The Raven King Book Review

theravenkingTitle: The Raven King
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 438
Format: Purchased Hardcover (early release April 24th)

Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a life; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

In its starred review of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the previous book in The Raven Cycle, Kirkus Reviews said, “Exepect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close.” The thunder has now arrived in Henrietta, Virginia – along with death, desire, revelation, and a brutal truth. With The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater completes a masterpiece.

As this is a sequel there may be spoilers!

Oh my heart. Oh. My. Heart. This finale to The Raven Cycle was everything I could have expected and more with twists, turns, heartbreak, joyous moments, friendship, and so much more.

The book continues right where it was left off in the previous book, where everyone is trying to figure out what to do next and how to find Glendower, but there’s something more going on behind the scenes: Cabeswater is dying.

Actually, infested is more the word I’m looking for, but when the gang discovers black goo oozing from a tree in the forest one day they now add that to the pile of problems on their list. The story follows them trying to figure out how to fix Cabeswater – to save it – but to also figure out if there’s any alternative to saving Gansey, and what it means for Adam who’s so connected to Cabeswater, and for Ronan who’s dreamt up so much, and for Blue to have to deal with who she is and what she’s going to do once so many things come to pass.

Gansey is ever optimistic in his search, but the threads of his composure of who is built himself up to be over the past seven years is really starting to unravel, but in a good way. He’s become a lot more excitable and shows more emotion than his polite self. In this he discovers a few things about himself that he knows he can’t deny: that he loves Blue, and that he’s going to die before April. And he’s scared of the latter. He becomes more open to relationships and faces his fears and he’s so much more of a new Gansey in this book that it made me fall in love with him even more. He was passionate and heartbroken and kingly.

Adam is not himself so much in this novel because of how Cabeswater is struggling and how it affects him, and then the demon thing? Yeah, that’s not good. There were actually a lot of parts in this book that creeped me out so much during Adam’s parts that I could feel my heart racing. There were elements in his sections of the story that were truly terrifying and I thought that, though he tried his best, I know that he still struggles with identifying who he is and what it means to be Adam. He also deals a lot with the emotions of his heart and I love how he deals with them and how he accepts it and it’s beautiful. Oh man. He was a surprising player throughout this story because at the very beginning I didn’t like him much at all, but as the series progressed, sure I got angry at him sometimes, but he grew on me just like Cabeswater did on him. He surprised me in more ways than one, for sure.

Ronan. Oh my dear, Ronan, you were just so amazing in this book. We actually got to see EMOTIONS from him that weren’t anger or forced falsehoods. We got to see him struggle internally with things, we got to see him struggle with his dreams, and, I think most importantly, we got to see just how far the depths of his love for his friends and family goes. He isn’t so much hellbent on revenge in this book, but he definitely shows a lot more concern for the wellbeing of those around him over time, and I think it was a major changing point for him. Plus, he acted on his feelings for Adam and it was beautiful and glorious and I SQUEED LIKE THE FANGIRL THAT I AM. Oh man. But besides that, Ronan had to deal with several traumatic things in this book that made my heart break for him. I’ve loved Ronan since the beginning of the series, and he definitely made my heart swell so much in this last book.

Blue was as much an enigma in this book as the last ones, but I think she grew so much in this story and learned so much about herself that I feel that she is one of the brightest stars in this book. During her perspectives, things seemed to click so much more not only about who she is and what she believes in and loves, but also about many other aspects of the Raven Boys – her Raven Boys – and just how they all function together as a unit. She learns so much about herself and who – and even what – she is that it’s a revelation and she revels in it and it sinks deep down within her. I thought that she was, once again, very strong through a lot of what was going on and that she continued to charm and frustrate all the way through, as was her nature.

We didn’t see much of Noah, but what we did see broke my heart and made me very fearful for him. And at the end… oh man. I almost cried, I think. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.

I love what Maggie did from the middle-ish to the end where she would start a chapter with, “Depending on where you began the story…” And each chapter would focus on a minor character, but how significant they were in that moment in time was incredible because it would show snippets of that time in the story that would also propel the main crew into action and I thought that they didn’t take away from the story or were filler at all. I actually loved these chapters quite a lot because we got to see Neeve, Piper, the Gray Man, Seondeok, and even Cabeswater through it all.

We also got introduced to Henry Cheng much more in this book and, though I was skeptical of him at first, I fell in love with him just as much as I had with the original group. He was so charming and funny and honest. I think that’s what I liked most about him, was his honesty. He didn’t try to hide who he was, and all along he wanted a real friendship, which he got.

And the romance! Let’s just talk about the romance that blossomed in this book, okay? OH. MAN. Pynch is a thing. And it was beautiful. And yes, there were many giggles that were had. And of course the kiss between Blue and Gansey came because we knew it was going to from the start, and yes that was an extremely sad part, but ugh. I love them.

This book and series overall was something magical and wonderful and I highly appreciated it. It was haunting, beautiful, tragic, and fun. I think it’s definitely made its way up into my top five favorite series. Possibly. Definitely in my top ten.

I highly, highly recommend this book and I give it a 5/5 stars.

My overall series rating: 4.75/5 stars.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue Book Review

bluelilylilyblueTitle: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal
Pages: 391
Format: Purchased Paperback

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.

As this is a sequel, there may be spoilers!

Trying to get my thoughts together for this one is proving to be a serious challenge right now. I loved it – truly – but I don’t know if it was worthy of five stars? I think I’m still digesting it.

This third book was so vastly different from the last, but at the same time not that I feel like I may have missed something or I didn’t let it soak in. Maybe Cabeswater is affecting me, too?

The plot in this story grew and flowed continuously from the second book, following Adam, Gansey, Ronan, Blue, and Noah as they continue their search for Glendower, but there’s so much going on behind the scenes with Maura’s disappearance, with threats from outside sources, with Cabeswater wanting to speak to them with urgency, and with three sleepers: one to wake, one not to wake, and on in between.

I think that the concept for this series is fantastic and I loved how it was delivered in this book. Each of the characters continued to play their major roles and were learning more and more about themselves and each other, even when they felt that they didn’t know anything about one another.

Blue, I think, is really coming out of her shell and showing the boys that she’s capable of so much more than what she seems, and I think that she learns that about herself as well in this book. She does have a bit of an anger problem still (which I still don’t know how/where it stems from in situations?), and they reflect on the others around her, and either the boys understand and diffuse the situation, or sometimes things escalate too far. I felt that she really tried to take the initiative a lot more in multiple ways in this novel, from seeking out trying to find out where Glendower is, to the budding romance between her and Gansey, to trying to save her mother. There’s so much more beneath the surface of her and I love her for that. Blue really got a handle on her powers in this book in many instances and I thought that that showed great progression for her.

Gansey had a lot more inner turmoil when it came to Blue and I think a lot of his walls were let down around her, which made him much less uniform and polite and more wild and young. He felt more genuine in those moments, which I highly appreciated. He tries his best in many situations in this book to remember his stance in his relationships, for sure, but I think we also learn a few things about him that may not have been present in the past books: he does have fears. I was surprised when I read these parts, but when I did they felt so real and genuine that I couldn’t help but feel for him. I think he, like Blue, is really coming out of his shell and showing many different facets of himself and who he is.

Adam grows the most out of anyone given the situation he thrust himself into, but also because of what happens around him and how he can’t ignore it. Cabeswater calls to him in many ways and when he ignores it, it doesn’t end well for him. I think that he definitely grows in this book as he learns more about his powers, himself, and what kinds of things he can do with and through Cabeswater. He’s stronger than he lets himself on to be, and though it may not be totally evident, it is seen in small pieces in different situations such as when he scrys, or when he faces his father at the courthouse (by the way, did he win that case?).

Ronan is Ronan, though and through, and I wish we had perspectives from him in this book. He was in a lot of scenes, don’t get me wrong, but he didn’t directly have any sort of chapter from his perspective alone. I will say, though, that I feel like he’s getting to be a little softer? As in, he may still be his kind of jerkish self, but he’s also showing more care for his friends (and that little bit of feelings for a certain someone, though nothing’s been spoken aloud). He’s vengeful, but doesn’t act on it; he’s protective over his friends and Chainsaw; and he knows his limitations. I just love him, honestly.

Noah, though present in this book, didn’t have as much presence as the last book. There was a lot going on with him in this book, though, that was caused from the ley lines and the powers around Henrietta. A lot of times it was kind of creepy what was happening to him, and a bit unsettling, but eventually things became a bit more steady for him and how he acted.

The romance is there, it is. And that one scene was so intense and intimate and oh man, I just wish they could kiss, but death is imminent, and ahhhhh. It makes me sad, but also happy?

And then there’s things that happen with other characters, like The Gray Man, Greenmantle, Malory, Jesse, Persephone… Oh man, so many emotions.

The overall plot of the three sleepers was an interesting take in this book and I think it was part anti-climatic and part brilliant because the one who was in between seemed like the anti-climactic bit, while the one who was to be awake was kind of really entertaining, and then the one who’s not supposed to wake? Oh man, I’m interested to see how that plays out in the last book. It’s definitely going to lead up to it.

This book definitely had a lot going on and though my brain is still trying to wrap around it, I can say that I really enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite. I do still think that it has a lot of story behind it and a lot that was learned and lot that will unfurl in the last book, though.

I rate this book 4/5 stars and highly recommend it.

The Dream Thieves Book Review

thedreamthievesTitle: The Dream Thieves
Series: Book #2 in The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Steifvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 437
Format: Gifted Paperback

If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?

Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.

One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.

And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys – a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface – changing everything in its wake.

As this is a sequel there may be spoilers!

This book, guys. This book was amazing. From the way the setting is detailed to the anxious feelings of the characters, to the mysteries underlying it all, this book was spectacular.

The plot of this book mainly focuses on dreams and mostly from the perspective of Ronan, the wild card of the Raven Boys group. He’s often pretty rowdy and mean, even if he likes the person, but that’s just the way he is. And there’s really no difference in this novel even when the perspective is from him.

As it starts, the book talks a lot more in depth about dreams and just how Ronan is able to conjure things from his dreams and bring them into reality. They might be just slightly skewed from the dream world, but he otherwise brings almost perfect replicas of whatever it is he wants most in his dreams to real life. At first, no one 100% believes him, until he brings something back, and then it’s like that wasn’t the strangest thing they had seen all day.

But not only do we get an explanation of dreams and how Ronan is able to conjure these things, we get a much wider look into his life when his father was alive and how his father also had the gift. We also learned so much more about his family that I guessed some things and, sure enough, I was right. It shocked me to know that I was right because some part of me was hoping I was wrong, but at the same time it’s amazing to think how one person could conjure up so much in their lifetime.

Aside from Ronan’s life and perspective, the book does follow the other characters are well, as well as a new person: The Gray Man. Now, the Gray Man is, well, inherently gray. From the clothes he wears to his intense gray eyes, he is just an embodiment of the word and color gray. He’s also a hit man and his current job is to find the Graywaren – an object that can help bring things out of people’s dreams. He doesn’t know that the Graywaren is a person, though, and so he goes around Henrietta trying to find it.

And along the way he goes to visit the home of Blue’s family, where he meets Calla, Persephone, and Maura, and has a very lovely and interesting encounter with Maura. I actually really like those two together; they just seem to balance one another out well.

Then there was Kavinsky, who I really didn’t like, but also couldn’t help like at the same time. He was an extremely bad person in some ways and very much like an open flame: unyielding and untamed. And the fact that he, too, also has the same gift as Ronan shocked me! I didn’t think that it would be outside of Ronan’s family, but then again, why shouldn’t there be others with the same ability? And even though he did help out Ronan to really discover the potential in taking from the dream world, he was just too unpredictable.

Though he did point out something pretty awesome about Ronan near the end there and I nearly died. Oh man.

I grew to appreciate Gansey and Adam more because in the first book, I couldn’t understand the hype around Gansey – why does everyone love him? – and I just kind of thought Adam was up to no good. But this book, from the perspectives of Blue and Ronan, as well as Adam and Gansey themselves, showed more of who they are to their cores and I really appreciated those aspects of them. And now I find myself rather attached not only to them, but all of the characters.

As far as the plot goes, the underlying mystery and search for Glendower continues as the group discovers more mysterious objects from Glendower’s time and how they discover more about the ley line and why it’s acting funny and disappearing. I love how Steifvater is able to weave all of their individual stories together to bring everything out into the light slowly over time. She definitely has a way with words in this series.

And as far as the other characters go, I feel like they are each coming into their own and realizations of who they are as people is drawing on them. They are each realizing their destinies, in a way, and I think that that is a truly beautiful thing. Every one of them brings out something in the other, whether it be good or bad, but I think that those times really help to show just who they are on the inside, which is most important of all.

Of course, the book isn’t without its faults with some slow points or parts that sometimes felt just a little out of place, and a few typos here and there, but otherwise I was so wrapped up in the story itself to notice anything else wrong with it.

Overall, I loved this book. I thought that the writing was exquisite and that everything about the plot and the discoveries of the characters’ personalities was really well put together – especially at the end where I literally gasped out loud to some things and stopped breathing for others.

I rate this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it after you read The Raven Boys.

The Raven Boys Book Review

theravenboysTitle: The Raven Boys
Series: Book 1 in The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal
Pages: 408
Format: Gifted Paperback

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. 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.

This first installment of this series was, in my opinion, amazing. I thought that the premise of it being about psychics and some huge mystery was actually very unique and exciting. In fact, I didn’t think I would like it as much as I did for some reason, and I’m not sure why.

I thought that the plot itself was driven by the characters and their actions, but also just by the sheer fact that they exist in the universe that they exist in. It’s hard to explain, really, but I thought that the plot kept moving forward, even though some of the slow times, as if those times were purposeful and meant to be there.

At the end of each chapter I wanted to continue to flip the page, to find out more, to have answers to my unanswered questions. I just feel like the plot really delivered, and I think a huge part of that had to do with the characters.

When I first read about Blue, I thought that she was just… different. She, herself, was unique in this unique setting, and I found it to be entertaining where she lived and who she lived with. Her personality was subtle, a little sheltered, but still one that was down to earth and in control of her emotions. She understood more than what many might not, especially given the circumstances for which things were happening. She was strong, but not overpowering, and I thought that she was actually kind of cool in her own way.

Gansey was super formal and tried too hard to please others, I think. He always had a mask on and would only let it slip on occasion, so I’m really interested to see how much that mask falls off later down the road. And even though he was the “leader” of the Raven Boys group, he didn’t really act like he had all of the power and the most money; he was just trying to be helpful. I think part of his personality bordered on innocent, while the rest bordered on, well, an excited teenaged boy on an adventure. I think that he’ll definitely grow in the future books and I’m intrigued to see what happens with him next.

Ronan was the badass of the group, and rightfully so. His whole posture and demeanor screamed “troubled teen,” but he also surprised me in more ways than one. Not only was he a badass with daddy and sibling issues, he also holds dark secrets and he has a soft side. I mean, what more can you ask for? Frankly, I just want to be his friend because he proved himself more than just once in this book that he cares greatly for his friends, even if he doesn’t always show it.

Adam was like the outsider of the group – the one who was raised in a different situation than the rest of the boys – but I think that really humbled him. He was kind and generous, but he also had a lot of moments where his pride took over. I thought that he was trying so hard to be so strong, when really, he was crumbling on the inside. I am interested to see if certain events take place and how he pans out as a character, but so far I like him.

Noah was the super quiet, mysterious one, that you almost forget is that. And, hell, that’s how he’s even described as in the book! I figured out who he was a few chapters before it was found out, and I loved that whole mystery around him. I think that he adds a definite calming aura for the group, as well as just a little bit of light when it’s needed. I hope there will be more of him in the future because he just seems like one of those characters you can’t help but love.

There were also the side characters of Maura, Persephone, and Calla, who were all fun and witty and each their own person and I liked greatly, as well as Neeve, who was mysterious and creepy. And then there was Whelk, who, well… I didn’t really like. I wonder what will happen in future books with some of these characters?

So, all in all, I really loved this book. I only I had a few problems, which were a few typos and the big resounding question of why anyone is actually going along with these things that take place without asking more questions, but alas, maybe those questions will be answered later on, or maybe they won’t. But overall, I think that this was a really enjoyable read and I would recommend this to those who love paranormal, mystery, and books that keep you wanting to turn the page.

I give this book a 4.5/5 stars.