The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves - Maggie Stiefvater

Ignore those measly three stars up there, because in all honesty, I did like this book. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. I just . . . don't think it deserves more than three stars, okay? I'm trying to be objective because the quality of the book doesn't match my enjoyment of it.

 

Quality Rating: 3

 

Enjoyment Rating: 7.5

 

I took absolutely tons of notes, because some things I adored and some things I hated, so here we go with another overlong, rambling, opinionated review. And it might not seem like it at first, but there actually will be some positive stuff in this one. I promise!

 

Overall, I did like this book. The characters were completely awesome - I count it as a mark of just how awesome the characters are, that they can be stuck in the mire of Stiefvater's horrible writing and still be so . . . . um, well, this will be my third time using the word this paragraph, but . . . awesome. Seriously, I love the entire gang to pieces. Blue is great, she has personality and attitude and best of all, she's actually a helpful, fairly intelligent friend friend character and not just the token doormat romantic interest heroine that most YA books sport these days.

 

I mean really. Blue has a life, and a family that actually matters to her even when she has a boyfriend and a crowd she hangs with. She has a job and one heck of a personality, and I love her for it. She's not petty or whiny beyond what you'd expect from someone in her situation - in fact, I think most people in her situation would whine a lot more than she did. I love Blue, okay? Especially in Chapter 49. Just trust me on this - Blue would smack people like Luce Price and Bella Swan and Nora Grey on the head with their own books and then stab them with knitting needles or something. (But it's not like she's violent, either. She isn't. She just has attitude, is all, and she'd have no patience for wishy-washy, stalkerish, sappy, brainless trip-over-everything-so-the-guy-can-catch-you heroines.)

 

Ronan used to be my favorite - he's not really anymore, but I think that's just because he got the worst of Stiefvater's writing in this book. I still adore him. I'm actually not a fan of his new powers because they kind of came out of nowhere and suddenly they were all I got to read about (when I was more interested in Glendower and Adam and the ley line), but hey, they didn't ruin his character or anything so I'm fine with it. As long as he stays Ronan, I'll always love the guy.

 

Adam also used to be my favorite, way back when. Poor dear. I still love him to pieces. I think he really needs to be snuggled, and I wish someone would snuggle him.

 

 

 

Like that. But anyway, he was really messed up in this book and it kind of makes me angry, because there's really no reason why he should always be the outsider. I love Gansey (and Ronan) so much for trying so hard to take care of him. In short: Adam is a moron and I love him for it.

 

Gansey's never been my favorite. It's not that I don't like him - I do, a lot - but I just have more problems with him than the others, I think. He's too perfect. I mean yeah, he can be stupid, but he's got his magic charisma thing, he's sweet and helpful and brave and forgiving and generous, etc. Not to mention the token good looks and infinite money, and the fact that I'm dismally sure he's going to end up with Blue at the end. I love Gansey, really, he's funny and eccentric and he's a good character all in all, but I just love the others a little bit more. They're more flawed than he is, and I appreciate that.

 

Noah is my current baby. He's adorable, like a big puppy, and I love his friendships with Blue and Ronan especially. I wish he was around more in these books, but the poor darling always seems to be the one that the story neglects or leaves out. But either way, he's my favorite. I'll just keep hoping that he comes around more in the future.

 

The other characters are okay. After reading Cast in Sorrow I think I'm a little sensitive to title names like "The Gray Man", so I unfortunately wanted to throw the book across the room every time he appeared. But he wasn't a bad character or anything, I just hated his title. Oh, and he and Maura are fine, because Blue's fixation with her dad is irritating to me - the guy's been gone for how many years, and she still thinks he'll come back? - and their relationship also has the pleasant side-effect of being a slap in the face to Clary Fray. So yay, thumbs up for both Mr. G and Maura, because they're both good characters who aren't teenagers - something the YA genre is sorely lacking.

 

A few things about this book did bother me, though. The plot was a little weak. After the first book I expected things to start picking up, but actually they . . . . kind of . . . . slowed . . . . down. I mean, the main plot for the series is Glendower, right? How come this is the second book where the main thread of the story and the climax both came from side-plots?

 

At one point, Gansey calls Blue, and she's surprised when she hears his voice on the other end of the line. Doesn't she have caller ID? Wouldn't she have known it was him before she picked up?

 

It was mentioned once that Calla wasn't the thinnest woman in the world, and it was stated like it was a bad thing - but then the narration praised her stomach muscles, which seemed like it was supposed to make up for her few extra pounds.

 

This makes me angry. I won't get into a rant or anything here because this is a book review, but really it shouldn't matter if Calla weighs a little more than a supermodel. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because she's a character in a book and I don't judge characters by their appearance, and it wouldn't matter if I met her in real life because her appearance has no bearing on her personality. If she was a horrible person I'd hate her no matter what she looked like, and if she was a great person I'd love her no matter what she looked like, okay? This goes for all people in the real world and the literary ones. I can't believe this book just had to make one snide little comment about a person's weight, like it was supposed to adjust my opinion of her.

 

But anyway, moving on. I'm wondering, there was a scene where Noah was re-enacting his own death - didn't he ever do that before, in all the years Gansey and the crew have known him?

 

Obviously not; if he had, they would've known he was a ghost. So why did he suddenly start doing it in this book? It made no sense.

 

Speaking of making no sense . . . . Let me explain some important stuff. (And this is where the review spirals down into less of an overview and more of an example-fest.) I hate Stiefvater's writing. I hate it. Half the time she writes with these short, repetitive, choppy little sentences that feel painfully flat, and the other half the time she rambles on with too many similies and descriptions that she thinks are poetic, when really? They just don't make sense. And that's all they do, is sit there looking stupid and not making sense. Honestly, sometimes I was embarrassed for Stiefvater because the writing was so idiotically senseless.

 

I'll give you some examples of how her writing doesn't make sense, all right?

 

The inside of the old Camaro smelled like asphalt and desire, gasoline and dreams.

 

Dreams don't smell like anything. That's why they're dreams. You might think they smell like something when you're in one, but in reality they smell like nothing. Which makes that description nothing but a dumb, confusing piece of what I think was supposed to be poetry. All those candles out there that supposedly smell like dreams? Yeah - they all smell different.

 

And while I'm at it, let me point out that if I'm having a dream about the house burning down, I'll be "smelling" smoke. If I'm having a dream about baking cookies, I'll be "smelling" freshly baked cookies. In reality I'm not smelling anything at all, but even if Stiefvater's dream smell was real, what the heck is the dream that the Camaro supposedly smells like? Cookies or smoke, or something else? Hmm?

 

No answer? And that's why it doesn't make sense.

 

I didn't even say anything about it smelling like desire, by the way, because obviously desire doesn't have a scent. It's an emotion, and I'm pretty sure emotions don't smell.

 

He wore a white tank, and his exposed shoulder was raw and beautiful as a corpse.

 

Um, ew? I sure hope Stiefvater didn't mean to say that his skin is actually worm-eaten and grey, and . . . . beautiful? What? Was she trying to say that his shoulder was beautiful, or that it wasn't? I don't even know.

 

The traffic light overhead was red as a warning.

 

That's because it is a warning, brainiac. That's the whole point of a traffic light, you know?

 

Good grief, if Ronan doesn't know that . . . I guess they really will let anyone drive these days.

 

"I said," Ronan said, and now he grabbed Gansey's shoulders, both of them, and shook him theatrically.....

 

No, I thought maybe Ronan "grabbed Gansey's shoulders" and it meant just one of them.

 

Another thing I have with Stiefvater's writing is her use of scents. Usually she does scents really, really well, okay? Usually I love her descriptions of the way things and places smell, although I do think she points them out too often. (I mean, I've known that Gansey smells like mint since the first book. I don't need to be reminded of it seventy times in the second one.)

 

But sometimes Stiefvater's stupid nonsense poetry overcomes her talent for writing scents, and I get stuff like this:

 

With the doors shut, the room smelled like roses after dark and a match just blown out.

 

Uh-huh, sure it did. Roses smell the same after dark as they do in sunlight, electric light or firelight, Stiefvater. They don't suddenly start to smell like new paper or bakeries or lilies or something silly like that. Stop trying to impress me with this nonsense and just write already - I have a feeling I might actually enjoy your writing if you did that.

 

"Like myself," Gansey agreed grandly, and she laughed delightedly. "A creature of simple delights."

 

Ah, I love Gansey, but seriously, if Stiefvater wanted him to use the word "delights" then she shouldn't have used the word "delightedly" immediately before it.

 

A handsome devil with one eye the color of a promise and the other the color of a secret.

 

Wait! What? My first thought on reading this sentence was, "Ugh, not again. Stop it, Stiefvater! Promises and secrets don't have a color! Unless, you know, that stuffed bunny you got for your daughter's birthday was pink and that's the secret you're talking about . . . in which case he has one pink eye? But what about that promise-colored-eye . . . . say, an engagement ring? So he has one pink eye and one gold eye? But then what if the bunny was green or orange? One gold eye and one green-or-orange eye? . . . . My head hurts."

 

My second thought was, "Wait, does he actually have two differently colored eyes? Or is the book just spouting nonsense again and both of his eyes are brown?"

 

My third, inevitable thought was: "If his eyes are two different colors, then . . ."

 

 

(Hello, Vincent darling.  No, really, I wasn't just begging for an excuse to put you in this review. Honestly. This is a true story. . . . . You don't believe me? . . . . *cries*) 

 

Moving on now, I promise.

 

The smudgy, inked art looked like thoughts instead of images.

 

Um. What? Actually, since you can clearly see that they're images put down on paper, I'd say they look rather a lot like images. And since you can't see thoughts - you know, on account of thoughts not being visible to the naked eye - I'd say they probably don't look much like thoughts at all.

 

The Gray Man knelt and pressed the barrel of the gun to Declan's stomach, which rose and fell calamitously as he gasped for air.

 

 

Just . . . really? Calamitously was the only word you could think of to describe a person gasping for air? That's not inspired or poetic, it's just silly. Someone needs to give you a dictionary, Stiefvater.

 

As Ronan spoke, Gansey's eyes were half-closed, turned toward the night.

 

It's the middle of the night, buddy. The night is literally everywhere. So....which way was Gansey facing again?

 

Blue Sargent was pretty in a way that was physically painful to him. He was attracted to her like a heart attack.

 

What was that, Adam dear? A heart attack, you say? You're attracted to heart attacks? I'm sorry. You aren't making sense.

 

And here are two pretty big paragraphs to end my complaining rant - or this section of it, anyway.

 

A curious thing happened when the bottle left Ronan's hand. As it arced through the air, trails of fire-orange in its wake, Ronan felt as if he had hurled his heart. There was a rip, just as he released it. And heat filling his body, pouring in through the hole he'd made. But now he could breathe, now that there was room in his suddenly light chest. The past was something that had happened to another version of himself, a version that could be lit and hurled away.

 

Wow. What the heck was that paragraph doing in the book? It doesn't mean anything - what I think Stiefvater meant to say was, "Ronan threw the bottle." But instead we get that - that - whatever the heck it was. Ugh.

 

In his bed, he struggled to move. Just after waking, after dreaming, his body belonged to no one. He looked at it from above, like a mourner at a funeral. The exterior of this early-morning Ronan didn't look at all like how he felt on the inside. Anything that didn't impale itself on the sharp line of this sleeping boy's cruel mouth would be tangled in by the merciless hooks on his tattoo, pulled beneath his skin to drown.

 

 

Ooookay then. That's officially the most idiotic paragraph I've read since I tried to survive The Instrumentalities of the Night. I don't even know what to say about it.

 

And one final complaint - I don't know how many times the word "hurled" was used in this book, but it was way too many. I must've seen it a hundred times at least. Stiefvater uses that word for everything. If someone tosses something across a room (which they do a lot) then they hurl it across the room. If someone imagines something, then they hurl themselves into the imagining. If someone falls asleep, they hurl into sleep. If someone moves fast, they hurl themselves forward. If someone tackles someone else, they hurl themselves at the person they're tackling.

 

STOP IT WITH THE HURLING. 

 

And I got so tired of hearing about people's accents. I get it, Adam has an accent sometimes. People in Henrietta have an accent. Wow, cool. But once that's been established in the first five pages of the book, shut up about it, okay? I can remember the facts you've told me. Stop beating me over the head with them.

 

But now that I've sufficiently proven my disgust for Stiefvater's writing, I'd like to explain part of why I actually enjoyed this book.

 

 

 

Let me show you the kind of writing that I do like, those tiny little perfect sentences/phrases that I want to rescue from the rest of this book's horribly purple nonsense.

 

As they walked, a sudden rush of wind hurled low across the grass, bringing with it the scent of moving water and rocks hidden in shadows.

 

See? That entire sentence makes sense, it's beautiful, and it proves that Stiefvater could write well if she'd just tell her brain to intercept and examine the words she's putting on paper - before they get to paper. I don't even care that she used the word "hurled" in it. . . . Well, okay, I don't care much.

 

"You be careful, Adam Parrish. 'Cause one day you might get what you ask for. There might be girls in Henrietta who'll let you talk to them like that, but I'm not one of them. Now I'm going to go sit on those stairs out there until my shift. If you can be - be human before then, come get me. If not, I'll see you later."

 

This is why I love Blue. And why Stiefvater's other book, Lament, sickens me even more now than it did before. If Stiefvater had an awesome character like Blue floating around in her head, why did I have to suffer through that misogynistic, slimy thing that was Lament?

 

But this review isn't for that book, so I'll shut up about that. Anyway, I love Blue. Especially in Chapter 49 - did I say that I love Blue in Chapter 49? Because I do. A lot.

 

Maura shook her head. After a moment, a voicemail buzzed through. "That we'll listen to, though. Uh. Blue? Make it work?"

 

That scene was hilarious - the fact that poor, long-suffering, tolerant Blue is the only one who can operate the phone is just so funny and adorable. I loved it.

 

The air was thick with the scent of boxwood, gardenias, and Chinese food.

 

Here she proves again that she's good with scents, when she uses real scents to describe things.

 

He could feel his synapses murdering one another.

 

That is one of my new favorite quotes. I've been there - especially when I'm reading bad books or Stiefvater's purple nonsense. Please write like this more often, Stiefvater! I'm begging you!

 

She assassinated a mosquito on her calf and then eyed the glass in Maura's hand.

 

Perfection.

 

Letting out a huge breath, Gansey closed his eyes and let the steering wheel cook his face.

 

I've been there, too. Ow.

 

"You're being creepy," Blue said. "Maybe you mean to be, but in case you're just being accidentally creepy, I thought I'd let you know."

 

Ah, Blue. I wish more heroines were like you.

 

Ronan put a finger to his lips. A smile snaked out on either side of it.

 

Yay for Ronan and his evil smiles.

 

Even though he knew he couldn't save himself, he couldn't ever seem to convince himself to stop fighting.

 

See that? I love that. And it's so simple - there's nothing purple about it.

 

Okay, okay, I'll finally shut up, I promise. Overall, Dream Thieves was a good book. It was fairly interesting, although in an I-wish-the-camera-would-show-me-some-more-urgent-stuff kind of way. I liked the sense of humor in it (bloody puffins) - and best of all, I adore the characters. Honestly, the characters are the only reason I read these books, and they're worth it. The plot is okay, but . . . oh look, characters!

 

Hm. I'd love to give this book a four-star rating, but because of Stiefvater's writing, I just can't. But either way, it's a good book and I don't regret reading it. I'll definitely be checking in for the next one.