Book Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

I want to start off by saying this series as a whole has been a dream, Maggie Stiefvater is a fabulous author, I love the way she chooses to word things, I love how she described people and places and simple objects like a journal. There is a lyrical dream-like quality about her writing which I fell instantly in love with. I was very satisfied and at the same time left wanting after finishing The Raven King. It’s always difficult to end a series and there will inevitably be those who don’t like how the story ends and today I just happen to be one of them.

I will start by saying the most satisfying thing about this book for me was seeing my Ronan and Adam ship set sail. Their relationship development was such a joy to read and they were definitely my favourite part of the whole book. For me they outshined the main romance of the book Blue and Gansey, whose relationship I think ultimately ended up being much less developed and less interesting. The reason for this I believe is that Adam and Ronan are such strong characters and they develop more as characters than Blue and Gansey. I wouldn’t like to accuse an author of favouritism with her characters but it definitely felt like the focus shifted. There is significant changes to Ronan and Adam’s characters from the beginning to the end of the series, Blue and Gansey and Noah I don’t think changed that much in the end.

The most disappointing aspect of this book for me (apart from the end itself) was the loose ends that were left. In a previous review I explained why I liked the lack of explanation but for me when explanations were given they just seemed odd and there was too many questions that I felt needed answers.

First of all was this book started with Blue’s curse – if she kisses her true love he will die. I felt like this was the whole premise of the book but at the end it was just left. Is she gonna kill Gansey if she kisses him everytime? The book said Gansey would die because she was a mirror and something about Gansey being saved by Cabeswater, but this happened again? So by the logic of the first curse she will still kill Gansey but I wouldn’t know as this wasn’t explained.

Then we had the three sleepers who were mentioned a lot in book three but as we turned out this simply wasn’t true. Why was this even a thing when there clearly wasn’t three sleepers? We were told over and over again Gansey was meant to wake one of them. He never “woke” anyone who had been asleep. Furthermore Gansey’s weird ability to say what he wants to happen wasn’t explained. Unless you consider that everything he was able to command was a product of Ronan’s dreams so it would make sense that Gansey had the same power in Ronan’s dream that he had over Ronan. Again I don’t know for sure.

Finally we have Ronan himself, most of the magical realism in this book was based on psychic abilities, fortune telling and tarot card reading. How is it that Ronan can take things from dreams? A power so different to what has been described within the realms of normal within the book. This question is absolutely VITAL when you consider that Ronan is directly responsible for about 80% of the plot. It was never explained why Niall could do it and Ronan can do it but not Declan. For me this was the most important thing as without this explanation the books become a random series of events accidentally orchestrated by Ronan. These are just a few of the many questions and loose ends I was left with when finishing this book.

I also felt there was a lot of extra side characters and plot that was introduced only to be ignored and amounted to nothing by the end. For example Henry Cheng, I have no idea why I was reading about him, his mother, his dumb bee or his kidnapping. It was like he was replacement Noah and the replacing had to be done quickly. I liked Henry, I liked him a lot,  but I wish he had been more carefully woven into the story, and I would have liked him more if Noah hadn’t disappeared for Henry to appear. Henry’s friendship with Gansey was so forced I was convinced he was doing his mother’s bidding and was gonna turn on them all any second.

I have mixed feelings about the ending on the one hand I kind of loved what happened when they discovered Glendower and what that meant in the end. This element of realism was a really nice touch and showed that it was all about the journey and not the destination. The rushed series of events on the side of a road however, wasn’t what I thought this story was building to. I guess it just fell a bit flat for me, I didn’t get that feeling you get when you are reading a really intense part of the book. I felt like I had stumbled upon the ending without realising I was there.

I didn’t feel like anyone’s story was concluded properly it just kind of ended or maybe the right word was paused. I have no idea what happened to Maura, Calla, The Gray Man, Noah, Artemius etc. This may have been deliberate by the author to allow for more books, but I feel like the story of the Raven King should have ended, even if there are more adventures and stories to be told in this world.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. 

The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

My thoughts..

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers for Blue Lily, Lily Blue below.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue put the Raven Cycle series back up to a four star read for me.  I think I loved this book more than The Dream Thieves as it focused less on the magic and the mystery and more on the development of relationships. Character relationships have always been the main draw of reading for me, I just usually prefer a fantasy setting and some sort of mystery to keep me intrigued.

This leads me to reason why I had to put a spoiler warning on this review and why I loved this book so much which was of course Ronan and Adam. This was hinted at in the second book, but it finally started to develop in this book and I am loving it. I have to admit when reading about Ronan’s feelings in The Dream Thieves it seemed like an impossible dream of his, but Blue Lily, Lily Blue has started to make it a reality. I love everything about these two together, I loved the looks and the unspoken quality of what was maybe developing. I have no idea of Adam’s sexuality but him calling Blue the female Ronan gives me hope for these two in the future.

Now I do love how Maggie doesn’t feel the need to explain every little plot point and detail, it gives her books a dream like quality and as a reader you have to just accept that things are the way they are because that’s how it is. I love this about these books, I love how they are written. However I still struggled with certain parts of the story when they didn’t feel part of the story but more plot twists for plot twists sake. Maura randomly disappearing with no explanation how she knew where she was going, why she decided to go or how she was suddenly able to do what she did was one of these parts. I love Maura as a mother and a character but when she does things I don’t understand like dating violent killers and disappearing off to find Artemis I can’t help but roll my eyes a bit.

I have no idea how this series is going to end, and whilst I am curious I am not overly concerned. That is not to say that the plot isn’t interesting, I love the elements of magics so perfectly immersed in a realistic setting. I am immensely curious about how the Raven boys journey will end, but I think the main draw for me (apart from Maggie Stiefvater’s dreamy writing) has always been the developing relationships within these books.

“Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.”

This quote I believe perfectly encompasses why people love this series and these characters so much. The messy and realistic dynamics of the group, despite one of them being dead, is what sets this series apart from your typical ya fantasy and I think why people love these books so much.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis

Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him.

Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour.

Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?

My thoughts..

This book took me a little while to get into, the way the author described things and revealed things was a bit jarring at first but soon after I was hooked. This book for me had all the nostalgia of the school summer holidays but with a darker edge. I loved how the elements of magic and witchcraft are grounded in a realistic narrative of the characters personal lives and relationships. Reading this book felt exactly like when I played make-believe when I was little. When trees became houses and I brewed potions out of plants and leaves.

Blue is the main protagonist, I loved Blue and her house crammed full of her psychic mother’s family and friends. Blue has no psychic ability, her ability is that she makes magic and psychic power stronger for those who have it. Blue is kind of an outsider, even in her own home, she is sensible but stubborn and has a great relationship with her mother. Blue eventually meets The Raven Boys, who are made up of Gansey who is very rich and old before his time, he likes to help people even when they don’t want his help and is a kind of modern day treasure hunter. Ronan who uses his words like weapons, he’s the darker moody character with a tragic past he is still dealing with. There’s Adam who feels like he doesn’t fit in due to him being a lot poorer than the other two and he wants to make his own way in the world. Then finally we have Noah who is the most mysterious. He likes to pats Blue’s hair and doesn’t eat much.

I loved reading the characters interactions both between Blue and her family and The Raven Boys (Ronan in particular is very funny). I liked how the characters were dealing with real problems and issues and not just on a family friendly magical quest. I loved even more how even though there was a sense of a love story and brewing love triangle this was not the focus of the book. The only thing I can think of as a negative would be the power that Gansey had. It seems fruitless to complain about a lack of realism in a fantasy but it was slightly annoying what Gansey and his family money could do. I felt like at times his age could have got in the way when dealing with adults but that wasn’t the case.

Overall this for me was more what a young adult fantasy is supposed to be. The world of The Raven Cycle series is beautifully written, it is eccentric and unique and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book.

Rating: 4/5 stars