as a person. On Blue’s end, she herself later acknowledges that their relationship felt like acting. I really liked how the author played out things between them, because it was very realistic, but I don’t mourn the end of things for them.

    I actually like Gansey’s spastic stupidity about people. He reminds me of other characters I’ve seen before who have a good heart but say stupid things in spite of it. I suspect we have yet to fully see who Gansey really is, and I like how Maggie Stiefvater has beld back from fully fleshing him out. More than anything else about this book, I love how complex the relationships are between the characters. What one character thinks about their relationship to another person is different from how the other party views it, sometimes radically so. And when things come out in the open, that doesn’t necessarily resolve the discrepancy.

    My last couple thoughts about this book: Blue’s mom was the surprise of this story, and I love those psychics more and more every time they turn up on the page. Even though there are many more than three of them, they remind me of MacBeth’s three witches, on the periphery but pivotal to the plot based on the information they selectively reveal; I suspect they know far more than they are letting on. I can’t wait for the next book either!

    • Elizabeth Burns says:

      Ronan and Gansey have such privilege that I have a soft spot for Adam, despite some of the stuff he does. So I root for him, and in part because I don’t want this to become something where the person who starts with two strikes against them somehow becomes the bad guy. Adam has to work three times as hard to get to even the starting place of where Ronan and Gansey are. I find that love/hate he has with others — the feelings of a have not towards the haves — to be realistic, but what I hope is that it veers more towards love, overall, rather than hate (and then becoming the villain, somehow. but i project or predict too much.) If nothing else, I want Adam to realize that accepting something from his friends doesn’t lessen his own accomplishments/drive.

      And I love how we get such an assorted number of viewpoints!

      • Kristin says:

        I’m hoping actually that the third book is “Adam’s Book” so to speak in the way that Dream Thieves primarily belonged to Ronan. While Adam is not my favorite of the characters, I do find him to be possibly the most complex character in the book. He’s a bit harder to read than the others, and even though I wouldn’t put him at the top of my personal friend list, his warring motivations are fascinating and yes, definitely realistic.

        I’m curious what others have to say about the story, because I’m sure there are angles that have yet to be covered!

      • Elizabeth Burns says:

        Kristin, oh, yes! One that is just Adam! I agree, the first felt more Blue’s, maybe? And this was all about Ronan.

  3. ” Even with Ronan being my favorite, and Adam being the one I root for, Gansey — Gansey overpowers them both. He’s on the page and no one else matters.” YES. THIS. (Months after the fact, I still love this book with all my heart.)

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