Ah, The Raven Cycle, a series I’ve visited quite a few times. To date, I’ve never been able to finish this pesky series, and I’ve never really known why. In an effort to find out, let’s take a look back to the very first time I picked up Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.
This is one of those series that delivered itself, in a neatly wrapped package topped with a bow, to the top of my TBR list, courtesy of social media and stellar reviews. I was starting to feel that in order to keep my reputation of being a bibliophile intact, I had to read this series.
Around a year ago, I started to read the Raven Cycle series. This first book did not disappoint, and I have never once faltered in this opinion during my re-read. However, the second book posed more of a challenge. I could not get into it for the life of me and over time, I gradually came to except that it was never going to happen. We were syrup and waffles, reader and book. Two things many firmly believe ought to be together, but I just couldn’t stomach.
Time passed, and somehow, the mysterious and mystic Raven Cycle series was yet again in my hands, waiting to be read. I gritted my teeth, this time determined to finish this series and know, once and for all, if it really was worth all the hype. This time, fueled by determination and, I’ll admit, more than a little love for Maggie Stiefvater’s writing, I made it through the first two books. Unfortunately, this is where I came to a halting stop; I was unable to get into the third book. The last half of the second had taken too much energy and I was ready to go back to a more enjoyable read. I’m hoping this isn’t where it ends for me, halfway through the adventure that encompasses the raven boys. I loved the first book so much, a part of me sincerely hopes the Raven Boys will prevail. Here’s to just about the longest intro ever, so without further ado, my review on book #1 in the Raven Cycle Series.
First off, the descriptions in this book blew me away. I actually started looking for elite boarding schools I could join, or googling pictures of Henrietta, Virginia just to see if I could experience even a crumb of its beauty through the computer screen. Maggie Stiefvater picked me up and took me to a world I never wanted to leave. It was full of magic and mystery, freedom and friends. Her world building was phenomenal and intricate, more tightly woven than… whatever the weaver wove from all her human hair.
It wasn’t an all-at-once information dump, but instead falling into Stiefvater’s version of Henrietta was slow and sweet, filled with excellently timed elements she used to introduce her characters. My love for the cast was strong and determined from the beginning. The raven boys were simply irresistible with their unorthodox spirits and character arcs. Gansey is the embodiment of every teenage dream: smooth, sweet, and swoon-worthy. Blue is the true essence of confidence in oneself and following one’s intuition. Adam is a workaholic with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Ronan is, well, sharp. Noah is a pumpkin, sweet, but not always around. These characters make up the heart and soul of the book. Their character development is so exquisitely detailed, it’s hard not to fall in love with them all. The only character who I feel needs more representation in this department is Noah. Out of the entire group of friends I felt like I knew Noah the least. Additionally, I felt like the pages were lacking some quality Orla time as well. Even though she is only a supporting character, she should have a more solid foundation than a paper thin (haha) personality and background. The POV switches were done tastefully and were artfully incorporated into the overall plot, adding depth to the story instead of length to the page count. The book was, by the way, a very enjoyable length, an easy read for a few days.
What differentiates this book from most YA novels, in my opinion, is the romance. It doesn’t strangle the plot but instead adds a realistic flare as Blue negotiates the rollercoaster most teenagers face in their adolescence. Her relationship is not overpowering in a way that deters the course of the book or portrays young girls as desperate and obsessive. Instead, we see her enter and exit a myriad of emotions as she juggles her pre-held accusations, surprising desires, and the fear that comes with her own giddy innocence. not to mention the prophecy that predicts her lover’s death, all while withholding her own values and goals. It’s truly an impressively balanced book, romance-wise. With that said, I would’ve liked to have seen a deeper emotional understanding of the relationship. The events that Blue and her troupe faced were monumental and very intense for such young characters. In response, it would’ve been more realistic if we had seen how these actions and decisions truly affected the thought processes of them. Every action has an effect, no matter how small, and I would’ve loved to have seen how that played into the decisions and anxiety Blue feels later on.
One thing I did find unrealistic, however, was the amount of freedom the main characters had to tramps around with. Adult supervision is almost nonexistent, which may be appropriate in some cases due to the fact that Gansey, Ronan, and Noah live on their own. Still, the overall lack of guidance is extremely underdone.
All in all, TheRaven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is a thrilling, mystical tale with a wise and witty tone behind it. I definitely recommend giving the series a try! And if you’ve already read the book… does anyone else really want to know a real-life Persephone, too? She seems like such a neat and eccentric person I’d love to have a conversation with! Nope? Just me? Okay. Anywho, 5 out of 5 stars!!