basically decoding the synopsis
- a girl named beatriz, known as “the girl without feelings”* is our leading lady.
- she just casually made up her own language with which she communicates with her father and the owls with LIKE
- she also makes radios and is interested theoretical ideas. YES GIRL BE INTERESTED IN SCIENCE I RESPECT THAT.
- butttt in typical stiefvater fashion you get to pop into the POV almost every single character in the story. POVs! for! everyone!
- it takes place in rural colorado in the desert, which means ~aestheticness~ and dehydration. how fun!
- the soria family, who grants miracles lives here.
- pilgrims from all over the country come to bicho raro, colorado to be granted these miracles that will help them fix their problems!
- BUT PLOT TWIST. you actually have to perform the second part of the miracle-granting process yourself and fix the problems in your life yourself !! AND you have to stay in bicho raro until you do this!
- ergo, MAJOR OVERCROWDING in bicho raro and the Sorias hold a grudge against the pilgrims, and vice versa.
- lots of other magical happenings and eccentric characters.
i lovedddd the characters. as usual, maggie stiefvater has created a cast of wonderfully complex and lovable characters. there’s actually a large number of characters in this story, and she managed to make each and everyone dimensional and relatable. she created amazing backstories for many of them, which contribute to the overall impact of the story in their own right. i’ll introduce you to some of my favorites!
- beatriz. OH MY GOSH I LOVE HER. i can honestly say, beatriz is one of the most relatable characters i’ve ever read, if not the most relatable. many times when we talk about “relatable,” we think of characters that tell it like it is and have a sarcastic sense of humor. while this is relatable, i relate to beatriz in a different way than this.
maggie stiefvater said herself in a twitter thread that beatriz is an INTP on the Myers-Briggs personality test. as i have mentioned many many times, i am INTJ, so not the exact same as beatriz, but very similar.
For those in to Myers-Briggs, All the Crooked Saints’ Beatriz is the 1st character I built from a type: INTP — girl scientist.
— Maggie Stiefvater (@mstiefvater) August 10, 2017
beatriz is interested in scientific evidence (not miracles), builds radios, and is in general a very smart character. i see very few of this type of character in YA, and it was refreshing to see someone who thinks like me.
and now to sum up my feeling about human interaction in a single quote:
…but Beatriz had already vanished– she could not be persuaded to talk to strangers if there was anyone else who would do it instead, and she most certainly did not like to be volunteered to perform the miracle.
see?? RELATABLEEEE (to me at least *sigh*) ok. that rant is over. now onto the other characters i love!
- joaquin. one of beatriz’s cousins. he is flamboyant and runs an illegal radio station and is COMPLETELY LOVABLE <3. he and beatriz are so close with each other that they could be siblings.
- daniel. yet another of beatriz’s cousins. actually, he, joaquin, and beatriz are ALL so close that they should be siblings instead of just cousins. throughout the story, daniel’s personal struggle is one of morals. he is known as “the saint of bicho raro” aka the purest of the pure, but he is also in love with a girl he cannot have.
- pete. OH PETE, THE SWEETEST OF CINNAMON ROLLS. *squeeeee* so pure, so pure. pete is just a kid with a hole in his heart who moves to bicho raro with the hope of starting a moving company. i felt that he was less well developed than many of the other characters, but still a wonderful addition to the story. he’s beatriz’s love interest and i’m totally behind their ship.
the setting and world building was AH.MAZ.ING.
- is it just me or does maggie stiefvater pick the coolest settings for her books??
- because seriously– she does the “rural and isolated town” setting sooo well (just look at The Raven Cycle & The Scorpio Races!)
- the setting of bicho raro, colorado sets the whole tone for the novel. there’s such a magical atmosphere JUST from the learning about the setting, even if you haven’t met the characters or, heck, know anything at all about the story.
- you know when the setting of a story doesn’t feel totally incorporated into the novel?? THIS IS NOT THAT STORY. the setting just compliments all the other aspects of the story so well! the plot and all of the characters fit into bicho raro so well!
the writing was absolutely beautiful. listen, i know that maggie stiefvater’s writing isn’t for everyone– it’s very metaphorical and a little dense sometimes, but it’s one of the things that i love most about her books, personally. it’s part of what gives her books such a magical atmosphere, along with the world building.
bonus points to All the Crooked Saints for being such an aesthetic book. check out my pinterest board here. (sorry, i couldn’t figure out how to embed it with my new theme. i’ll work on it…
it felt a liiiittle short.but then again, i’m someone who enjoys a hefty book because i don’t fly through it in an hour. i guess the positive of this is that AtCS is a quick read, and those of you who avoid long reads like the plague will enjoy it??
personally though, i would have liked a little more of the characters and plot and story in general. the characters were really well developed, but with a little more story added, they could be even stronger.
beatriz and pete’s ship felt slightly insta-lovey. buuttt i do still love them together because they balance each other out well– pete being a softer person and beatriz being more analytical and blunt. so i guess this didn’t turn out to be much of a dislike??
five out of five beautiful watercolor cakes for this one.
if you are a fan of maggie stiefvater’s books, i would 10/10 recommend this book. the writing is beautiful, the characters are so well-developed, and the magical atmosphere is to die for.
concerning the pre-release drama over the representation of latinx characters: i do not think that it is my place to fully evaluate this, but i personally did not find anything offensive about the representation of mexican culture. however, i would recommend consulting another review for a full analysis. and my final thought on this drama: people, PLEASE do not make snap judgements about a book, when it HASN’T EVEN RELEASED YET for goodness sakes. why would you recommend for people not to read a book when you haven’t even read said book yourself?? it doesn’t make any sense.
okay. i’m done. that was just my two cents on this issue.