Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: Raven Stole the Moon & Giveaway

Summary: From the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain comes an extraordinary tale of grief, devotion, redemption, and timeless mystery.

When Jenna Rosen abandons her comfortable Seattle life to visit Wrangell, Alaska, it's a wrenching return to her past. The hometown of her Native American grandmother, Wrangell is located near the Thunder Bay Resort, where Jenna's young son, Bobby, disappeared two years before. His body was never recovered, and Jenna is determined to lay to rest the aching mystery of his death.

But whispers of ancient legends begin to suggest a frightening new possibility about Bobby's fate, and Jenna must sift through the beliefs of her ancestors, the Tlingit, who still tell of powerful, menacing forces at work in the Alaskan wilderness. Armed with nothing but a mother's protective instincts, Jenna's quest for the truth behind her son's disappearance is about to pull her into a terrifying and life-changing abyss. -- Harper


When I found out that Garth Stein had a "new" book out called RAVEN STOLE THE MOON, I jumped at the chance to read it. I absolutely loved THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN (you can read my review here), and I have been anxiously awaiting his "next" novel. You might be wondering why I'm using all of the quotation marks -- it's because RAVEN STOLE THE MOON is actually a re-release of an out-of-print book that Mr. Stein wrote over 13 years ago. Since I enjoyed THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN so much, I admit that I had very high expectations for this novel.

Unfortunately, I didn't find RAVEN STOLE THE MOON to be as captivating as THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. That's not to say that the book didn't have some merits. I'm just saying that it wasn't as good to me. It took me quite awhile to really get into the story and the characters, and I'd go so far as to say that I found the first half of this book to be pretty slow. I understand that Mr. Stein was setting up the background of the story and the characters, but I just wish he had done it in less words. In fact, I think the book would have been much better had it been about 100 pages shorter (it was almost 450 pages.)

And that leads me to my second problem with this novel -- I just didn't feel anything towards the main character Jenna. I so wanted to relate to her and feel her pain for losing her child, and I did to a certain extent. I just couldn't make that jump to really relating to her. I really wanted something more from Jenna. I guess I didn't feel as if her character was developed enough for me. Now, I know that I don't have to love the characters to appreciate the book; however, it certainly makes it easier sometimes!

Having said all this, I don't want you to think that I didn't like this book because there were parts of it that were really good (and I've seen quite a few very positive reviews.) I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the unique premise of this book, and I liked how the author even incorporated some supernatural aspects into the story. I also was fascinated by the beliefs of the Tlingit, and I truly thought Mr. Stein did a great job of explaining the Tlingit culture. In addition, I thought his descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness were wonderful.

I did enjoy the second half of the book much more than the first. I actually felt as if the story really took off and I did get caught up in Jenna's life. I was surprised (in a good way) with how much the supernatural/myth storyline came to the forefront. And the book did have a very exciting and action-packed conclusion. I felt satisfied with how the book ended (even though it wasn't exactly what I wanted.)

One thing that did stand out for me when reading RAVEN STOLE THE MOON was that the book did seem dated. I'm not going to go so far as to say that it got in the way of my appreciation of the story. It's just that I found it odd that Jenna couldn't just pick up her cell phone and call people -- she had to look for a pay phone. I guess that really tells you how much I take technology for granted in today's society (and I can't believe that 13 years ago, cell phones weren't part of our lives.) I was a little bit surprised that Mr. Stein and the publisher didn't update the novel to make it more current, but then I read his author's note in the back of the book and understood his reasons for not making the changes.

I do think RAVEN STOLE THE MOON would work for a lot of book clubs. There is definitely a huge amount of topics to discuss including marriage, guilt, redemption, grieving, motherhood, addiction, depression, etc. In addition, I'm sure many clubs will love to explore the supernatural aspect of the story as well as the culture and beliefs of the Tlingits. I couldn't find a on-line reading guide at this time, but I'm sure one will be available in the near future. I will link to it when it comes out.

Thanks to Terra Communications for sending me a review copy of this novel.

And because I know a lot of you are dying to read this book, I am so excited to announce that I have one copy of RAVEN STOLE THE MOON to giveaway courtesy of Terra Communications! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with a valid email address telling me if you've ever read a Garth Stein book! This giveaway will be open until Sunday, March 21st at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you in the U.S and Canada only. Good luck!

44 comments:

Mystica said...

I'm the first so I hope I will get lucky for this giveaway.

mystica123athotmaildotcom

Lady_Graeye said...

Please count me in. This looks like a wonderful book. Maybe I can win! :-)

lisaglidewell[at]gmail[dot]com

Meghan said...

No need to enter me in the giveaway - I'm not sure I'd like this too much. After hearing all of you chat about it, I was interested to see what you thought. I think I'll read The Art of Racing in the Rain instead!

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

Beth F said...

No need to enter me, either. I think I'll also start with Art of Racing in the Rain. Thanks for your well-rounded review, though. I've been curious about this book.

Marjorie said...

I have never read a book by this
author, I really enjoy a good
mystery and would love to win this
book.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

bermudaonion said...

I don't have to like a character to enjoy a book, but I have to be "invested" in them (for lack of a better word). No need to enter me.

Barbara said...

like to enter contest, please. my book club read Art of Racing and picked it as Favorite book of year. I'd like to compare. Thanks so much.

barbara.d.mead at mindspring dot com

Sandra K321 said...

I have read The Art of Racing in the Rain and I loved it. Being a lover of both dogs and racing, it was perfect for me. And I loved the ending.
seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

Melissa Taylor said...

This looks great - I have heard great things about The Art of Racing in the Rain and need to read it.

Delia said...

I've never read a book by this author, and although you said it took you a bit to get into, advice from my grandmother comes to mind. "Always finish a book, you never know how the ending will surprise you."

Delia E
giglee@hotmail.com

Ti said...

I posted my review of Raven today, so no need to enter me in the giveaway. I really liked the first half of the book, but the second half sort of fell apart for me.

tetewa said...

Sounds good, I'd like to be inclued! tWarner419@aol.com

amanda18228 said...

I have read The Art of Racing in the Rain and loved it.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

Future Libraian said...

I have not read a Garth Stein book before. Thanks for the giveaway!
futurelibrarian2038 [at] gmail [dot] com

Jennifer said...

We are polar opposites on this except where we completely agree. LOL! I actually was very connected to Jenna at the beginning, but about the time where she goes to find the shawman, I disconnected from her. So, together, we liked her the whole way through. I also liked The Art of Racing in the Rain better and was confused why Robert didn't just log on and check their credit card activity himself. Since the novel isn't current date any longer, it might have been a good idea to establish the story's place in time early on in the book.

Jennifer at The Literate Housewife Review

Simply Stacie said...

I've never read one of his books.

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

Erica said...

Sounds like a great read. I actually like the thought of a dated story. A life without cell phones or e-mail sounds like a dream world to me right now. Especially in the wild world of alaska. What a 360 from my own life. Ha!

traveler said...

Thanks for this lovely giveaway. saubleb(at)gmaail(dot)com

ossmcalc said...

I have not read any books by Garth Stein but would like to have the opportunity to do so. Maybe I will get lucky and get the chance to do so after this contest is over.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, darling. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Margie said...

I have read The Art of Racing in the Rain and absolutely loved it. So I too would have high expectations for this book. Please include me in the giveaway.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

brichtabooks said...

I read The Art of Racing in the Rain and loved it! Count me in for this one! joules21@aol.com

bookluvreternity said...

Do you know if he make any significant changes? I read the book a while ago, when it was first published and loved it. One blogger mentioned that his changes were slight, another one said that major vulgar passages were removed in this version... just trying to figure it out. I'm also wondering why the heck they changed the cover... even though the old one was way better and more in line with the mythical story.

J.T. Oldfield said...

I haven't ever read Garth Stein, but I really want to because he's a local (Seattle) author. However, I really don't care about dogs. Don't even like 'em, so I've avoided Art of Racing in the Rain. I would LOVE to read this one though!

j.t.oldfield[at]gmail.com

breezesbooks said...

I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain!

harfro(at)aol(dot)com

ruthhill74 said...

I have never read a Garth Stein book, but it sounds interesting.
ruthaw_1974@yahoo.com

Debbie F said...

I have never read any of his books but it sounds great. Please enter me

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

April said...

I have read "The Art...." and being an animal lover, realy enjoyed it!

Thanks for the giveaway!

librarianapril at gmail dot com

Laura said...

I have read his "Racing in the Rain" book and loved it.

Laura.Adams@ky.gov

Becca said...

Please enter me! I have not read any Garth Stein books yet. I'd love to start with this one!

thanks
rebecca.bradeen(at)verizon(dot)net

Jolee said...

Like to try. Never read any Garth Stein. joleehamlin@comcast.net

Teddy Rose said...

I read The Art of Racing in the Rain and LOVED it!

teddyr66 at yahoo dot com

wheresmyrain said...

I really loved the first book racing in the rain, looking forward to reading this one too!

wheresmyrain@yahoo.com

Esme said...

I did not read his first book-but please enter me

chocolateandcroissants at yahood ot com

Esme said...

I did not read his first book-but please enter me

chocolateandcroissants at yahood ot com

Jaime said...

no, I have never read
copperllama at yahoo dot com

Vera said...

Never read a Garth Stein book, but would love to try! vvperesk@gmail.com

nfmgirl said...

Nope, never read one of their books before. Thank you!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Misusedinnocence said...

I haven't yet. I would love the pleasure!

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Libby's Library said...

Not yet...but maybe I'll get lucky.
Thanks for the giveaway.

libneas[at]aol[dot]com

Jenn said...

I have not read any of the books by this author but would love to give her a try. Thanks

Anita Yancey said...

I have never read a Garth Stein book, but I would like to. This one sounds great. Please enter me. Thanks!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Sarah E said...

Please enter me in this giveaway!

I have never read a Garth Stein book.

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Nancye said...

I have never read a Garth Stein book.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net