I want to hug Renay over and over for giving me the final nudge to start reading The Raven Cycle. The amazing, stunning, brilliant Raven Cycle! The Raven Boys was surprising in many ways. Instead of the average YA fantasy romance (love triangle optional), I got a wonderful portrait of a group of boys and a girl who are so multi-layered I didn’t know who to love best. And guess what: The sequel was even better!
Published by: Scholastic, 2013
Ebook: 439 pages
Series: The Raven Cycle #2
My rating: 9/10
First sentence: A secret is a strange thing.
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…
If the first book belonged to Gansey, Adam, and Blue, this one is clearly Ronan’s. He may, so far, not have been the most likable Raven Boy, but he sure is the most interesting. Now it turns out he can take objects – even living ones – out of his dreams. His pet raven Chainsaw is the living example. That premise, in and of itself, would have been enough to keep me entertained, but Maggie Stiefvater doesn’t leave it at that. She threw in a few twists that made me gasp in surprise. This is not where I expected the story to go. Secrets are revealed and the group has to deal with the consequences of what they’ve done. Of what their parents have done…
Ronan is front and center of The Dream Thieves and I just loved learning more about his past, about his parents and siblings, about who he is – and why. But the other Raven Boys and Blue go through a fair share of character development themselves. Adam and Blue’s relationship, tender and strange, goes on a roller coaster ride when Blue discovers things about herself and grows up just a little bit more. Even Noah, the “smudgy one”, isn’t forgotten. These characters were already vibrant but now they are virtually glowing with life. I still can’t get enough of them. New characters are also introduced and while at first it seems they are there simply to make things more interesting (and more difficult for our protagonists), they also are well fleshed out and have a life of their own. Both Kavinsky and the Grey Man grew on me, in a strange and slightly uncomfortable way. Again, they may not be likable or even redeemable characters, but they are so damn well written!
The search for Glendower continues, of course, but just like in the first book, it’s not the focus of the novel. It may be a driving force for the characters but, honestly, I don’t much care when they find that Welsh king or if they do at all, just so long as I can spend some more time with them. Blue’s family makes a few appearances that stand in crass contrast to Ronan’s family life, for example. There is romance and heart-break, there are moments shared between siblings, there is a spectacular gesture from one Raven Boy to another that almost made me tear up. It goes to show that each Raven Boy shows affection in a different way. The scene between Noah and Blue, the numerous scenes in which Ronan reveals something about himself, that one scene between Blue and Gansey… this is where my brain refuses to spit out words and just goes into full gush mode.
The writing continues to amaze me. I don’t believe I have ever read such a complex, thought-provoking and riveting YA novel. It explores class difference and broken families, the dynamic between a set of very different people with very different goals, and falling in love for the first time. Add to that a healthy dose of beautiful imagery and symbols and – boom – you’ve got a book that I simply can’t find fault with.
The only reason I’m not halfway through Blue Lily, Lily Blue yet is that I have to get over The Dream Thieves first. These books reverberate, they stay with you, they’re not meant for quick consumption. They are the kind of books that give you hangovers from too much emotion. And I look forward with terror in my heart to the moment I’ll have caught up with the latest book and have to wait for the next instalment to come out.
I wonder how much longer until the Hugo Awards finally add a YA section so I can throw all my votes at Maggie Stiefvater. This is a serious concern because these books totally deserve award recognition and, as we all know, YA doesn’t really do well unless it gets its own category (that’s why I love the Andre Norton award). I’ll keep my fingers crossed and read everything the woman has written until then.
RATING: 9/10 – Close to perfection.