I'm having a hard time thinking of a jumping off point to start this review. I've been spoiled by books and movies before with how they heavily borrow concepts and details from each other that it's become routinary for me to pick a plot point, connect it to a vivid memory of a scene from another book/TV show/film I've seen and go from there. With The Raven Cycle I'm drawing a blank. I don't think I've read or seen anything like it, which stymies me in making a safe bet on who would enjoy this series. After reading The Raven Boys I was resolute that Maggie Stiefvater's storytelling isn't for everybody.
After experiencing The Dream Thieves, I am now a firm believer that it should be.
All of us have secrets in our lives. We're keepers or kept-from, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches - that's what will be left at the end of it all.
Ronan Lynch lived with every sort of secret.
The thing I liked most about Stiefvater's writing in this second waltz is that I get the impression that she has a pretty clear picture of who she's writing for. She's writing for readers who are patient: in the mysteries as they get solved, in the characters as she unfolds their depths and hearts and in the world as she molds it around her audience. Not in front of them but around them. Gansey, Blue, Ronan, Adam and Noah are not characters meant to be witnessed, they are avatars of your emotions: of your hopes, your fears, your dreams, your celebrations and your frustrations meant to be experienced.
She's writing for readers who likes to go in adventures without maps, discover secrets from the perspective of the eavesdropper. She likes to tell without telling. She likes to get long and winded and detailed and tedious but the payoff makes it all worth it. Like the preview to the next Marvel movie at the end of the credits.
This was more about Ronan and his dreams, about Adam and the bargain he made with Cabeswater, Gansey and his search for Glendower reaching fever pitch with the opening of the ley lines. All of which makes me wary mixing with Stiefvater's prose in the beginning because I pretty much assumed its like that scene in Requiem for A Dream being narrated in a slow as molasses pace or giving you a step by step account of an acid experience.
It should have been done by now, the punch, but he seemed to be trapped inside it. He was the boy, the blow, the counter, the flaring anger that drove it all.
With a shake of its horns, the unharmed devil had presented its genitalia to Niall Lynch before bounding off. It was an image that had yet to leave Ronan.
"Scio quid estis vow." He put the tattoo in his mouth and swallowed it.
Which gave this a more brutal, grittier, dirtier, and yes even erotic feel than The Raven Boys and that should be a good enough basket to put all your eggs in. But then she also gives you that scene with Noah, and that scene with Gansey and that scene with Maura. All of which made me feel new feels (okay I think I may have a shadow of a memory of Clara from Unearthly and her mom in that scene with Maura) and then you look back and I realize they all involved that rare character that I was previously unimpressed with but snuck up to me like a wrecking ball in this one. Love really is never always at first sight.
"I don't want to be just someone to kiss. I want to be a real friend, too. Not just someone who's fun to run around because - because I have breasts!"
Finally, FINALLY I understand why Gansey's attracted to Jane like a heart attack. She literally broke my heart so very often here, in her thoughts, in her longings… I think I'm in lesbians with her a little.
"Right, sure. Because there's no girls in politics! I have no interest. Voting? What? I forgot my apron. I think I ought to be in the kitchen right now, actually. My rolling pin - "
Okay maybe a lot. In truth, I'm a bit preemptively heartbroken that this is YA and there will probably be no funny, awkward Gansey-Blue sexytimes in the foreseeable future's pages because I don't think I've ever wanted to see a YA couple go to Pound Town aboard the Fuck Truck with all the forbidden and frustrated chemistry going on between these two. (I can practically picture Gansey going all flummoxed over that one, heh.)
It seems like I wrote a review for two different books but these fragments were woven so seamlessly this time, the magic and the reality meshed beautifully. The pacing was much much improved from the last book and the 300 Fox Way ladies continues to be awesome. Stiefvater can get literary fiction on your ass if she wants to but her dialogue is the shit.
"I couldn't believe when you called. When I saw your phone number, I nearly shit myself! You culled sell your phone, like as a new-in-box."
"Don't fucking swear," Ronan said.
If I was a YA/PNR-UF writer I'd probably be pretty scared of reading this book, the way I would be scared of Marchetta. Because reading a Stiefvater, I'd find, would just make me want to crawl back in my bed and do nothing. Maybe cook a lot of brownies. Or reorganize my CD collection in alphabetical order of the sound engineers' last name.