The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

the raven king

Book: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

This was perhaps my most anticipated read of this year, given the length of time that we have been waiting for this series conclusion and naturally with anticipation comes expectation. It’s been over a year between me reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue and this one and so naturally I had forgotten some things from Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but once I started reading this book, it was like everything fell into place again and it didn’t matter that it had been a long time since I read the previous book, it was quite easy to pick the story back up again. I was quite nervous reading this book because of the expectation that I had for it given the long wait, but I’m happy to say that it fulfilled my expectations and more. Sure I was still left with questions afterwards, but it wasn’t in an angry, OMG this book didn’t tell me anything kind of way, it was in an amazing, this book was fantastic but I need more way, which is the way I prefer to be left after reading! It’s going to be difficult to review this without spoilers but I’m going to try.

First off, the greatest thing about this book is the friendship between Blue and the boys. They have such a great friendship and I love seeing all of the different combinations, Blue/Adam, Blue/Ronan (I especially love these two, they have kind of a brother/sister relationship going, it’s great!), Blue/Gansey (though that is also romantic), Adam/Ronan (more about that later), Adam/Gansey & Ronan/Gansey, because all their friendships are so different, but I also love seeing the whole gang interact together, they have a great bond and it’s really heartwarming to see. I did feel that once again Noah was kind of left out in this book though, which was a shame as he was originally a part of the gang. The relationship between the women of 300 Fox Way is also brilliant and there is a very heartwarming scene with them in the bathroom talking about Blue’s college plans, which I loved for two reasons, one because their relationship is so beautiful and two because they don’t talk about college as the only option which I loved because it’s good to show teens that there are more life paths than just going to college.

I felt bad for Noah in this book, he was kind of sidelined as compared to the other characters and when he was involved it wasn’t exactly good for him, there was one scene with him that was very creepy, that I’m not sure I can talk about because spoilers and it was so heartbreaking to see. I wish he’d been involved a little bit more, but at the same time, it felt like he had played his part, Noah’s death and Gansey coming back to life all those years ago was kind of what started this whole thing, so in that way, he had already played his role in the series. Still, it would have been nice if he had been more involved in the conclusion.

Maggie Stiefvater’s writing was beautiful as ever, this combined with the nice mix of longer and shorter chapters and of course the amazing characters who I have come to love, meant that I flew through this book (that and the amazing weather that we’ve been having in Scotland the last couple of days, seriously, I read the second half of this book in two days flat!).

The romance in this book was pretty good, I liked that it was in the background, yet still there. I know that most Bluesy shippers will be talking about Bluesy but for me in shipping terms this book was all about the Pynch! There were some great Pynch scenes, including one that had me especially squeeing, but once again, I can’t say what it is because of damn spoilers! All I can say is that if you are a Pynch shipper, it’s something we’ve been waiting for and you will be very happy! Despite my main ship being Pynch however, I did still enjoy the Bluesy romance, it takes a skilled writer to make the chemistry between two characters seem palpable when the physical intimacy between them (they can’t kiss because of Blue’s curse) is limited.

This book was much darker and more creepy than the previous books in the series, yes they all have dark parts, but the tone in this one was decidedly darker. I liked it though, it felt really fitting for the book, a lighter tone would have seemed wrong.

There was something that confused me and I’m not sure if it’s a spoiler or not because when I read it, I was like, I thought we already knew that, but since it’s always better if you’re not sure if something’s a spoiler to not say it, I’ll just say that something about Ronan was revealed that I already knew and I’m not entirely sure if we were told in Ronan’s POV and the characters in the book weren’t (possible) or if I just worked it out. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it did confuse me for a moment or two.

There were a lot of secondary characters in this book and I was confused at first as to how all of these secondary characters fitted into the main story and was wondering why Maggie was wasting our time with these other characters, but I should have trusted that she knew what she was doing and eventually everything all tied together and the stories with Piper, Laumonier, Neeve and the demon all tied into the main story. It was also nice that in this book, the last book of the series, all of the players from the three previous books had a role, because they were all part of the story too.

I felt really bad for Ronan, he’s such a lovely person underneath his prickly exterior and a lot of bad stuff happens to him in this book, though I can’t really elaborate because once again spoilers. Still he had some lovely scenes with Adam and some great scenes with his family as well, it was nice to see him and Declan finally getting along and the whole passing over of the Barns thing was really great and in the end, it seemed like he was happy, which was great.

Henry Cheng plays a much larger role in this book, he kind of replaces Noah in a sense as the fifth Raven Boy and I wouldn’t have liked that but he turned out to be damn likeable! He was kind of like a more flashy version of Gansey which made their interactions very fun. The thing I liked most about him though is that he kind of seemed like a reflection of us as readers, wanting to be part of the gang, I found that really endearing and in the end he just wanted to help, I thought he was really sweet. I did not see the revelations about Henry Cheng coming though! His RoboBee was awesome, I would love to have a RoboBee and it was interesting to see the part that him and his RoboBee played in the conclusion of the story.

It felt like everything came together in this last book, all of the characters stories came full circle and whilst I was left with some questions after the book was done, there was also this great sense of circular completeness which I loved. I loved the whole “Depending on where you started, the story was about…..(insert character here)” thing because essentially this story was about all of these characters, not just Blue and the boys.

It was interesting to see Blue interact with her dad Artemus, even if he didn’t play a huge role in the book. Their interactions also shed some more light on Blue’s special amplifying powers and I appreciated that because it was something that I didn’t really understand in the last book, so it was nice to see it better explained here. I also appreciated that the two of them didn’t suddenly become best friends or anything in this book, they are essentially strangers to each other and I liked the way that their awkward relationship was done, it felt realistic.

I know that some people felt that the resolution of the Glendower storyline was not satisfactory (for spoilery reasons I cannot say why, this book is damn hard to review!), but to me it was perfect. In the end the story was not about Glendower, the story was about Gansey, Blue, Ronan and Adam and the resolution to the Glendower quest reflected that perfectly I think.

I feel like I can talk about the Gansey death scene without being spoilery because it’s been said from the beginning that Blue will kiss her true love (Gansey) and he will die. That happens. It was really well done I thought, beautiful, heartbreaking, simple and felt like the culmination of everything that we were building up to from the start. I had kind of anticipated what was going to happen afterwards so the scene did feel kind of anti-climactic but it didn’t change the fact that it was really well done and I was happy with the way things turned out.

I have read some reviews of people complaining about the end, there were questions left unasked, the end didn’t tell us enough and whilst I think that’s true (I’m very confused about the sleepers, I don’t really get who the three sleepers were for instance), I also think that the ending was perfect. Everything comes together perfectly and it all comes full circle and I felt satisfied. Satisfied about where these characters were headed, satisfied with who they were with, generally satisfied that they were all where they were supposed to be, that they all had future adventures ahead of them and most importantly that they were all still definitely going to be friends in the future.

The character development of the main characters over the series, especially Ronan and Adam was astounding, if you compare the characters in the first book to where they end in this one, they have all grown so much, both together and individually and it made me so happy to see that. I especially loved that Adam finally got closure with his family, that was one of the many markers of his character development from book one to here.

Overall, even though I’m left with unanswered questions, this last book was incredible. The writing was beautiful, the characters are incredible, the story was amazing, everything came full circle and it was just wonderful to behold. When it comes to ending the series, Maggie Stiefvater nailed it.

My Rating: 5/5

My next review will be of the first book in Derek Landy’s new horror series, Demon Road. I just started it today and I’m liking it so far.

 

 

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle 3) Review

Book: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Okay, since I haven’t reviewed this series of books for my blog before (I started my blog after I had read book 1 and book 2), I will give a brief rundown of the basic plot (but I will explain more as I go through). Basically it revolves around Blue Sargent (a girl from a family of psychics) who knows if she kisses her true love he will die. She sees the ghost of this boy at a church watch, and because she sees him she knows this is the not she’s going to kill. The boy is Richard Gansey III who is on quest to find an old welsh king Glendower, and along with his other friends from the elite private school Aglionby, Blue gets embroiled into this quest.

I didn’t like this book as much as the second one and it’s hard to put my finger on why. I guess it felt kind of fillery, since it’s the last one before they actually find Glendower in the final book, and I don’t know in places the book seemed a little slow and kind of lagging, although it did pick up towards the end. Compared to the previous book Dream Thieves this just didn’t seem quite as good. The plot was kind of muddled, there were random bits that didn’t seem to fit in, like Henry Cheng (a character introduced in the book) who didn’t seem to have much purpose although maybe he will in the next book. Also the court case with Adam’s dad and Adam (Adam is quite poor, he works to pay for Aglionby and I think he has a scholarship. He used to live in a caravan with his parents but his dad beat him really badly so now he lives in his own apartment above a church and was suing his dad), didn’t really fit, it only lasted one chapter and we never really got to find out what happened there.  I liked the Dream Thieves but it had been so long since I’d read it, and The Raven Boys that I found myself getting a little confused in places. I’m also not really sure what the point of that Greenmantle guy was, was he only there so his wife could help wake whatever was in the box in the cave? They didn’t even seem to make much progress in finding Glendower, so she’s going to have a lot of ground to cover in the next book. I’m hoping we see what was in that box in the next book.

I liked all the parts with Ronan and Adam in this book, they have a nice friendship going on and I do sense the possibility for more (at least as far as Ronan is concerned) with them even though I’m not sure Adam is interested in him in that way. These two seem to understand each other in a way that none of the other characters do and I liked that. If there was a romance between these two, and I don’t think there will be since there’s only one book left in the series, then I would be okay with it, quite happy even. Book two and three didn’t even seem to be that linked aside from the fact that Maura was missing, and she threw in some stuff with Blue’s dad but she didn’t really explore that relationship at all. Also I’m getting sort of tired of the back and forth between Gansey and Blue, they’re a cute enough couple but how many times can they almost kiss? At some point they are just going to have to rip off the band aid and do it and see what happens. After all we don’t know that it’s Blue’s kiss that’s going to kill Gansey, it could be something else. I also don’t really understand Blue’s powers, it’s said she’s a “mirror” and that she can amplify other people’s powers but Stiefvater doesn’t really explain how it works, almost expecting us to know, and I hope she will in the next book. I also liked that Blue and Ronan’s relationship was explored a little more in this book, because it certain ways they are quite similar, and I hope this continues more into the next book.

I felt like Noah was kind of a third wheel (or should that really be fifth since there are five of them?) in this book. I mean I know he’s dead and everything (he was murdered on a hunt for the ley line years ago, so he’s a ghost, his life was exchanged for Gansey’s who was dying at the same time-it’s quite complicated) but it just seemed like he popped up occasionally for no real purpose and then went away again, so I hope he has more of a purpose in the next book. I also don’t get what was with the tapestry with the women with Blue’s faces on it, so I hope that gets explained too. Steifvater’s writing is as always beautiful, there’s not really much you can find wrong with the way she writes, her descriptions are beautiful, and you really get a clear picture in your head of what’s going on.

Whereas the first book had Blue as the primary protagonist and the second had Ronan, this was much more of an ensemble, multiple POV type book which I don’t mind, when done well multiple POVs can be really good, but in this it just felt too jumpy and difficult to follow.

It was good to see Roger Malory (Gansey’s mentor) and all his little personalities quirks but again, I didn’t really see his point in this book either as he didn’t seem to do all that much, although maybe he will have a bigger role in the final book I’m not sure (it seems like I’m saying that a lot in this review!). The one character I did like who was introduced in this book was Jesse Dittley, the owner of the land which a cave they search for Glendower in is on. I loved the way that his big booming voice was emphasised with all his sentences in capitals and he just seemed like a genuinely nice character, and I enjoyed reading about him so I was quite sad with how his story turned out.

Also there was a death of a supposedly major character in this book, yet I felt more at the death of a character that had only just been introduced than at this one because there was barely enough of her in the books to form any sort of emotional bond to her. I also didn’t like that the book was quite repetitive-how many times does it need to be mentioned that Blue is short or that she eats yogurt or them asking if they really know someone or not, we don’t need to have these things repeated ten million times!

Greenmantle as a villian was very disappointing since he was a bit pathetic, being scared off by blackmail from some teenage boys and then running away at the first sign of danger. His wife Piper was better at being evil, but I just found their chapters quite boring and would be easy to skip if I was the sort to do that. I also find that considering Blue is supposed to be the main character, I prefer all of the boys over her. I think I might have liked this book better if it had been from her POV (I know that sounds strange when I just said I didn’t like her much!) so that I could really get inside her head a bit more and maybe understand her a little better.

The one thing they do find in this book is Glendower’s daughter Gwenllian. She was hands down the most annoying character in the book. She was always singing random things and not really doing anything to heel them and she just…..ugh annoyed me. Again I didn’t really see the point of her being there, because she doesn’t really do anything in this book, but since she’s Glendower’s daughter, she’ll probably have a bigger role in the next one. It’s a small thing, but I wish we had been told how her name is meant to be pronounced because it irks me that I don’t know how to pronounce it properly.

Adam’s character also gets developed more in this book which was nice, it was good to see him finally letting go of the whole proud thing and letting his friends help him and it was nice to see him growing into his role of helping Cabeswater (he made a bargain with this magical forest that is on a ley line-a line of energy basically, that he would do it’s work for it) and really making a contribution to the group. I also like that he’s not so obsessed with Blue now, as I said earlier, I would be quite pleased if Maggie expanded on Ronan and Adam’s relationship.

I do like that different combinations of characters in the group are all explored because it gives you a better idea of their relationships, in this book we had Blue/Gansey, Ronan/Adam, Adam/Gansey, Blue/Noah, Adam/Blue, Adam/Blue/Noah, Adam/Gansey/Ronan, and of course all of them together, but it’s nice to see them apart from the group and their interactions with each other when it’s not the five of them.

We also have an idea of what the quest entails now, with the three sleepers, one not to be woken, one to be woken and then the other one. The one not to be woken is the weird thing Piper and Neeve woke at the end of the book, I presume that the one to be woken is Glendower but I really want to know who the middle sleeper is and what’s going to happen there!

There’s much else I really have to say about it, since not all that much happened, I still love Ronan, I like Adam more, Blue was more awesome in this book but she’s still not my fave and I like Gansey but I don’t want to get to attached since I know he’s going to die. This book definitely suffers from “second book syndrome” which doesn’t really make sense since this is the third book of four, but what I mean is it’s like the middle book of a trilogy, which you have to go through to get to the finale but it’s not got all that much substance, the excitement is all being saved for the last book. I hope that’s what’s happening here because I like this book series and I want the last one to be truly amazing.

Don’t my not so good review of this book put you off the series though, it’s a good series with good, well thought out, believable characters and it is definitely well worth a read, if only for the fact that it’s a pretty unique series and I’m not sure where else you’d find one like this, I thoroughly recommend The Raven Boys (but for slightly older teenagers because there’s a lot of language and dark stuff in them) to anyone who likes magic and mystery in a story. I cannot wait to read the last book in this series and I hope it ties everything up in a satisfactory way (and that it’s slightly faster paced than this one).

On a final note, to anyone who’s read the book, who wishes that the murder squash song was real and that we could find the lyrics/hear it. I loved that song and how obsessed Ronan was with it because it showed his lighter, slightly more humourous side, also how it annoyed Gansey, it was hilarious!

My Rating: 3/5

The next book I will be reviewing is Stone Cold, the seventh book in the Young a Sherlock Holmes series by Andrew Lane (it will be a while longer before it’s up though as I’m not that far through yet!)