19 March 2015

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The more I think about Maggie Stiefvater’s THE RAVEN BOYS, the more amazing it seems to me. It’s so full of mood, of setting, of voice.

THE DREAM THIEVES is no different: an immersive experience, intense and haunting.

At its heart, THE DREAM THIEVES is Ronan’s story. At the end of THE RAVEN BOYS, he revealed to his friends that he could manifest his dreams. THE DREAM THIEVES opens with an examination of secrets: the kind of secrets one person keeps from another, the kind of secrets one person keeps from him- or herself, and the kind of secrets that no one knows about because they’ve been long buried.

Ronan lives with each type of secret, and sharp readers will quickly figure out what secret he’s hiding from himself (more about that at the end, after the spoiler warning).

Meanwhile, Gansey’s quest for Glendower continues. Adam, having given himself to Cabeswater, as its eyes and ears, has to learn what that truly means, and the growing pains are not easy. He’s still hurting from his abusive parents and loveless home life, and with the stress of Cabeswater pressing at his mind added to it, he’s a bomb ready to go off. And he does, more than once, lashing out much like Ronan.

Ronan, for his part, struggles to understand his gift, and the mystery left behind by his father - who shared the same gift - of being banished from his home. He finds aid from the unlikeliest - and most unsavory - of places.

Blue is still determined not to kiss anyone or fall in love. It makes her relationship with Adam, and with Gansey, complicated. Once more, sharp readers will have already seen the writing on the wall on this front. It’s basically set up in the first chapters of the first book, but the fun is in the journey, after all. Well, I say fun. Heartbreak, more like.

Then there’s Mr. Gray, the hitman, who makes his entrance beating the crap out of Ronan’s brother, looking for the Greywaren - a device his employer believes will allow its user to manifest dreams. Clearly, this employer is misinformed. Mr. Gray is complicated, morally ambiguous, but has enough of a heart to feel drawn to Blue’s mother, Maura.

So many threads. So many plots, I can’t do it all justice. What can I say? The book totally absorbed me. The voice only grew in potency. I was exhilarated and terrified for Blue and her Raven Boys, for Maura and Mr. Gray, for the secrets that Ronan was keeping to come to the fore.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, SO STOP READING HERE IF YOU WISH TO AVOID THEM.




It was obvious to me, very quickly, that Ronan was gay. I didn’t really get any of that from the first book, but it didn’t focus on Ronan that much, and all we saw was the anger. But from the outset I got this inkling, and though the text never slapped me in the face with it, it was quite obvious where things were headed.

What was harder to pin down was where Ronan’s attractions lie, and we didn’t get it until the final chapter, where Stiefvater tells us: Adam Parrish was Ronan’s second secret.

Which explains so much, most especially why Ronan went so ballistic on Adam’s father.

Writing this after having read BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE as well, it’s clear that I understood the subtle hints correctly. A bit of research, though - I was looking up some of the untranslated Latin phrases - revealed some people were, at least before the release of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE, in denial about the whole thing.

Some of what I read reminded me of the “delusional” HARRY POTTER fans who were convinced Harry and Hermione were going to end up together. Or the blatantly offensive fans who didn’t get that Rue in THE HUNGER GAMES was black, and decided it was “less sad” when she died in the movie because she was a black girl.

(Don’t get me started on that.)

Clearly, after the fact, it’s clear what Stiefvater intended. Her nuanced, careful layering of thought and action, text and subtext, was one of the greatest reveals I’ve ever read, and one of the most delightful knots to untangle in any book ever.

I’m a sap for happy endings, so of course I’m hoping for some happiness for Ronan, wherever his heart takes him, but I have a feeling he’s going to have to go through a lot more heartbreak before he gets there.

I was happy to go along for the ride in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE (but I will avoid saying anything else about it here), and I can’t wait for the fourth, supposedly final book, to be released this October. Thankfully I came to this series late enough to not have a long wait!