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.