“The king sleeps still, under a mountain , and around him is assembled
his warriors and his herds and his riches. By his right hand is his cup,
filled with possibility. On his breast nestles his sword, waiting, too, to wake.
Fortunate is the soul who finds the king and is brave enough to call him to wakefulness, for the king will grant him a favour, as wondrous as can be imagined by a mortal man.” (The Raven Boys)
Anna’s rating: 4 stars (1 flag)
I haven’t read many YA books due to the fact that there tends to be the same storyline to most of these books. I recently got re-introduced to the genre with The Foxhole Court, and because I really enjoyed that series, I decided to try another of Tumblr’s favourites – The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.
Books in order: The Raven Boys || The Dream Thieves || Blue Lily, Lily Blue || The Raven King
It’s definitely got a different storyline from the usual girl-meets-boy in a story with x plot but-really-the-whole-reason-for-the-story-is-that-she-learns-something-about-herself-and-falls-in-love (bonus points if contains love triangle) – you know, the type of story that makes me roll my eyes and sigh from desperation.
Blue Sargent lives with her mother and several other women (some are cousins?) at 300 Fox Way. Blue is different because she isn’t a psychic like all the other women are. In fact, she would just be ordinary if it weren’t for the fact that she is an aid to the other psychics because she ‘increases the energy’ – which doesn’t change the fact that Blue still feels basically useless. But all of this is about to change when Blue meets Richard Gansey III and his friends from Aglionby Academy.
Gansey is searching for a Welsh king named Glendower. This king is sleeping, not dead, and he will grant a wish to whoever will wake him. Gansey’s friends Ronan Lynch, Adam Parrish, and Noah Czerny – as well as Blue – come along on the quest with him. Blue meets the boys when Adam asks her on a date, but falls in love with Gansey. However, there’s a catch – before she met Gansey, Blue learned that he was on a list of people to die. And Blue is fated to kill her true love when she kisses him (i.e. Gansey). Adam wants to use the wish to make sure Gansey doesn’t die. Ronan wants to use the wish to make sure his little brother Matthew doesn’t die. But other, more extreme, situations arise…
The Main Characters
Blue – she’s basically my idea of a perfect female character – adventurous, strong, knows what she wants but isn’t catty about it. (When an older man at a gas station tells her that she has nice legs, Blue gives him a big talking to and tells him what’s what.)
“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own” (The Raven Boys)
Gansey – the hot nerd (basically). He almost died and has PTSD with generalized anxiety.
“Gansey had always felt as if there were two of him: the Gansey who was in control, able to handle any situation, able to talk to anyone, and then, the other, more fragile Gansey, strung out and unsure, embarrassingly earnest, driven by naive longing. That second Gansey loomed inside him now, more than ever, and he didn’t like it” (The Raven Boys)
Adam – my sweet summer child. He comes from a home with abusive parents (though it takes him a while to realize it because of the mental manipulation). He works three jobs (at least?) so that he can go to school.
“Being the Magician isn’t about powerful when you have things and useless when you don’t,” Persephone said. “The Magician sees what is out there and finds connections. The Magician can make anything magical” (The Dream Thieves)
Ronan – (must be protected at all costs) A dreamer who brings back objects from his dreams. He acts all tough to hide how he’s hurting but is actually the softest??? He needs to watch his mouth, though.
“There are three kinds of secrets. One is the sort everyone knows about, the sort you need at least two people for. One to keep it. One to never know. The second is a harder king of secret: one you keep from yourself. Every day, thousands of confessions are kept from their would-be confessors, none of these people knowing that their never-admitted secrets all boil down to the same three words: I am afraid.
And then there is the third kind of secret, the most hidden kind. A secret no one knows about. Perhaps it was known once, but was taken to the grave. Or maybe it is a useless mystery, arcane and lonely, unfound because no one ever looked for it.
Sometimes, some rare times, a secret stays undiscovered because it is something too big for the mind to hold. It is too strange, too vast, too terrifying to contemplate.
Ronan Lynch lived with every sort of secret” (The Dream Thieves)
Noah – the friendliest ghost boy who didn’t deserve to die. (He died when Gansey almost did – their lives sort of switched for each other.)
“He shrugged, eyes doleful, shoulders curled in on themselves. He was fading. It wasn’t that she could see through him. It was that it was hard to remember what he looked like, even while she was looking at him. When he turned his head, she saw him swallow. He mumbled, ‘I’d ask you out, if I was alive.'” (The Dream Thieves)
The Gray Man – he’s not a main character, but I really love him because he reads and speaks Old English. He’s an ex- (sort of) murderer who falls in love with Blue’s mom and turns away from the dark side.
“A coward’s heart is no prize, but the man of valor deserves his shining helmet” (Blue Lily, Lily Blue)
Henry Cheng (mostly book 4) – a ball of sunshine. He seems like the class joker who only wants to listen to K-pop and play video games, but he’s pretty smart and loyal when you get to know him.
“You’re very well-spoken for a kid your age, Milo had added. […] But it wasn’t that Henry was less of himself in English. He was less of himself out loud. His native language was thought” (The Raven King)
My Thoughts on the Book Itself
“To dine in fairyland was to be forced to stay there forever or to pine for it once you left, and all that” (The Raven King)
I really like the multiple perspectives on the book while still being in third person – from the teenagers, like Blue and Ronan, to the adults in Blue’s life, to even the villains themselves (big bonus!!!). I love getting in character’s heads, whether they are good or villainous (especially if they are villainous and still stay that way). There’s plenty of Latin and Old English and mythology that reminds me of those medieval texts in which the author would cite from as many sources as possible to make himself look smart. Maggie therefore creates a series that is sophisticated but also so new and ingenious in its own way. It’s obvious that the books are well-researched.
Maggie writes in a way that makes me really happy – with intricate word structure and word play that reminds me of Shakespeare. This series makes me really happy because it’s not only interesting, but it’s written very well. It contains plenty of quotes that had me underlining pretty frequently (more than I have in any book since The Book Thief). One thing that I would mention as a weaker point – it may just be that I am a very fast reader, but there are several points in the book when it’s a little difficult for me to understand how the story went from Point A to Point D. But I guess that could be the dreamy element of the books – in dreams, events are sometimes disjointed, too. From reading reviews on Goodreads, other readers’ opinions tend to range from amazing writing to I loved the plot but what the heck is going on with this writing style? The characters are very multi-dimensional, there’s so many twists and turns in the plots that I would never see coming… and what more can I say?? I just really love these books. While the last book, The Raven King, is definitely my favourite because it just blew me away, my second favourite would be book #2, The Dream Thieves, which focuses on Ronan and his dreams – just giving a really interesting perspective and clever plot.
I would give this series one flag for some language and some hints of sexual content (especially in book 2 due to the existence of a character named Joseph Kavinsky who I really despise and would just like to forget about). Another thing to mention is that in book 4, Adam and Ronan get together, although there’s not much mention of it (in fact, it’s another of those parts of the story where Point A and D don’t quite match up – unless I hadn’t seen it as a spoiler on tumblr, I wouldn’t have seen it coming at all).
Some reviews from Goodreads to top it all off:
Maxwell (5-star review): Perfect writing It’s almost frightening how accurately the writing fits the mood of this book. It’s dreamy and magical and moody, but still very real and honest and grounded in reality. How she manages to combine to polar opposite things in such a well-executed way baffles me. Ex: “She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.”
The most unique plot. Talking trees in a magical wood, dead Welsh kings, and fast orange cars. But it’s set in rural Virginia in the present day, and it’s all tackled by sixteen and seventeen-year-old students and psychic women.
Destini Mia (5-star review): This book would be amazing just on the basis that it features an exclusive look at one of the most enigmatic characters in the series [Ronan]. Although, that isn’t saying much seeing as all the characters are onions of mystery. However, Maggie Stiefvater is a gifted storyteller, and amazing characterization isn’t all you will get.
Simona Bartoletta (4-star rating): The writing- oh, I really don’t think I have to repeat it. It’s music. Pure melody. Ear candy, and deep in meaning. Even though, in my opinion, when it comes to conveying the finesse and the subtleties of the characters, and mostly of their emotions and thoughts, through the writing, the more remarkable proof of Maggie Stiefvater’s ability is and remains The Raven Boys. There, every feeling truly, and almost painfully at that, felt like a process that each character had to go through before landing to the finished emotion. Here, it happens too, yes, but not at that level. Yet, Maggie Stiefvater is an astouding [sic] writer, and she demonstrates it plenty of times and in many occasions -like in that epilogue, when she sent my heart from 70 to 200 with a single, almost casual sentence…
And to finish off, here are some quotes I really loved from the series (and perhaps a dusting of graphics to polish off)…
“Gansey longed for him like Arthur longed for the Grail, drawn by a desperate but nebulous need to be useless to the world, to make sure his life meant something beyond champagne parties and white collars, by some complicated longing to settle and argument that waged deep inside himself” (x)
“Once Arthur knew the grail existed, how could he not look for it?” (The Raven Boys)
“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” (Blue Lily, Lily Blue)
“But now that they were to it, Ronan wasn’t sure he wanted to be on the other side. So many days on a pew with his knuckles pressed to his forehead, silently asking what am I am I the only one what does this mean —” (The Raven King)
“Adam smiled cheerily. Ronan would start wars and burn cities for that true smile, elastic and amiable” (The Raven King)