The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), by Maggie Stiefvater
If I were a movie, what would I be rated? PG-13
Any spoilers in this review? Sadly, yes. Spoilers for book 1 and spoilers for book 2, because I ranted a lot. (And here’s a link to my review of book 1, if you’re interested.)
Summary: 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…
Aight. I have two complaints. I’m sure you’re all dying to hear them, so let us begin.
1. Blue. Blue, girl, you and I need to have words. I could get behind you in the first book, but this? This ruined it.
Listen to me very, very closely. I don’t care how much you want a normal life. I don’t care if you want a boyfriend. I don’t care if you want to kiss someone. The foundation of your life is that psychics can be real. Specifically, the ones who raised you and love you are bonafide psychics. And they tell you that the person you kiss will die. So you know what you don’t do? Kiss anyone. And you definitely don’t start dating someone—someone who believes in psychics and the supernatural—and not tell them that little detail.
It’s absolutely ridiculous. Is it fair that Blue has this particular prophecy/reading about her love life when all she wants is a boyfriend and to be kissed and to be normal? No. But guess what? She has a prophecy/reading about her love life that’s less than convenient but she has to deal anyway.
Because you do not date someone and not tell them that. You don’t risk their life like that. If it were someone more cavalier than Adam, the boy could’ve easily leaned in and given her a random smooch as the mood called for it. Yes, I believe in consent. But they’re dating. At some point they’d be comfortable enough it’ll seem natural to Adam to lean in and kiss her, right?
I have absolutely no pity for Blue after she completely shut down—angrily and dumbly, at that—Adam when he tried to bring it up.
Oh, and then you get to this scene on page 365 with Gansey:
Gansey turned to her, his eyes bright. He just nodded.
Why, she thought, agonized, couldn’t it have been Adam?
She said, “If you find out, will you tell me?”
He’s going to die, Blue, don’t—
“I don’t know if we’re meant to find out,” he said.
That… sounds terrible. Absolutely terrible. “Why couldn’t it have been Adam?” Like, what the utter heck, Blue? I know you’re in the throes of emotional teenage angst, but that’s horrible. Why couldn’t it have been Adam who’s going to die in X months? That solves nothing! You still can’t kiss Gansey because of your kiss of death!
1.5 Again, with Blue. Every time something comes up, she’s far too quick to get up in arms. And her conversation in the car with Gansey, sometime during the scene on top of the mountain overlooking the city, was just painful. Gansey kept having to add these disclaimers like “not that I’m saying—” and “I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant and you know it and” and honestly, Blue, just chill? Gansey’s not sexist. He’s just very awkward with his friends, let alone with you and your/his budding crush. I.e., he’s human. There are ways to gently correct if he’s obviously in the wrong. And he wasn’t trying to call you weak or trying to sound sexist. Honestly. I just… honestly.
A good example of her getting up in arms too quickly is the beginning of chapter 21. Blue says they should take Ronan to have a consultation with her family. Ronan said no. There’s some confusion. And then Blue “icily” says, “This is a religion thing, isn’t it?” And, ok, A) this is Ronan, so what did she expect? But B) Blue is utterly… horrible about it? Totally, overly, snarlingly defensive? Surely she’s met skeptics of psychics in her life. But of all the things to have a problem with, Ronan having a religion that doesn’t agree with her beliefs shouldn’t—like, if they actually want to hang out and/or be friends to a certain degree or even run in the same circles, Blue needs to loosen up and realize not everyone is going to believe her or her family. Discuss it like rational people if it’s such a big deal.
Religion is an especially touchy subject today. And I don’t like how Blue dealt with it, however brief the scene was.
2. Ronan and what happened with Gansey’s car. Now, you can argue until you’re blue (ha—see what I did there?) in the face that it’s just transit and it’s just a car and Gansey could get any other, but Ronan himself said several times that Gansey wanted his Pig. Not a different, fake car. His Pig. Setting aside whether or not Gansey should be that attached to his possession, it’s clearly something to matters to him.
So it absolutely boggles my mind why Ronan would be so careless and so… inconsiderate when it comes to Gansey’s Pig. Gansey who he loves, even if he doesn’t respect at all/in a noticeable way. The Pig is so much more than a car and yet Ronan wanted to street race with it and I just cannot fathom it. It’s one thing to want to race a particular car. It’s another if it’s Gansey’s Pig. Knowing how Gansey felt about the Pig should’ve neatly put the Pig “off the market” of street racing, as it were.
I have a friend whose car means a lot to them. Just like Gansey and his car. And my friend has made it pretty clear that they really appreciate having wheels and their own car and such. And I respect that. A lot. I love my friend. And because I know how much their car means to them, when I visited them, even if they had offered, I probably would’ve refused to drive it. I would’ve been so stressed about driving it I would probably get in the very wreck that I was worried I’d get in driving their car in the first place. And it’s not even getting in a wreck that would bug me so much as I ruined their car. After they hypothetically trusted me with something that matters to them.
Gansey didn’t let Ronan drive the Pig for pretty obvious reasons.
I just can’t fathom how little respect for Gansey that translates into? For the sake of plot, he crashed the Pig, but still. He literally dreamed keys, accidentally or not. He literally waited for Gansey to be out of town and without the Pig to go race it. When he knows how Gansey feels about the Pig and street racing in general.
Listen, if we’re going to have a misunderstand, woe-is-me, “heart of gold” bad boy character, at least give more proof that his heart, frankly, actually exists? I shouldn’t have to look for it. I don’t like how Ronan treats his friends. He’s cruel and harsh. He said something to Adam that made me furious, to the effect of “yeah, not all of us were born in hell though” and you just… don’t say that to someone from an abusive home? Whose dad you punched because you saw him beating Adam up?
I understand Ronan to a certain degree, but I certainly don’t agree with him on everything and I’m not sure I like the light Stiefvater is showing him in. It’s a bit too positive, if that makes sense. I’m still wary of Ronan and I could also really do without Stiefvater’s love affair with street racing sprinkled in.
I feel like people may say that he gets better in future books and there are examples of his good in said future books, but… I should be seeing his worth as a friend now. I shouldn’t have to wait for his heart of gold to manifest from his bad boy persona. Especially in a book centered on him and one that should give us a better idea of what’s in his head.
3. I’m disappointed with the plot. It kind of… stuttered and trickled along. And then the most random plot point of all was introduced. Kavinsky and his obsession with Ronan. And the dramatic “if you’re not with me, you’re against me.” And the kidnapping of Matthew. It all felt so forced and fake. Meanwhile, Adam’s got magic in him. An ancient and old magic that I want to know more about. I want to learn more about Cabeswater instead of this stalling Stiefvater does. I’m half tempted to say, out of pure cynicalness, that the plot stuttering is all about dragging out a series for more moolah. Honestly, I do like all the characters. They’re real and flawed. (Very, very flawed.) And they give me anxiety. But! Amazing character development—not romance! Character development! The romance sucked!—can only carry the book so far. There needs to be more Muchness to make a truly great book.
This one lacked its Muchness. The plot is very sketchy right now. Purely from an analytical angle, the Kavinsky-kidnaps-Ronan’s-brother-in-a-fit-of-jealous-rage plot felt very random. As if only to add some drama to the book and have a scene with nightmare creatures from dreams fighting in “real” life.
Overall, I enjoy Stiefvater’s writing and I enjoy the characters. They’re all flawed which, while it makes them more real, also frustrates me. I’m looking at you two, Blue and Ronan.
Three stars because of plot and the Blue/Ronan frustrations that I don’t feel were dealt with properly. I do hope the rest of the series picks up.
What some people might be uncomfortable reading about in this book because of personal opinion or belief: enough cursing to rate an R if it were a movie (thanks, Ronan); talk of kissing but nothing was ever too crude; hints of bisexuality/homosexuality on Kavinsky and Ronan’s part, which are enough that you should steer clear if that’s not your cup of tea; and there’s a hitman who, you know, kills people. YMMV.
Quotes I liked:
“I know you think you’re a punk,” Declan said, “but you aren’t nearly as badass as you think you are.” —93
By the time they had tamped the last pile of dirt over the hole, they were soaked with rain and sweat. There was something warming, Ronan thought, about all of them burying a body on his behalf. He would’ve preferred it to stay in his dreams, but if it had to slip out, this was better than the last out-of-control nightmare. —152
Gansey ran over the memory until he no longer felt the thrill of hearing Glendower’s name whispered in his ear and then instead gave himself over to feeling sorry for himself, that he should have so many friends and yet feel so alone. He felt it fell to him to comfort them, but never the other way around. —132