Blue didn’t mean to fall for the Raven Boys, but she has – and the more her life entwines with theirs, the more dangerous it becomes.
Ronan is the most dangerous of all. He’s the haunted one, the darkest, the mot raven. His dreams invade reality and confuse what is true.
With magic growing stronger around them, now is a time to be wary. Before everything unravels… Friendships will be tested. Someone will get hurt. And a kiss will be shared.
I am pretty much ready to say – commitment issues and all – that I love Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series. The Dream Thieves avoided all the pitfalls common to second books. Part of the reason I so rarely read series is because of the difficulty I have in getting through the second book. While the first is all set up the second so often feels like a stop gap, an extended writing exercise usually designed to help a character have a realisation they really didn’t need 200 pages to reach. Not The Dream Thieves. While, yes, this sequel was certainly less plot heavy than its predecessor, the character development that took place was vital.
To be completely honest, I could probably read a book in which nothing happened but these characters sat in a circle talking to each other. I love them THAT much. I love them because they are awkward and imperfect and because they make resentment-driven decisions that feel painfully real to me. I spent a lot of my review of The Raven Boys discussing this, so I won’t get to far into it again, but Stiefvater’s approach to the tension inherent in friendships in which people come from massively different economic backgrounds is so perfectly approached. I have spent a lot of my life being friends with people who come from families who have a lot more money than my own and dealing with that shit is tricky, especially when you’re young and confronting the reality of people who have more for the first time. And – I see now that I am a (sort of) grown up who (sometimes) doesn’t perceive everything as a personal attack, that it’s the same the other way around. It’s awkward for the rich kids too. One time, in the early days of university a friend of mine told me I should have applied to Oxford or Cambridge because I would probably have got in on the quotas. Yeah. At the time, I was upset by it (now, not so much because that story kills among my poor friends), but a few years on I see she didn’t mean to offend me. I think it just honestly didn’t occur to her that she would.
Grown up life lesson #1: intention is important. Don’t discount it just because it’s easier to be offended than loving toward someone different from you.
I just wanted to use this review to say my own little thank you to Maggie for so empathetically writing about an issue that has at times been as raw and consuming in my life as it is for Adam in the series.
And with that ends the ‘personal sharing’ section of this review.
I saw video on Facebook a while back where two little girls are running around, and then one of the little girls clubs the other one in the face with a doll and she goes flying. The mingled emotions of horror, frustration – why is someone just filming this?! Why don’t they intervene?!?! – sympathy and regret I felt when watching this video is similar to the range of emotions that come with getting to know the Lynch brothers. If there were an award for Most Dysfunctional Family they would have as many as Meryl Streep has Oscars.
Stiefvater masterfully ties these people into emotional knots they can’t untangle. While much of the first book was dedicated to Adam and his origin story of poverty and abuse, this sequel was all about Ronan’s struggle with grief, depression and his sexuality. The relationship between Ronan and Kavinsky brought to mind the sexual tension between Sherlock and Moriarty back in season 2 of Sherlock. They both viewed themselves as the sole occupants of a lone island, and for Ronan it took getting wrapped up in a person so completely untethered to realise he wasn’t as separate from the mainland as he’d always supposed. No matter his foundational feelings of loneliness and despair he has friends – Gansey, Adam, even Blue – people who care for him, and the fact of them is what stops him, and I hope will continue to stop him from the complete self-destruction we saw end Kavinsky. Kavinsky was a theoretical future for Ronan, one where he doesn’t have his tethers, the people who love him. I’ll be really interested to see the ripple effects of that and how they affect Ronan’s character development as the series progresses.
In much the same way as she treats the financial tensions – delicately, and with empathy – Stiefvater tells us everything we need to know about Ronan without shoving it down our throats. She uses a mix of big events like the drag race and subtler moments, like when Kavinsky gives Ronan the bracelets to build a complicated, sexually charged atmosphere between these two boys that they explore through dreaming together.
This is, as ever, getting far too long, so I’ll sum up by adding that I thought the Gray Man was such a wonderful addition, and I 100% got my wish of spending more time with the rest of Blue’s family. I am totally ready to move into Fox Way. Gansey and Blue are adorable, and Adam and Blue were… painful, and I imagine will only become more so in Blue Lily, Lily Blue.
This series is smart, entertaining, whimsical and knows how to worm its way right into your heart. Despite my extensive TBR pile, I’m going to be reading the next one as soon as I can.