This is not a review about a book, but rather a series of books – The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue, and The Raven King. It might seem like biting off more than I can chew, reviewing four books in one go, but it’s hard to look at each of them individually rather than as a singular, well-executed narrative.
In short, I loved these books. LOVED them. But let’s start from the beginning.
I have kind of a weird relationship with YA. I read quite a lot of it, but I often find it lacking. Writing teenagers is hard. It’s so easy for them to come off as whiny, or childish, or far too precocious for their age. The last YA series I felt I really enjoyed was probably the Infernal Devices trilogy, and it’s been quite a while since then. But after repeated references to the Raven Cycle by a favorite YouTuber, I decided to give it a shot. So, I checked out the first book from the library. I liked it well enough. Then I checked out the second book. Then I checked out the third AND fourth books, because it was the weekend and I had no intention of stirring from my house until I was through with them.
Where do I even begin? The story follows Blue Sargent, the non-psychic daughter of a talented psychic mother, as she falls in with a crowd of “raven boys” – students at the prestigious Aglionby Academy in Henrietta, Virginia. Gansey, the enigmatic de facto leader of the pack, guides the others on his hunt for the Welsh King Glendower, who he believes is alive and sleeping. The promise of a magical favor dangles over their heads. It was hard not to fall in love with Stiefvater’s characters – no-nonsense Blue, ambitious trailer park-raised Adam, street racer Ronan, occasionally charming Gansey, and Noah, who loves glitter. They’re not perfect, but their depth and character development makes them easy to relate to. Hell, even the side characters were fantastic – Mr. Gray, who first makes his appearance in The Dream Thieves, quickly became a personal favorite.
The kids are aided on their search by psychics and stuffy English academics, and hindered by murderous Latin teachers and yuppy collectors of curiosities. Their relationships evolve, and each grows in their own unique way. The ending left a little to be desired – without spoiling anything, let’s just say this is one of those stories where it turns out the quest was more important than the final destination – but it didn’t do anything to detract from the wild ride on the way there.
Honestly, if I didn’t have such a backlog of books waiting to be read, I’d probably have turned right back around and read the whole series over again. But alas – another day, another book to review. I’ll definitely be coming back to these in the future!