There are so many YA books flooding the market right now that good books for young adults can be difficult to find. How do you choose which book to bring to the cashier from all the colorful, tempting covers on the shelves? Well, let me get you in on a secret: Maggie Stiefvater.
Maggie Stiefvater is a magician with words and I adore her so much. Her writing style is lyrical, her characters solid and well-rounded, and her plots unique and engrossing. One great example of this is the second book in Maggie’s Raven Cycle series: The Dream Thieves.
The Raven Cycle follows Blue and four boys–Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah–from the prestigious Aglionby Academy in their search for the legendary King Glendower. Along the way, they wake up ley lines, take things out of dreams, and get into trouble in general. Oh, and by the way, Blue’s cursed with a prophecy: if she kisses her true love, he will die. Problem is, Gansey’s looking mighty fine right now…
So what’s so great about The Dream Thieves? What makes it to my list of good books for young adults? Before I count the ways, I’d like to note that although I try my best to avoid it, this post might still contain spoilers for book 1! So please tread carefully if you haven’t read The Raven Cycle yet and still want to proceed.
Her characters are well-rounded.
Not only that, they’re as realistic as they can get in a story where boys can bring dreams to life and entire forests can disappear in the blink of an eye. What I love about her is that she’s not afraid to add in flaws that could potentially make you hate a character. For example, Adam’s tendency to go violent on other people. Her teenagers feel like teenagers: Adam is insecure, Gansey wants to be liked by everyone, Ronan has issues he can only express through anger, Blue just wants to kiss someone. Kavinsky is the rich kid who got into drugs and fast cars, a type I could never like, but even then I found sympathy for him.
The thing is, though, Kavinsky and Ronan both grew up the same. They both had absentee (and/or dead) parents, but while Kavinsky chose to be a terrible person, Ronan didn’t. And I think what teared me up is that Kavinsky could have chosen otherwise, but he didn’t. And that is a life wasted.
Another thing I liked in particular about this book was how Gansey is slowly unraveled. In the first book, he still remained like an enigma: this person with a mild obsession in finding a dead king but still too high to touch. He was above us. But in this book, he gets ruffled, angry, and worried. He makes mistakes and judgement errors. He loses his temper. He becomes a person.
And I think I like how we get to know his character the way we get to know him, really know him, if he were real. It’s like discovering how to become friends with him the way the other Aglionby boys became friends with him.
That’s where this book’s magic lies: no matter the faults, the characters are sympathetic and even relatable at times. That doesn’t mean that their wrong decisions are excusable, but it does make them more human. And, maybe seeing the humanity in these flawed characters brings out the humanity in ourselves.
Her story is unique and captivating.
Henrietta is a place where ley lines are alive, where boys can communicate with mystical places, where nightmare creatures escape from dreams into reality. The Dream Thieves expands more on what The Raven Cycle briefly mentions at the end: Ronan’s ability to bring things from his dreams into the real world.
This is Ronan’s secret, among many other secrets he carries. But after the ley line’s awakening, it looks like trouble’s in the horizon. Because someone else is after Ronan’s abilities…
I can’t say much about the story without spoiling it, but I can give you some hints as to what to expect! There will be, a.) hitmen, b.) monsters and monster battles, and c.) lots of secrets exposed.
Oh, and as in any good books for young adults, there will also be a lot of crying. Especially if you’re like me, because:
Her prose makes me weep and worship her.
I cannot possibly do justice describing her prose, as my writing can’t even be compared to half of how beautiful hers is, so I’ll just leave you guys with a few choice quotes:
“There are three kinds of secrets. One is the sort everyone knows about, the sort you need at least two people for. One to keep it. One to never know. The second is a harder kind of secret: one you keep from yourself. Every day, thousands of confessions are kept from their would-be confessors, none of these people knowing that their never-admitted secrets all boil down to the same three words: I am afraid.
And then there is the third kind of secret, the most hidden kind. A secret no one knows about. Perhaps it was known once, but was taken to the grave. Or maybe it was a useless mystery, arcane and lonely, unfound because no one ever looked for it.”
“Every parting felt like it would be the last, and so every return was like a miracle.”
“In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys.”
And this one just made me laugh out loud (note: Maggie is also hilarious; check out her TED talk at the bottom of this review!):
“There was a heavy silence that sometimes happens when a hit man enters a room.”
If you’re like me and love a great story with realistic characters and wonderful writing, then do pick up this series! I’ve been enjoying this so far, definitely one of the good books for young adults that I’ve read. I’m looking forward to reading the next two installments!
My rating: (5 / 5)
>> Buy The Dream Thieves on Amazon <<
Bonus! Watch Maggie Stiefvater’s talk on How Bad Teens Become Famous People: