Thursday, 18 January 2018

A Curse By Any Other Name (All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater)
"Colorado is a long way from most places. This meant the drive would've been long in any circumstances, but it seemed even longer because Pete and Tony, like a lot of people who were destined to be friends, couldn't stand each other." - Maggie Stiefvater, All the Crooked Saints, pages 19-20

Saints, as it turns out, don't deal in miracles so much as they do allegory. People travel from all over to visit the Sorias, a family of saints, but the first miracle manifests a person's darkness and more and more are struggling to defeat it. The Sorias themselves are forbidden from helping these people, lest their own darkness fall upon them. Of course, somebody didn't read the rule book.

All the Crooked Saints has everything you'd expect from a Stiefvater novel: lovingly described cars, magical elements, and beautiful writing. Though, admittedly, that last one felt a little overdone this time round. Every now and again I'd come across a phrase and wonder what on earth it was supposed to mean. It jumped around a lot too, which didn't help. There were also a number occasions on which I felt I was being told things rather than shown them.

I've seen a number of the characters being compared with characters from The Raven Cycle. Specifically, Beatriz to Blue and Pete to Gansey. I don't see it. Beatriz is a scientist. She always seems to be watching. She's somewhat emotionally repressed. She comes across as quiet, stoic. I grew quite fond of her over the course of the novel. Pete I could see being compared to Adam, but Gansey? Really? He has a hole in his heart (which felt a bit like a Chekov's Gun that never quite went off - he faints once and it's not exactly treated as a massive deal in the story) and a shattered dream of joining the military. He wants to start a company, get on in life. Then there's Daniel, the rebel turned saint, who my heart almost broke over at the end, and Joaquim, who's passionate about music and looked down on by his father because he's not into the type of work his father thinks a boy should be. I liked the way the novel critiqued the time period by showing us outdated gender views on both ends. There's also Marisita. Where do I start with Marisita? I don't like her. I sympathise with her backstory and everything she's been through, but, for me, there was too much of an emphasis on her being almost perfect. 

Which brings us to the romance. Beatriz and Pete? Yes, good, all love stories should begin with cockerel-stealing. But I didn't understand what Daniel and Marisita saw in each other. Their love was a plot device, I know, but it didn't ring true for me because we never saw them interact that much. There was also a great emphasis on platonic and familial relationships, like between the three cousins.

Overall, I did enjoy All the Crooked Saints. It had a unique premise and Beatriz made a great heroine.

Reading Challenges -
YA Reading Challenge: 1/12
Science Fiction VS Fantasy Bingo: Fantastic Beasts
Swords and Stars: Number 18: Read a book with magical realism in it 

Have you read All the Crooked Saints? What did you think?