Tag Archives: characterization

Where I bow down to Maggie Stiefvater’s greatness

July 30th 2013

Last night, I finished reading The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater — a book so creative and memorable that I doubt I’ll stop thinking about it for weeks.

First, I am so damn lucky I got a copy of this at Book Expo in June (Thanks, BEA!). I’m a little ashamed it took me so long to get to it. I’m not going to ‘review’ the book here. (I’d never do it justice). I guess I sort of want to gush about Maggie Stiefvater’s incredible talent at creating memorable characters, in particular, Ronan Lynch. Maggie Stiefvater is a genius when it comes to characterization.

Her characters are flawed, fully-dimensional people with personal tragedies and triumphs. They are not stereotypical, cliched versions of anyone. Ronan Lynch is not your typical bad boy. The middle child of a wealthy Irish family, Ronan’s father was violently murdered and only Ronan knows why. His mother is not in the picture. He detests his older brother, who he claims is a liar, but he’s kind and nuturing to his younger brother. Ronan drinks heavily to dull the pain and he’s reckless. He never attends classes, but is fluent in Latin. He’s also fiercely loyal to Gansey and Adam. He’s dark, mysterious, magnetic and utterly compelling. I’d say I have a literary crush on Ronan Lynch.

Nothing made me happier to discover that The Dream Thieves is largely about Ronan. The cliffhanger of a last line in The Raven Boys made me anxious to find out more about him in book 2 and Stiefvater didn’t hold back. Ronan is far more complicated than anyone could have imagined. And because Stiefvater writes in third person, we are left to dissect Ronan’s character on our own because we can’t get in his head. There’s still that distance there and it allows us not to have the entire picture. Therefore, I understand Ronan differently than someone else reading the same book. This is very different experience had Stiefvater written her characters in alternating first-person POVs. I don’t want to be told what Ronan is thinking; I want to wonder for myself.

On another note, Stiefvater should teach a workshop on how to write scenes with so many characters. No one is forgotten about and everybody is woven into the scene so effortlessly. Teach me, o’ wise one.

I once read an agent say that plot sold books to publishing houses. But in my opinion, characters are the ones who sell books to readers. And Ronan Lynch sold The Raven Boys to me.