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#240 ~ Raven Stole the Moon

Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein

Published by: HarperCollins

Published on: March 9, 2010 ~ reprint

Page Count: 440

Genre: General Fiction

Format: Review copy sent by Sarah at Terra Communications

Availability: paperback and eBook


If you are interested in reading this novel, please check back later this week.  Thanks to Sarah at Terra Communications, I will have a copy to giveaway.  Stay tuned for more details. Update: I’ve posted the giveaway, which will be open until 11:59PM EST on 3.18.10.

My Review

Jenna lost her son, Bobby, in a tragic drowning while on a business-related vacation with her family at a soon-to-be-opened wilderness lodge.  Two years later at home with her husband Robert in Seattle, Jenna has yet to recover.  She’s seen numerous psychiatrists, but has yet to come to terms with Bobby’s death and the changes their loss made to their marriage.  After a fight at yet another business related event, Jenna takes off in Robert’s car.  At first she just wants to get home.  In the end, she just keeps driving, running away from Robert by default.  Eventually, she ends up headed on the ferry to Alaska, the home of her Tlingit grandmother and the place where Bobby died.  Can returning to the source of so much pain in her life help her move forward, or will it send her further into depression and despair?

The first half of this novel had all the makings of a great episode of “The X Files.”  After Jenna lands in Alaska after leaving Robert, she has the most creepy experiences. Because she doesn’t completely trust her sanity, she’s not sure if she believes what she sees.  What she may have experienced is creepy and kept me on the edge of my seat.  I loved the potential of kushtaka, the otter people gifted with the ability to shift their shape and “convert” souls.  When Jenna wonders if the kushtaka are real and if they may have some connection to the death of her son, I could just imagine Mulder and Scully investigating and having a field day with all the possibilities.  During that first half, I was in heaven.  I felt that I could relate to Jenna and I wanted her to find her way to where ever it was that she needed to go.

The second half of the novel didn’t work as well for me.  I grew impatient with Jenna and her attitude about anyone other than herself.  The story became much less suspenseful because it featured Robert and his attempts to find Jenna more prominently.  This weighted the novel down and was distracting.  I wanted the novel to be about Jenna and her discoveries.  I wasn’t so much concerned about Robert.  It’s not that he didn’t matter, but I wish there could have been more  a more concise way to bring him back into the story without the play by play.  Robert also put enough normalcy and reality back into the story that when the kushtaka arc built back up, I missed it.  I was no longer prepared for it.  Had I recognized it immediately, the end of this novel really would have packed a punch.

My  Final Thoughts

I didn’t like this novel as much as The Art of Racing in the Rain. However, Raven Stole the Moon was more challenging and in some ways more interesting. I enjoyed the Alaskan setting, history, and spirituality that were infused throughout.  I liked that Jenna and Robert were a mess and were prone to making rotten decisions when under stress.  It made them human.   The highlight for me was the section where Jenna relives her last moments with Bobby.  They were incredibly heartbreaking and powerful.  Had Stein maintained the same pacing and level of suspense consistently throughout, this novel would have been absolutely incredible.

Please Benefit from My Experience…

One would think that a person who loves books as much as I do would pay attention to the copyright information.  One would be wrong.  I dive right to the story and don’t look back.  I also apparently assume that a novel published today takes place in modern time unless explicitly told otherwise in the context of the story.Yeah, well that bit me in the back-end while reading Raven Stole the Moon.  From the very beginning I had a lot of niggling questions about why Jenna and her lack of a cell phone and why Robert didn’t just go online and check his bank and credit card accounts when Jenna was being so illusive.  Eventually, there were some Seattle musical references that finally clued me in to where I was in time.  However, had I bothered to read the copyright information I would have clearly seen that this edition is a reprint, not the original publication.  Stein published this novel originally in 1998.  Copyright information is your friend, people. LOL!

10 Comments

  • At 2010.03.09 09:38, caite said:

    I did not read his other book, so I have no expectations about this one. I must say the Alaskan setting is what really interests me since I was in Alaska for three weeks last year and have a sense of the area. But is that enough to enjoy a book?

    • At 2010.03.09 13:40, Ti said:

      As you said, the first half was so strong but the rest of it seemed a bit disjointed. I didn’t like Robert at all but a lot of what he did seemed out of character for him.

      I wasn’t aware that this was a re-print either until I got to the end of the book and saw the note. It certainly explained a lot.

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      • At 2010.03.09 15:06, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

        The reviews on this one have been so mixed, I can’t decide if I want to read it or not. I have to admit that I generally don’t pay that much attention to copyright info either.

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        • At 2010.03.09 16:16, Jennifer said:

          Caite, if you have any interest at all in Alaska I think you’ll enjoy this book. You should give it a try.

          Ti, I chalked up most of the out of character things to grief over Bobby. People can do crazy things under that kind of stress.

          Kathy, I think you would like it. You enjoyed Ravens and Ted Dekker, right. I would put this novel in a similar category – but not nearly as graphic as The Boneman’s Daughters. Not paying attention to the copyright was not my friend with this book. I’m going to make it a rule to always at least scan that information before I read every book.

          • At 2010.03.10 13:14, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

            I’m on the fence about this one. I didn’t read “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” but this premise interests me more, but honestly I haven’t seen any really great reviews, so I’m thinking maybe no.

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            • At 2010.03.11 01:32, Lisa said:

              I just can’t make up my mind about this one. While I really liked The Art of Racing in the Rain, I didn’t love it. And since the people that loved it aren’t liking this one as much, I have mixed feelings.

              • […] reviewed Garth Stein’s Raven Stole the Moon on Tuesday and I am very excited to host a giveaway of this book today.  Sarah from Terra […]

                • At 2010.03.11 14:56, Jenny said:

                  Oh how interesting that it’s a re-print. I don’t really like when they do that without specifically notifying you, especially if it’s one you’re reviewing for a publisher. I really loved Art of Racing, so we’ll see about this one!

                  • At 2010.03.11 15:11, Andi said:

                    I read and reviewed this one, too. Many of my thoughts echoed yours, and I thought the pacing was great. It actually kept me involved throughout, and my attention span has been really nonexistent lately. 🙂

                    • At 2010.03.25 10:53, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                      So now knowing that this was published previously, did this change your overall opinion of the book?

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