I received a copy of this book from Scholastic Australia in exchange for an honest review, but ended up listening to the audiobook, which I borrowed from my local library.
All The Crooked Saints tells the story of a world where miracles are real, and so are the saints that compel them. It takes place in small community on the edge of the Colorado desert, and it switches between the experiences of three Latinx cousins and the people they interact with.
The thing about All The Crooked Saints is that it gets better the more you read it. I can distinctly remember the opening pages, where I was honestly a little bit bored by three cousins in a pirate radio truck, but as it developed, and I got to know the Soria family and the pilgrims of Bicho Raro, I enjoyed it more and more. I kind of got an idea that the entire book was built up to the punch line in the very final line, which is kind of awesome. I had a great time listening to this audiobook read by Thom Rivera, who does a decent job of reading in each character’s distinct voice.
This book is less about any one, or even three, main characters, and more about the community as a whole. It actually reminded me of The Night Circus in that at first it seemed like a series of vignettes put together describing each character and life in Bicho Raro. Maybe because it’s written in third person omniscient. But the more I read/listened, the more the stories joined together. This really is a masterfully crafted book.
Stiefvater holds a place as probably the most lyrical writer I read in YA. Each sentence is a masterpiece and the end effect had a great impact on me. Although I didn’t feel particularly connected to any one character, I did really feel for all of them, especially when Joaquin played Can’t Help Falling In love With You on his pirate radio station. I felt invested in the characters and if it hadn’t turned out the way it did, I probably would have been extraordinarily disappointed. As it is, I feel that this stand alone book was a wonderful investment of my time to read/listen to, and I feel emotionally fulfilled at the end.
So I took a few days to write this review just to think about the book.
This book was weird. While reading it, I really cared about Sam and Grace. I wanted them to be happy. Thinking back on it, I find that I just don't care as much. That's odd for me. Normally, once I latch onto a character, I love them for life. I can't even really say what I liked about them while reading it. Neither one seemed all that special. I mean, sure, Sam is a werewolf, but who isn't in YA these days? It's different that they only change when it's cold. And I did feel bad for him and his messed up childhood with what his parents did to him. But that's it. Now. But while reading Shiver, I thought he was just awesome. I'm not going to act like I wasn't relieved when he was human at the end though.
This started pretty slowly for me. Some people enjoy that easy going start. I'm not one of those people. Overall, the action in this book was lacking. The end was decent however. I never would have guessed that by getting them sick, they could be cured. Well, not for Jack, but... Whatever. He was a jerk anyway. Aside from the romance, there didn't seem to be much of anything. Which for a romance is fine, but I expected more. I don't even know why. All I have ever heard about this book is that it is a good romance. I just think werewolves, so there must be something more to it. Not really.
Meh. Nothing special. Could have been my hometown. Which is fine.
This is why Shiver is getting four stars from me. Because despite everything complaint I just had, the writing drew me in. I wanted to read me. Some parts were downright lyrical, folks. If you want romance and pretty writing, this is the book for you. If you need some action to go along with it, pass this one up.