The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
SOOOOO I have read a ton of books but not written many reviews, so I’m going to write four reviews in one… one review of a series of four books.
Also, as I listened to this series as an audiobook, chances are I will spell something wrong so I apologise in advance, though I read all the blurbs and have hopefully learned more about the spelling 😉
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is 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 has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, 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 never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
(Blurb of book one, The Raven Boys, from Goodreads)
Okay so after reading that blurb I am VERY surprised to discover that “Aglenby” (as I thought it should be spelled) is actually “Aglionby,” so that just goes to show one of the (few) downsides of listening to audiobooks.
Today I’m going to do it a bit differently and write little sections of the two main aspects of the series I liked:
Firstly, characters, and secondly, relationships between the characters. While the plot was also interesting, these were a couple of the things that made The Raven Cycle especially good.
Here follows a list of the five main characters, and one of my other favourites. Do feel free to skip through, I realise this is really long (sorry!) so I’ll write a summary at the end of each section
She’s the first character the reader meets, and although I wasn’t sure what to think of her at first she has grown on me. Her reactions to different scenarios change throughout the series, like how she feels towards the Raven Boys once she gets to know them. I love how her life is so different from Gansey’s, and yet their friendship still works, as they change each others’ world views and understandings of different lifestyles (and I won’t lie Blue definitely taught me a lot about what it’s like to live in a psychic household…)
I loooooved Adam’s character arc. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say his dreams changed from ambitious and frankly a bit defensive and intrusive. In the beginning, he didn’t accept help from anyone and didn’t treat his friends as kindly as he could have because of pride and potentially not wanting to hurt them, but later on, he became closer and more open about things that people could help him with. While he still kept some secrets, we all do, and I think his character flaws (if you could call them flaws?) were very well done and made Adam a lot more real to me than he would have been without.
In the later books, Adam’s sacrifice to Cabeswater added a whole new dimension to him, while of course helped the plot but also moved his character arc on. I enjoyed how he and Capeswater worked together, and how they had communication barriers to work around, which was funny in some instances and scary the next.
The “rich friend” character but with a bit of a twist: he is completely devoted to finding the ancient Welsh king, Glendower (or Glendŵr) who was actually a real guy! While he first appeared to Blue to be pretentious and condescending, he was not consciously being so, it was just how he was raised. While his life is centred around Welsh kings and mysterious magical Things, he also loves his car, has a life-threatening allergy and cares so much about his friends. I’m glad he had these other angles to his personality and character because I did feel as if he was a real guy I knew.
Whoops, I nearly forgot about him… while he is still friends with the rest, his personality is not as well developed, but of course, there’s a reason…
It was a very cool idea to have him as a ghost, it surprised me but I liked how he was just a bit weird sometimes. And his ending (saying the “someone has died on the ley line when they shouldn’t” lines) was really sweet and tied up his story so nicely for me.
My favourite of the five, by far. While reading the first book, he seemed a lot more distant (not emotionally, but I didn’t care for him as much as the rest) but in the next three, I learned a lot more about him and began to understand his personality and motivations. His lust for adrenaline (oh that street racing) was so vastly different to me but while reading it I felt like that was what I wanted too.
His dreaming was a really cool ability but also a well-written hindrance, like creating Matthew (!!!!!!!!) and Cabeswater (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) were both amazing things but both added problems to his life.
Also having him as gay, or not straight in some way, was not what I’d have expected of him in the first book, but was written super well and made me remember that not every rough rich boy character is straight 😉
While he was only introduced in book three (I think??) throughout book four I began to understand his character and he is so sweet!
I love how he feels a connection with Gansey and actually tells Gansey about it, and how he is super smart but his words just don’t work sometimes. I am waiting for Maggie Stiefvater to write a Henry Chen novel so I can learn more about him and see more of his character.
Well, that was obscenely long (or maybe it just took too long to write)
TL;DR The character arcs were written well and I understood why they happened. The flaws were on point and added depth to the characters, and I want to know Henry Chen better because he is great!!!
Okay, I’ll keep this a bit shorter.
BASICALLY ALL OF THIS IS SPOILERS so I’m not putting it in blur, but be warned!!!
-I’ll put a thing in green at the end as a spoiler-free summary.-
I don’t necessarily mean the romantic relationships, but also the friendships, the weird enemy but bros relationship that I don’t know what to call, and the family relationships.
There were two friendships that stood out to me, but there were also smaller ones within the groups and outside of as well.
Mora (? I hope that’s spelled right), Calla and Persephone, to me, were more like sisters. Perhaps it’s because they are ll psychics and therefore understand more about the world, time, and each other, but the way they needed all three to work smoothly as friends and psychics in business was really unique and interesting. The way they seemed to fall apart when Mora disappeared and when Persephone died was sad but made sense because of what I understood
Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah and Blue are great friends and I think I’ve already gone into them enough.
There was a whole range of different romantic relationships, beginning with Blue x Adam which went just about nowhere, to the secret relationship of Blue x Gansey (which felt a lot more Right). Mr Grey and Mora were the kinds of relationship I don’t read much about in YA, but it was refreshing and I loved their dynamic.
Blues sequential relationships with Adam and then Gansey put them more into context, and usually, I don’t care much for this type but I feel It was well written and explained.
Finally, I had been waiting for aaaaages for Ronan x Adam. Maggie Stiefvater had written the build-up to that relationship perfectly and it felt correct when they finally kissed.
ENEMIES BUT BROS RELATIONSHIP
Okay, so for those of you who are confused, this is between Ronan and Kavinsky. They street raced and didn’t seem to get along that well – they were rough and not exactly nice to each other, but when Kavinsky taught Ronan how to pull things from dreams, it was a super great dynamic that I don’t read very much, if at all.
This had the whole lot – parent and child, siblings, found family and more I think. The ones I really want to discuss are the Lynch brothers, and Mora and Blue’s.
Declan was almost like the angry father of the trio of Lynch brothers, the protector. While he and Ronan got into a lot of fights, I think I understand that he was just, in his own way, trying to protect his brothers. Matthew being a golden child, but created by Ronan, is a completely new kind of character and made the trio complete.
I related to Mora and Blue in some ways, and felt like my mum and I were different in others, but I love a good, well-written parent and child relationship.
TL:DR The diversity of relationship types (ie not just romantic) that were well explored and created felt realistic and unique.
Soooo overall that’s a long review so sorry guys, hope you enjoyed and I totally recommend this series.