After my slow progress through the Wheel of Time series–which, never fear, I’m still reading!–let me tell you: I forgot how exhilarating it can be to read an entire book in less than a day. I got a week off of work to spend some time with my family, during which time I finished Lord of Chaos (WoT #6). But, as it happened, my mom made the mistake of taking me into a bookstore, and I did not walk out empty-handed.
The Raven Cycle is one that I’ve sort of wanted to read for a while. I’ve read Stiefvater’s Scorpio Races, which I would definitely recommend, and I don’t think I ever finished The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, but it wasn’t because I didn’t like the story. I think I just got pulled away by another series. Anyway, I remember being blown away by the ending of Scorpio Races, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve seen about the Raven Cycle series online, so it just kind of needed to happen at some point.
Let me tell you something: It did not disappoint. One of the things I love about Stiefvater’s writing is that her urban fantasy feels real. Magic is real, it’s just not obvious. It’s tucked away in ley lines and the occasional family gifted with clairvoyance and kings long dead.
But never at any point does it feel like just another paranormal YA novel. It doesn’t fall into the clichés that so many of its fellow paranormal YA trip into: no weird love triangles with their “alluring bad boy” and “charming nice guy.” Instead, we get four boys and Blue, all wrapped up in the mystery of these ley lines and the quest to find a dead king. And, sure, there’s romantic feelings. I mean, they’re teenagers. But it’s never just about the romance.
Stiefvater knows how to write her characters, and even in All the Crooked Saints, whose plot was a bit lackluster in my opinion, I still remember finding several of her characters to jump off the page. As you’ve probably guessed, Raven Boys is no exception. You’ve got Blue, who is very familiar with this whole mystical part of the world, and you’ve got Gansey, leader of this little Aglionby gang, trying to understand what he’s meant to do with his life after a strange occurrence when he was a little younger. Then there’s Ronan, explosive and self-destructive, dealing with his own personal issues, and Adam, dealing with problems at home and determined to graduate Aglionby so he can get out of the trailer park. And Noah. Noah.
They’re an unlikely group, but they work well. They’re all outcasts in their own way. I loved the way they interacted with each other, like how Adam couldn’t help but resent Gansey for how careless he was with his money, and how Gansey recognizing his privilege while still being uncertain on how to wipe it out of his speech. I don’t know. I just think that they’re flawed in realistic ways, yet despite it, they’re pulled together by this inexplicable quest.
There were some amazing, unexpected twists. Like, oh my god, I won’t ruin anything for you if you haven’t read it yet, but several of these characters have some secrets that lead to a pretty dark, if satisfying finale. I think my only qualm with the ending is the supposed sacrifice. The way things played out, for all intents and purposes, it seemed like one of the characters got what they wanted, and I suppose I’ll have to wait until I read The Dream Thieves to figure out what exactly the nature of the sacrifice was. Other than that, I mean, the whole book was hard to put down, but at some point I just gave up and devoured the last third of it.
If you’ve read it before, I hope you’ll leave some non-spoilery comments about whether or not you agree with my review. I, personally, can’t wait to find time to continue this series. Once I finish Wheel of Time, of course.