Friday, 28 July 2017

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

I read the first book in this series right around the time my mother died, and so it was one of the three or four book reviews that just never got written. It was a pity, as I had things I wanted to say, like that I enjoyed it, but that the pacing felt strange. The start of the book had led me to expect a specific arc, and by the end of the book, a much smaller arc was all that got resolved, and it became apparent that the thing I was expecting would be the end of the series. It wasn't well telegraphed as the "season-long" arc instead of the individual book plot, was my point, and I was a bit irritated. Not enough to not have enjoyed the first book, on a mostly superficial level, but enough that it stuck with me even though I never put words to the page and reviewed it.

Now we're on to the second book, and the other niggling things that bothered me - the problems of the rich prep school boys, the reemergence of the trope of the one girl/woman in a group being enough - have mostly resolved, and I have to say, I quite enjoyed The Dream Thieves. Make no mistake - it's YA, and it's not that deep. But it's fun.

Anything to do with the school has receded into the background, although the financial concerns of one character are still very much on the table. And there are many more female characters who take a larger role - but instead of being Blue's peers, they're her mother and aunts and family friends and cousin. They were all present in the last book, but they're becoming much stronger characters in their own rights, with their own stories, and I'm kind of digging that multi-generational dynamic.

Oh, right. What's the story? Well, Richard Gansey III, the rich and privileged and insanely well-read and educated scion of a wealthy family, is looking for the lost resting place of a Welsh king, who seems to be something like an Arthur figure. He's been tracing ley lines and scraps of mystery. That led him to Henrietta, a small town with a prestigious school.

In the first book, we learned that he's going to die within a year, and that's the storyline I was expecting to play out by the end of the first book. Instead, I'm figuring it'll be somewhere in the fourth book, given the titles of the others. It seems that each of the main characters is given a book in which, in and amongst all the doings of the other cast members, they discover who they are in the mythological scheme of things.So yeah, now that I've seen the pattern, it's probably a bit predictable, but it's done well enough that it is enjoyable nonetheless. Sometimes things unfolding deftly as they should can be very satisfying.

In this one, Ronan, the most out of control of Gansey's crew, is discovering who he is and what he can do (after Adam, the poor kid, took on certain attributes at the end of last book). He goes into dreams, and sometimes he brings things out, and sometimes things follow him out. Or hurt him in the dream, with wounds that carry over to the real world. His father may have had some of the same powers. So does a classmate. Are his powers any different? Controllable? And what about his mother, who has stayed on the family farm he's not allowed to visit since his father's death?

Again, none of the answers were really surprising, but nonetheless enjoyable. There's real skill in drawing characters you care about, and a good grasp of complexity. The characters are really the reason to read these books, and the plot tugs them along quite satisfactorily.

No comments:

Post a Comment