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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Call Down the Hawk is the first book in Maggie Stiefvater's spin-off series to The Raven Cycle quartet, focusing on Ronan Lynch and taking place just a few months after the events of The Raven King. As with her other books in this universe, the characters must learn to trust one another and work together in order to survive threats. There's everything you'd expect from a Stiefvater novel: fast cars and car chases, slow-burn romance, fierce and fabulous girls, angsty and vulnerable boys, and the continuation of one of YA's most beloved love stories. The main characters are out of high school (and others are in their early 20s), but the book will appeal to mature middle schoolers and up who are familiar with the previous books. There's some disturbing violence (as well as comical violence) including some executions, shootouts, a suicide, and nightmarish creatures that can injure and kill. Language can be strong ("f--k" is used more often than "s--t" and "a--hole"), but that's par for the course for Ronan. Readers will be inspired to check out the artists, artwork, and folklore mentioned in the story.
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What's the story?
CALL DOWN THE HAWK is the first book in Maggie Stiefvater's new Dreamer Trilogy, a Ronan-centered spin-off of The Raven Cycle -- set a few pivotal months after the end of The Raven King and its follow-up short-story Opal. Existing fans may remember that Blue and Gansey are off on a gap year road-tripping with Henry, while Adam, having spent the summer with Ronan, is now in college at Harvard. Ronan, who can manifest his dreams into reality, is the only one doing the same thing -- dreaming at the Barns and on the weekends hanging out with his cautious (i.e. boring) older brother Declan, a 21-year-old congressional intern, and adorably sweet younger brother Matthew, a 16-year-old high schooler. In his dreams, Ronan has been hearing a particular voice that tells him secrets and seems to know the future. After his plan to join Adam in Cambridge, Massachussets, hits an unexpected snag, Ronan returns to Virginia to accompany his older brother to underground market of illicit, stolen, and supernatural goods. Eventually the brothers cross paths with another Dreamer, Jordan Hennessy, who makes a living as an art forger and has a life-or-death secret about her dream things. Meanwhile, Moderators, a mysterious group of special-forces types, is assassinating Dreamers around the globe in order, they claim, to stop a worldwide apocalypse.
Is it any good?
Author Maggie Stiefvater lovingly continues the story of angry and vulnerable Dreamer Ronan Lynch and his equally layered brothers in this thrilling and heartbreaking companion series start. Stiefavter excels at writing complex characters who start off seeming one way but are actually much more multidimensional than they initially look. There are five main points of view in this new series: that of Ronan, his brother Declan, newcomers Hennessy and Jordan, as well as young Moderator Carmen. Since Carmen is in a secret squad with a mission to kill Dreamers, her perspective is the least empathetic, but as the story continues, it's clear she's not as rigid as she was in the beginning. Declan's story arc is particularly compelling, because we had seen him only as Ronan's smarmy older brother who uses fitting in and lying as a disguise to keep his family's secrets safe. Jordan is fascinating because she's an expert art forger, which becomes quite symbolic once you find out about her past.
Hennessy is a fascinating counterpart and new friend to Ronan. They bond in a way he never could have with Kavinsky in The Dream Thieves. Those who paid close attention in the earlier books will be rewarded with references and mirror scenes, but it's not completely necessary to have read the Raven Cycle to enjoy this new trilogy. What is completely necessary is to be Team "Pynch" (Adam Parrish and Ronan Lynch). Since Adam's away at college, they're not physically together for most of the book, but Adam always looms large in Ronan's thoughts. There was so much panic in Stiefaver's fandom that the author literally had to promise that while she enjoys making readers cry, she's not going to devastate us (i.e. break up her fans' One True Pairing). There are a lot of twists and turns in Call Down the Hawk, but as both Declan and Jordan say, it's mostly "art and violence" and dreams and desire.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Call Down the Hawk. How is it necessary to the plot? Is the impact different between reading something violent and seeing it on screen?
How do books with multiple points of view affect readers differently from books with one perspective. How does reading various characters' perspectives make them more sympathetic?
How much does Ronan and Adam's love story matter to you? What do you think about the other potential couple? Why are "opposites-attract" romances so popular?
What did you learn about various artists and artistic styles? Do you want to research any of the artworks or artists mentioned?
Do the various representations of race, religion, and sexual orientation in the story seem authentic? Why is diversity important in young adult literature?
- Author: Maggie Stiefvater
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Magic and Fantasy, Arts and Dance, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: November 5, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 472
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 10, 2020
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