Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…
As a novel in its own right, The Dream Thieves was pretty good. As a sequel, it was a disappointment. It felt more like an alternate version of the first book than a true sequel. All the character development got reset, entirely new concepts and people were introduced and became the focus, and stuff from the previous book had very little in the way of repercussions. A few major themes from the first book got straight-up repeated (“the ley line needs to be fixed” is not that different from “the ley line needs to wake up.”)
On the other hand, I did like this book by itself. The plot felt a lot more cohesive and focused than the first, although the writing style still gave it that dreamy, unfocused atmosphere. The author didn’t have to reintroduce all the characters, so we got to skip the chapters and chapters and chapters worth of description and backstory; that helped a lot.
I loved the concepts in this book, the creativity that the author displayed in playing with them. I also loved the low-key feel of it all. This is fantasy, but it’s a very calm fantasy, there’s very little flash-and-bang. The magic is restricted to a few magical things, and it’s treated like something real, like something that may be fantastical but that can still be played with and measured and explored. It was a very practical approach to the fantasy aspect, while still being enormously inventive, and I just love that combination.
That said, the plot did drag on quite a bit. I’m still not a fan of the writing style in this. It’s got too much fluff, too many repeated lines, too much extraneous information. This book never met a tangent it didn’t like, and it uses the same tone on everything, whether it’s a tense moment or an everyday moment. Between all the extra chapters and the lack of variance, this book felt less like a ride and more like a straight highway that goes on forever.
A few more random notes: There was very little Blue in this book, and when she did show up, she wasn’t memorable. She went from a character in her own right in the first book, to a tertiary character in this book.
The Dream Thieves is very Ronan-centric, and Adam gets some spotlight, but Gainsy and Noah might as well not even be there.
Much like the last book, while there are plenty of funny and haunting lines, there’s also a ton that are just…well…
“She made a neat rack of teeth at the Grey Man.” (48%)
If you say so.
There’s a character that does some heavy drug use, and while he is a bad guy, there are no physical consequences show. He does a line of coke, then the scene moves on like nothing’s changed. Casual drugs use is a pet peeve of mine; I feel like if you’re going to write that in, you should at least have the authorial gonads to really show it.
Another pet peeve is that a character uses “feminist” as an insult, and it came right after Blue delivered an extremely feminist-positive argument. But the message she gave gets undercut by the line “wow, you are a raging feminist,” especially since there’s no counterargument and Blue more or less folds after he says it. I know teenagers aren’t always well informed on feminism, but that doesn’t mean we adults have to reinforce the idea that speaking up like Blue did is somehow worthy of being insulted.
So, on the whole, it was a very interesting book, with a lot of really good stuff in it, and only a few things that hit my buttons. I’d still recommend it.
Grade: 4 out of 5