Monthly Archives: September 2013

United We Spy

GG6-finalToday was a big day for teen books.  If you didn’t know that, let me remind you: Maggie Stiefvater’s Book 2 of The Raven Boys: The Dream Thieves.  If you’re confused or curious, check out the previous post.

But as awesome as The Dream Thieves is (and let me tell you, it really is awesome, there’s a major book release that I was almost more excited about.  THE FINAL GALLAGHER GIRL BOOK CAME OUT TODAY!!!

I want to begin by saying that United We Spy was AMAZING, but in no way able to be fairly compared to Out of Sight, Out of Time.  OoSOoT dealt with some pretty serious stuff, namely potentially real issues a spy would face.  And that book is the one I firmly assert is the best of the entire series, both in writing and plot.

But United We Spy is the most excitingly happy book in the series, and I’m just grinning as I’m thinking about it again.  This is another one I really don’t want to spoil, so I’ll try to avoid most of the important stuff.  The essential plot boils down to this: after #5, which was a long hard slog through emotional turmoil and betrayals and danger and excitement, #6 is the conclusion of Cammie’s education at Gallagher Academy.  She teams up with her friends for the last time in her school career, she has more romantic moments with a certain boy, and she deals with adults who complicate her life.

Now, I’ve been on a Harry Potter kick for the past couple of weeks, so I’m sorry about the comparison, but here it is: UWS is in no way similar to the conclusion of Rowling’s series.  As I told my sister before giving her my copy to read, the major characters make it through unscathed, and the bad guys have things happen.  I won’t say that everything is just and fair, but I think it’s important to say that Cammie makes it out alive, as do her mom and Joe.

Now let me pause for a minute in an unrelated tangent: I love Joe Solomon.  I really do.  He is the only character in the entire series (except for Rachel and Cammie) whom I have loved unconditionally no matter what.  He is the kind of awesome man I want to be friends with, and the kind whom I would love to marry someday.  Just because he is that cool.  And if he hadn’t made it through the book alive, I wouldn’t have read it.  I would have thrown it through a window and yelled and cried and written a very angry letter to Ally Carter.  So that’s why I have no problem spoiling the plot a little.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows made me forever fear the final book in a series.  I don’t ever want to read another series conclusion that has a cast of brilliant characters, 99% of whom appear dead in a chapter as a passing thought.  “And Harry returned from dealing with all sorts of emotional turmoil, only to find everyone whose name he ever knew was dead in the Great Hall.”  Yeah, not really my cup of tea.  So the fact that United We Spy sees a pretty happy ending for the good guys is exactly what I wanted.

I think it’s also fair to point out that, at the beginning of this series, Cammie was young and adorable and innocent, and up until OoS, it was a pretty sweet series.  In OoS, though, we ran into a darker vein of the life of a spy, namely the dangers that one cannot escape.  I was worried that that’s why Carter would make UWS a darker book.  It would carry on this theme of betrayal and misery and turmoil.  But, joy of joys, it didn’t!  There’s so much humor and so many beautiful moments, I can’t even express how pleased I am with this book.  Can I just share one of my favorite moments?

“Mom!” I yelled.  “Mom, I’m–” I said, bursting through the door; but then I stopped cold because Joe Solomon was lying on the leather couch in my mother’s office.  And, oh yeah, his shirt was totally off.

“Uh…” I said.  I might have physically stumbled.  But what else was I supposed to do at the sight of my teacher – and my mom’s new sort-of boyfriend – with his shirt off?

It was epic.  It was awkward.  It was epically awkward.

Everything glorious captured in one fantastic scene.  And yes, I was excited that Joe was finally shirtless.  Not that I wanted details (the narrator is 18, and it’s her mom’s almost-kind-of boyfriend for goodness sake!), but it just took us long enough to get there!

So let me say this as my final review of the final book of this amazing series: I have loved every second of reading every book, and I am so insanely happy about how this concludes, I forgive any feeling of rushed plot or twists I didn’t expect because it’s just made my day.  And I can’t recommend this enough.

As a side note, I know I always recommend you support your local bookstore (because it’s a topic very near and dear to my heart), but I also want to let you know that at Barnes and Noble, UWS includes an exclusive short story as a sort of epilogue to the epilogue.  I’m going to admit that I now have two copies of this book because I wanted to buy local, but I also wanted the epilogue.  I’m not saying it’s necessarily worth the second copy, but if you get the chance, give it a read – it’s a sweet little addition to a wonderful book.  And since it doesn’t change the real ending of the book, you just feel a little bit more satisfied, even though you didn’t know you could feel any happier than you already were.

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Raven Boys #2: The Dream Thieves

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Maggie Stiefvater is one of the coolest, most fantastic, most awesome human beings ever.  And she happens to be an author.  A really, really good author.  I had the chance to sit at her lunch table a few years ago when she came with Libba Bray and Meg Cabot for a Northern California indie bookstore luncheon.  It was a ton of fun, but what I really learned was Maggie is hilarious, and so wickedly smart, it only makes sense that her books are phenomenal.  And today one of the most amazing books you’ll ever read came out.  And guess who wrote it?  Oh, yeah.  Maggie Stiefvater.

Let me begin by saying that if you haven’t read The Raven Boys, you haven’t lived.  I mean, seriously.  It was so much fun and so fantastically written.  And the Welsh mythology (which isn’t always a major player in teen novels) is so cool you just have to research to try to predict what’s going to happen.  On that note, let me say now that it’s really easy to describe how I felt reading The Dream Thieves.

My.  Mind.  Was.  Blown.

People say that a lot.  So much so, in fact, that the phrase has become rather cliché and no one really believes that anything can be all that mind-blowing.

This one is actually seriously boggling.

The second RB book centers around Ronan Lynch, the bad boy of the group and the one you expect you’ll somehow come to like when you first meet him in Book 1.  I can’t figure out how best to describe him, but essentially what I felt when I was reading DT is that he starts out as a pretty Draco kind of figure (you know, you don’t want to like him but there’s something about him that you just can’t help but adore) and by the end of this book he has become a full-fledged Snape.  And, considering the fact that I consider Severus Snape to be one of the greatest creations in literature, and definitely the best character in the entire Harry Potter series, that’s saying a lot.

Essentially, if you haven’t read either one yet (and really, you should – what are you reading this for?  GO GET THOSE BOOKS!), the idea is that there are three “Raven Boys,” who attend the elite Aglionby Academy: Richard Gansey (who goes by his surname only), Adam Parrish (who attends Aglionby on scholarship), and Ronan Lynch (again, the bad boy who doesn’t really fit into the Gansey/Parrish relationship).  Gansey, the leader of the group, is on the hunt for the Welsh king Glendower, who died long, long ago.  (Side note: Glendower… remember in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, how there’s the weird Welsh magician dude?  Yeah, that’s him.  Check out the Wikipedia page for a quick overview.)  Adam is the angsty best friend who is actually resentful of Gansey, seemingly because Gansey has the ability to love, be loved, and still be wicked cool even when he’s looking for a dead Welsh dude.  And then there’s Ronan, who is kind of the fists/blood/guts/bad-ass member of the group.  And then the boys meet Blue Sargent, whose paranormal family includes her psychic mother, and who has been told that if she kisses her true love, he will die.  Period.  Blue doesn’t like the Raven Boys, but as she spends more time with the Tormented Trio, they become closer and some romance may (or may not) pop up.

So here’s my secret: I’m not going to tell you much about DT.  It’s a book that I really think you have to read in order to fully comprehend how incredible it is.  But here’s the basic gist: someone is after the Lynch boys (Ronan is one of three brothers). Gansey is still searching for Glendower.  Adam is angsty.  Blue is torn between her feelings for Gansey and Adam.  Ronan has about a million secrets he’s hiding from everyone.  There’s a creepy awful villain figure who is disturbingly awesome and has a serious kind of connection with Ronan.  And did I mention that Ronan is hiding secrets?  And, of course, there are some more twists and turns along the way that are just phenomenal.

I often tell people that books are my favorites, or that I highly recommend them, or that they’re a must read, and sometimes I mean it just slightly.  Like Mary Barton.  I love it (genuinely), and I seriously recommend it (I do, I promise), and I consider it a must read, but I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone because it’s not in my absolute top 10 books of all time.

RB is up on that list of my favorite books, but DT is absolutely on that list.  Like, the top half.  And maybe part of that is because the focus on Ronan means a much more complex reading.  But it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you read this book.

I can’t repeat this any more, so instead here are some links you should check out.  Like, right now.  Or, you know, after you pick up your copy of the book…

For more on the series from Maggie’s site, click here!  Check out IndieBound to find your local bookstore and more on the book.  And be sure to check out Maggie’s YouTube videos, like this one.

And seriously, just go and buy a copy of the dang books already!!!  🙂

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