The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is a young adult supernatural novel entering around Blue Sargent, Gansy and their search for Welsh king Glendower. It is a quartet made up of The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue and The Raven King. it is told from multiple points of view.
I will say that it took me some time to get into this series – at least two attempts of starting the book, and putting it down again. This is despite a kickass opening in which the whole conflict of the series is laid out; it is foretold that Blue will kill her one true love when she kisses him, and Gansy is fated to die within the year. That is the hook to lure you into this series – you can’t help but want to know if these foretellings come true. My initial struggle with this book is partly because, at first glance, the main protagonists are rather unappealing. Gansy comes across as rich, arrogant and entitled. Ronan is snarky and belligerent. Adam is stubborn and independent to a fault and Noah is insipid. It’s only when you get further into the books that the deeper layers of these characters are revealed and your understanding of them deepens. After that I was very happy to continue marathoning the series.
There is a whole arc running through the series with resolutions of plot points in the first book only coming through in the final instalment. Each book has its own theme which feeds into the major series story arc. It is very well tied together if not overly complex. The Raven Boys is all about the setup; introducing the main driving plot of the series, the characters and the world. The Dream Thieves is Ronan’s story and how his ability will aid his friends in their quest. Blue Lily, Lily Blue focusses on Blue and also on deepening the relationships amongst the group and The Raven King ties everything up.
What I liked
The characters. The well written, nuanced and flawed characters and their relationships are the highlight of this series. Stiefvater has developed a wonderful set of characters and the relationships that develop among them are beautiful to read. They truly are stronger because they know each other. The relationships are all unique; Blue acts differently with Noah than she does with Adam, and Gansy has a different relationship to Ronan than to Noah. Additionally, the characters we meet in The Raven Boys are not the same ones we say farewell to in The Raven King – they have been changed by their experiences and each other. That is one thing that always attracts me to a book series. It is mainly for the characters and character development that I continued reading this series. I loved that each member of the group has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and each has a part to play in the story.
The world. I loved the world Stiefvater created. The kind of supernaturalness – ley lines, tarot, spiritualists/mediums – is one that always gets under my skin. It’s superbly well done.
What I didn’t like
Not immediately likeable protagonists. Though I was fascinated by the characters and engaged in their stories, I didn’t love them the way that I have loved some other protagonists. Their stories were wonderful to read, but I’m not exactly sure I’d like to meet up with any of them for coffee. After four books, I certainly felt as if I understood Gansy, Ronan and Adam a great deal better, even if I didn’t necessarily always like them. This weakened the ending somewhat for me.
The Raven Cycle is an excellent series and well worth reading for the well written, nuanced characters and worldbuilding. As a whole I gave the series four stars out of five.