So it’s been a while since I’ve written up a review but, trust me, that hasn’t been because of a lack of reading. I have been reading lots, but with that I have also been getting back into writing, and studying Japanese and, well, getting my life back on track, and I had to get myself completely out of the habit of thinking that blogging had to come first. It took me a while to stop feeling bad about the books I needed to review but what matters is that I’ll get there in the end!
However, I finished a book this morning (book 3 in the series, book 4 isn’t out yet) and I knew that I couldn’t in all good conscience not review the series so far asap. I won’t be reviewing each book separately because I read all three consecutively and I am more than likely to forget what happened or who did what in which book. So instead you get the Raven Cycle, books 1, 2, and 3 reviewed all at once.
To start with I have a bone to pick with the back cover blurb for the first book The Raven Boys. It’s one of the single most inaccurate book blurb I have ever been given to read, and I feel that it gives the complete wrong impression of what the book is about. I didn’t pick up this book for years because of the back cover blurb. It sounded like it was going to be a love story and it would all revolve around the fact the main character is cursed.
Let’s just say this isn’t even touching a fragment of what The Raven Cycle is about.
I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that the book is multi POVs, with most of them being boys (who’d have guessed THAT from the back cover blurb, eh?). The love story, although present same as the curse, does not play a major part in the plot at all. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good love story, I love romance and if there is no romance in a book I will probably miss it. I love romance because I love relationships in between people and this is just one of the many ways relationships can develop. What I don’t particularly like are love stories that are doomed from the start because of one of the parties being cursed. But in this book, even when the love story comes into play, this somehow manages not to matter.
The story itself is absolutely freaking fantastic. Our main characters are Blue, the only non-psychic in a family of psychics, and a group of friends who will become her Raven boys as the story progresses: Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. The story focusses on the boy’s (and Blue’s) search for a mythical Welsh king believed to be asleep in his tomb somewhere on the Ley Line that crosses through the small town of Henrietta. I won’t go into any more details because the books are full of surprises and twists and turns. But the plot is intricately written and both awes and surprises in turn. There is a lot more magic within the pages of these books than you might at first assume.
I love the way the characters are written: everyone is so deep and fleshed out that it’s a pleasure to read them, and it’s impossible to not become emotionally attached to the cast. With the main characters all around the age of 17, they are all changing, learning, and becoming more of themselves. They are all also aware of that, and of the fact that each other are changing, and they must learn to readjust they relationship to fit the new circumstances. But their friendship is what remains fast, no matter what is thrown their way.
Ronan was especially a character that stood out to me: he’s all sharp angles and unrestrained anger. He’s blunt and doesn’t care what others think or feel. But he also never lies. He would also do anything for his friends. I loved the fact that this angular boy who could so easily act like an asshole was also the dreamer (it’ll make sense when you read the books, I promise). I also loved the fact that Ronan is gay, and that the fact of it is treated so, normally. Even Ronan himself, for all his issues, doesn’t grapple with that fact. I just freaking loved Ronan as a character.
Hell, I loved them all. I could understand so well where Gansey was coming from at points, understood so well his struggle with understanding those that aren’t as privileged as him. I wanted to throttle Adam for his misplaced pride and yet I loved him all the same. And Noah…oh Noah. His story is both so tragic and beautiful and a lesson on what being alive really is.
Maggie Stiefvater’s prose is one of the most poetic I’ve read in a while. She weaves words like a poet and adds a layer of magic to the world through her words. There is something beautifully whimsical about the writing, almost, but not quite, like a grown up fairy tale. It’s effortless and elegant and it completely enchanted me.
These books literally enchanted me and it was all I could do to turn off the audiobook whenever it was time to stop (on that note, the reader for the audiobook is actually really, really good) and I definitely felt a bond being created in between me and the characters as we went through the story. There were many heart attacks and biting my nails sort of situations, and moments where I just couldn’t figure out how what they were doing could possibly NOT go wrong. But what was extra fantastic was that no one acted stupidly or out of character at any point in ways where some stories have things happen just to up the tension.
These books were so so good, I cannot recommend them enough. And trust me, it doesn’t matter if you normally read YA or not, if you like mysteries and magic and wonderful characters, you’ll like this series. Sod the YA tag, this book is for EVERYONE. Because it’s such an amazing story that no one should miss out on it just because they assume they’re too old for it. We’re never too old for a good, well written story full of wonderful characters. Never.
So if you haven’t already, go pick up/borrow The Raven Boys and let yourself begin the search for Glendower!