Raven Boys sequel dark, brooding thrill ride

The Dream Thieves (Book 2, The Raven Cycle) by Maggie Stiefvater; Scholastic Press, New York, 2013.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.   Expected publication date is September 17, 2013.

Continuing the quest for Glendower proves darker, more brooding and definitely more dangerous in book 2 of The Raven Cycle.  Ronan’s back story is featured in this installment, just as we learned more about Adam in book one.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more dangerous for Blue and her Raven Boys, more characters with very sinister designs are introduced.  Once again, the book concludes with a moment’s breather for the seekers but we all know it’s a temporary respite.

I am so glad that Blue’s family plays more interesting roles in this story.  I am also thrilled that the character development of the Raven Boys continues.  Blue seems more of a wallflower in this installment, but as the foil, more characters developed around her.  Richly developed characters are but one reason I love the first two books in the cycle.

The Dream Thieves is more sinister than book one.  Characters from the real world as well as the dream realm are heart-thumping scary.  And that’s a good thing.  While book one enchanted me, book two has drawn me further into the world of ley lines, psychics and meddling teenagers.

Without a doubt, Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle is one of my top series.  Since The Dream Thieves was so well-woven, I’ve no doubt the final two books in the series will continue to dazzle.  I half expect to see phantoms from the corner of my eye for the rest of my life!

The down side of reading pre-publication copies of books is that I have that much longer to wait for the next installment to hit my Kindle!
5P     5Q     Grade Level: 8+
The Dream ThievesCover art: Well, at first the cover perplexed me.  I didn’t like it.  But after reading about Ronan and his “gift,” I get it.  Will teens pick it up based on the cover?  Perhaps.  More likely they’ll select it because they’re anxious to learn more about The Raven Boys.

From Reading List: ARC (Advance Reading Copy), The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

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Forever is full of hope, faith, and loss

Forever (Book 3, Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy) by Maggie Stiefvater; published by Scholastic, New York, 2011; 390 pages.

So much has happened to Sam and Grace in such a short time.  In preceding books, Sam has been “cured” of turning into a wolf when the temperature drops, but Grace’s “curse” from childhood has her turning into a wolf.  With Beck now gone, Isabel and Cole are all Sam and Grace have.  Together, they need to find a way to make forever happen.  Forever a girl and a boy.  Forever a life together.  But Isabel’s father has other plans for the wolves of Mercy Falls.  Can they find a forever solution before it’s too late?  Will they find a promise of a future beyond what they’ve vowed to each other?

I was hooked on this series with book one.  The spare but powerful voice of Maggie Stiefvater paints vivid images without melodrama or extraneous distractions.  Every character, every encounter and every word carries the story to the conclusion.  Is this conclusion fans had hoped for?  Read it and judge for yourself.  For me, there could be no other ending.  Life offers no promises, no crystal ball to the future.

Like the preceding two books, the cover art and the color of the type help tell the story.  This time the color is red.  Is it blood as in death or blood as in cure?  Is it red for love or anger?  Is it all of these and more?  All of these may be correct.  Infrequently, a book stays with me long after I’ve finished reading.  This is added to that short list.

5p     5Q     Grade Level: 9-12+

Cover art: As with the first two books, the silhouette images of a wolf and human (this time male) are hidden in the woods.  Fans of the series will recognize this immediately.  As with the other two books, the color of the cover image is carried in the color of the type.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

ALA announces winners of Teens’ Top Ten

The 2010 Teens’ Top Ten are:

  1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  2. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  3. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  9. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

According to YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten website http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/teenreading/teenstopten/teenstopten.cfm):

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Readers ages twelve to eighteen will vote online between Aug. 23 and Sept. 17; the winners will be announced in a webcast featuring WWE Superstars and Divas during Teen Read Week.

How many have you read?  Take the poll in the right margin and let us know which is your favorite!

The poll is now closed!
Here are the results of “Which of the 2010 Teens’ Top Ten Is Your Must-Read?”

  1. Shiver (Maggie Stiefvater) 21.95%
  2. Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins) 18.29%
  3. Heist Society (Ally Carter) 17.07%
  4. Wintergirls (Laurie Halse Anderson) 15.85%
  5. Along for the Ride (Sarah Dessen) 10.98%
  6. Hush, Hush (Becca Fitzpatrick) 7.32%
  7. City of Glass (Cassandra Clare) 6.1%
  8. Beautiful Creatures (Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl) 1.22%
  9. If I Stay (Gayle Forman) 1.22%
  10. Fire (Kristin Cashore) 0%

Linger: The devour or savor dilemma

Linger (Book 2, Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy) by Maggie Stiefvater; published by Scholastic, New York, 2010; 360 pages.

What a wonderful world.  The “cure” has worked.  Sam is now very human all year long; no more dreading the cold.  He and Grace can be together all the time.  Yet all is not perfect in Mercy Falls.  Olivia, now a wolf, hasn’t been seen since her transformation.  Isabel, still reeling with guilt at her brother Jack’s death, is still edgy but those edges are beginning to soften.  Ah, and Cole, one of Beck’s last “creations,” wants to remain a wolf full-time, to lose himself in an instinctual life.  Sam has to take Beck’s role as caretaker for the pack, so all of these issues weigh heavy on him; as does a mysterious illness gradually making Grace weak and frighteningly sick.  When Grace’s parents find Sam in Grace’s bedroom, life takes on another kind of transformation in which the wonderful world suddenly spins out of control.

Oh, the dilemma I faced.  I loved Shiver so much that I almost dreaded reading the sequel.  Could Stiefvater keep up the remarkable craft of narrating from two perspectives?  Would the story be as compelling?  Once I started reading, I was faced with another dilemma: Should I devour this book or savor it (you know I want to say “linger,” don’t you! 😉 )?  Well, Stiefvater’s writing is so tight, so flowing, that I couldn’t help but get swept into the story and let the current rush me away.

To answer the first two questions: I should never worry about Stiefvater’s skills.  Not only was she able to effectively narrate from the perspectives of Sam and Grace, but she added the voices of Cole and Isabel as well.  Unbelievably, each of the four characters spoke with unique voices.  When I finished the book, just to test myself, I flipped to random pages to see if I could pick out who was narrating (and it was a piece of cake).  Also, the story is as compelling, if not more so, than Shiver.  Adding more of Sam’s music helps define his character and his relationship with Grace.  The back story for Cole not only helps us understand his motivations but also gives us insight into Isabel’s life.  Showing Grace’s parents’ attempt at parenting is also a glimpse into Grace’s inner strength.  Their superficial concerns are motivated by image and perception: What will the neighbors think?  The neighbors include Isabel’s father who is a real threat to the pack; his opinion of Lewis Brisbane (Grace’s father) is hinted at and affects all of the main characters.  Oh, there is so much that is right about this book!

Another interesting detail is the ink color.  In Shiver, the book was printed in blue ink to help portray the importance of the cold.  Brrr, I almost felt chilled reading it (especially as the chapters included thermometer readings).  In Linger, the ink is green.  The color of spring, warmer temperatures, and hope is perfect for the theme (and the irony) of the second story.  What color will be used in the third and final installment, Forever?  And when the heck is it going to be released?!?!?!?

It’s ironic that I read Linger after The Duff. I know it’s not fair to compare the two.  However, I will say that not a word is wasted in this book.  Every detail helps move the story forward, or helps define a character, or helps us walk into Mercy Falls.  And the characters are so fully fleshed, even the minor ones, that I can not only picture them, but I see them moving through the scenes of the book.  What a remarkable gift for a reader!  And, though Linger is a love story, it explores many layers of love: familial, fraternal, romantic.  Oh, and the love of music!  This book resonates on so many levels because of Stiefvater’s mastery of the written word.

Expect to see this book on many award lists.

5P     5Q     Grade Level: 9-12+

Cover Art:  The iconic silhouettes used in book one returns in Linger. A wolf and a girl are part of the forest.  Shades of green tie in with the green typeface in the book.  The single drop of blood still dots the “i” in the title.  A brilliant use of “corporate identity” lets browsers know that this is a Wolves of Mercy Falls title.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

Linger over this book trailer!!!

It’s almost here!  Linger, the much anticipated sequel to Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, will hit bookstores in June.  If you love Shiver as much as I do, and you can’t wait for the sequel, sate your appetite, if only a little bit!, by watching the book trailer….

Shiver gives goosebumps

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater; published by Scholastic Press, New York, 2009; 392 pages.

Grace was attacked by wolves in her backyard when she was 11 years old.  That incident has affected her more than she ever imagined.  Now 17, Grace prefers winter to summer because she can watch “her” wolf in the woods behind her house.  Sam is 18 years old and works summers near Grace.  His yellow eyes are his most distinguishing feature.  In fact, they are the same yellow eyes of Grace’s wolf.  Sam is a werewolf and changes form not by the phases of the moon but rather by cold temperatures.  Events unravel that bring Grace and Sam together and they discover a soul-mate bond with one another.  But his days as a human are numbered.  With the help of Sam’s wolf pack and Grace’s friends, they discover a cure for the werewolves.  Will they be able to save Grace’s friends?  Will she be in time to save Sam?  In a brilliantly written conclusion, Sam’s permanent conversion is unveiled.

Stiefvater has written the romance that I expected from the Twilight series.  Where Meyer is heavy-handed, manipulative and has created an unhealthily co-dependent heroine, Stiefvater is subtle, lyrical and has created a heroine who is more than capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with her true love.  In addition, I don’t think that boys will be embarrassed to read Shiver.  The mystery of the werewolves is as much a part of the plot as the romance between Grace and Sam.  Both characters have believable friendships, dysfunctional families, and teen troubles.  Shiver is escapism reading at its best.

The story is told from Grace’s and Sam’s perspectives, as indicated at the beginning of each chapter.  Stiefvater has miraculously created two distinct voices for the characters; it is obvious whose perspective the story is coming from.  I was also impressed by the author’s ability to describe the chemistry between Grace and Sam in a realistic way and without resorting to “telling” us about it; she describes glances and gasps, touches and eye contact.  She also uses an interesting plot device: Each chapter opens with the current temperature.  As readers follow the story, the importance of the degrees dropping help carry the story forward.  When the temperature hovers just above freezing, the anxiety of finding “the cure” is subtly reinforced.  The cold blue type and end pages reinforce the theme as well.  Fans of the Twilight series and genre will find a treasure in this book.  I’m disappointed that I have to wait until August of 2010 for the next installment!  When is the movie coming out?  This one’s a natural.  No wonder it made YALSA’s Quick Pick Nominations for 2009.

5P     5Q     Grade Level: 8-12+

shiverCover Art: The tangle of blue branches with their heart-shaped leaves hide the shadow of a wolf.  Within a frame of these branches is the word “shiver” in dark blue with a drop of blood dotting the i.  The author’s name is in paler blue unter the title.  This stunning cover should get the attention of teens, although the heart-shaped leaves may turn-off the male readers (too bad, I think they’d enjoy this book).  The image will get attention even before reading the book to understand the imagery, and then it will have even more impact.  The dark blue spine with the white font and blood-red dot over the i will stand out on the shelves.

Suggested Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

RSS Braingle’s Teasers

  • Today's Daily Brain Teaser (Oct 19, 2017)
    What Am I? You have no control over me, I am not real, though sometimes you believe me, I come back every night, but am often forgotten, Though left alone, I will never become rotten, Sometimes I remind you of things yet to come, Sometimes, watching me, you do things you've never done, I rarely ever turn out to be true, Now I am done with this riddle fo […]