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: Shadow and Bone By Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

My thoughts..

This book for me was an exceptionally easy to read – I ploughed through the entire thing in about 4 hours. I did not want to put it down. It has all the typical elements of a ya fantasy but there’s enough depth and world building to make this book a little something more. However I felt like the book was TOO stereotypical in some aspects and the plot didn’t really surprise me, particularly the ending which I felt was a bit obvious. I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t love it either.

The main character is Alina who grew up an orphan and at the start of this book has joined the Army with her best friend from the orphanage Mal. Alina is described as being spotty, too skinny with mousy brown hair. She does not think of herself as pretty. Apart from her slight obsession with her looks and other people’s, and that she has feelings for Mal but is attracted to the Darkling there’s not much else you get to know. Mal was also an orphan who grew up to be really handsome and kind of a ladies man. Mal is popular while Alina was not and in the Army he is a tracker, one of the best if not THE best and again that’s all I really know. See a pattern? Mal and Alina’s main personality traits seem to be their feelings for one another.

The Darkling on the other hand was by FAR the most interesting character. It’s such a cliche to be into the whole dark and deadly thing but I don’t care. The Darkling has his own plans and motivations but I think the most interesting thing for me was he falls into a morally grey area. He’s bad but with good intentions. He was the only character for me with any real complexity and his characterisation makes the book more than just another ya fantasy.

One of the main things I didn’t understand was why this book bothered to take inspiration from Russian culture at all? Apart from the occasional word I couldn’t pronounce I felt like this book had very little to do with Russia. I think this book should have committed properly to the influences of Russian Culture or abandoned the theme entirely. Sprinkling the book with occasional Russian words felt like a bit of a lame attempt to make the book stand out.

That said Leigh Bardugo’s writing style was engaging and I think for a ya fantasy it’s not bad. Hopefully in the next books Alina and Mal grow more as characters and I get to see a whole lot more of the Darkling.

Rating: 3/5 stars