In Which I Flail Over The Raven Cycle

It’s been a long time, people, but I finally found a series that broke my reading slump for good (fingers crossed). The last time I binge-read an entire four-part series in less than 10 days was when I first read Twilight (don’t judge, okay?).

So I’m beyond happy to have finally caved to peer pressure – because Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle is great. Let me tell you why (also this is a non-spoilery sort-of review of the entire series):

  • The characters are fantastic. Okay, I know people are saying that they’re really over-privileged white spoiled boys (and girl), but I couldn’t help but feel that the over-privileged part was more of a hindrance in their case. And I know readers are especially partial to Ronan (or Adam), but I have to say Gansey stole my heart. He’s such a good guy and you know how much I love good guys. I was also afraid that Blue would be your typical manic pixie girl, but she’s just so relatable and down to earth and kind. She’s a wonderful heroine.
  • The adults aren’t complete morons. So often in YA, adults either act as antagonists or are completely absent from the plot, leaving teenagers to save the world (which is…fine, but gets old pretty fast). Here, I loved Blue’s relationship with her mother, the psychic ladies, and Mr. Gray. They never stole the spotlight from the main characters but they also didn’t let them flail around on their own.
  • The writing is addictive. I’ve read the Mercy Falls series before and I liked Stiefvater’s world a lot, though it didn’t blow me away. With The Raven Cycle, however, I couldn’t stop reading. When my local bookstore didn’t have Blue Lily, Lily Blue in stock, it was the worst (they got it for me from another town so I didn’t have to order through The Book Depository and wait for two weeks, whew).
  • The worldbuilding is detailed but not overpowering. As always, I’m super glad when I find a series where the author doesn’t beat me over the head with their world. Like, the mythical king Gansey is looking for (the drive for the entire series) was completely unknown to me, and though I didn’t particularly care about the king (and didn’t even check if he’s an actual historical persona), I could still follow and enjoy the plot.

All in all, this series is a treat. If paranormal YA is your thing, you need this in your life. And then we can chat about who your favorite raven boy (or girl?) is, alright?
Have you read The Raven Cycle? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you! :)

  • Greg Hill

    Ah the Raven cycle. Glad it lived up to the hype! And broke a reading slump too? So much better. :)

    I do like it in YA when the parents are there and are reasonably realistic lol since you’re right- so often it’s the other way. Nice too that the big overarching mission wasn’t necessarily everything about the story. Sounds very character- driven.

    • Kaja

      Have you read the books? Or are you simply seeing them everywhere? :)

      And yeah, adult characters were very good here. You’re right, it’s character-driven, even the minor characters are incredibly fleshed-out. There’s plenty of action, too.

      • Greg Hill

        I have not read them, and I do see them everywhere. :) That’s usually a sign they’re pretty good! For the longest time I didn’t know what they were about but I kept seeing reviews and it made me really curious. :)

        Character- driven and lots of action a good combo!

        • Kaja

          Yeah, I really think it all works together really nicely. :)

  • I’m glad the Raven Boys (and girl) broke your slump! I read the first two books and didn’t love it, but I can see why others do. :)

    • Kaja

      Ahh, you managed to quit mid-series? I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. But as often as I’m the black sheep when it comes to over-hyped books, I’m with the overwhelming majority on this series. It somehow really worked for me.

  • I’m so glad this was a success! Do you have a favorite book? I really loved Ronan, even though I’d probably think he was a complete asshole in real life. But I loooove the ship, and I love all the moments when we got to see how gentle and caring he really is. (But like I said, that wouldn’t fly in the real world.) To be honest, the main ship wasn’t that interesting to me. Also, what did you think of the ending? I was extremely disappointed. =/

    • Kaja

      Hm, I’d say the first book is my favorite. What’s yours?
      And yeah, Ronan is a very attractive character because he’s a bad boy (with a very deeply buried heart of gold). Did I understand correctly that we’ll be getting a Ronan spinoff?
      Ahh I loved Blue and Gansey’s story! :D The slow burn is everything.
      And yeah, the ending sort of fizzled out but I was pretty happy with the entire thing. Maybe it’s because I read all 4 in quick succession and you (probably?) waited for a long time to read The Raven King?

      • I really like The Dream Thieves because of Ronan, but the first book comes close.
        That’s what I’ve heard! A spinoff series makes me nervous, but I’m sure I’ll read it anyway.
        Maybe I would have appreciated it more if not for the slow burn of Pynch. :P
        **SPOILERS**
        I did wait for a long time, but more importantly, Maggie Stiefvater promised repeatedly that, when she said Gansey was going to die, she meant it. So I felt betrayed when it didn’t happen. I also thought the inclusion of Henry was an odd choice for the final book.

        • Kaja

          **SPOILERS**
          Well, he did die. A little. :D And yeah, I wondered about Henry, too. If there was some mention of them becoming friends in previous books, I’d have been happier.
          I also missed some girl friends for Blue, but yeah, you can’t have everything.
          Spinoffs are ALWAYS a gamble. I hope she’ll make it good! :)

          • **SPOILERS**
            For 2 seconds! Four books worth of buildup and then there was no suspense. It happened so quickly, we never even got to mourn. I wanted to be devastated in the end. It felt really cheap. Also, I can’t help but wonder if the reason her book got delayed is because her publisher or editor wouldn’t let her end it that way and she had to rewrite.
            Yep, that bothered me about Blue. At least she had all the women in her life, but still.

          • Kaja

            Haha, I think your experience was much worse because you had to wait for so long! I waited for less than two weeks, I’m guessing your wait was about 4 years? :)

            Actually, I’d think the publisher/editor would demand a rough outline of the series before committing to buying the lot? So they probably knew what she was doing with the ending before she sat down to write it.

          • Only about 2.5 years! But still. There was a lot of anticipation.

            Then I have no idea why she wrote the ending that way, and I’m even more disappointed.

  • Kaja, I’m so glad you enjoyed this series. Stiefvater just amazes me, how she was able to juggle so many characters and each of them felt completely realised. Gansey is my personal favorite as well. He can be complete clueless when it comes to his privileges, but he offers each person in the group something you can’t buy with money & I think it’s this latter part that defines his character more. I’ve never read anything like this series and it will probably remain one of my favorites. Great review! And also, long time no talk :)

    • Kaja

      Yes, that’s it exactly, Gansey is so selfless! Clueless, too, of course, but never deliberately harmful. <3
      And yeah, wow, I manage about one post in two weeks, and haven't been on Bloglovin in ages. I'm considering just subscribing to my favorite blogs and following by email, Bloglovin becomes such a distraction…

      • I am terrible when it comes to keeping up with bloglovin. A couple of months ago, I did a little unfollow spree to try to shrink the number of people I follow so I could keep up and it turns out, I really like following a lot of people. I’m much better with my WordPress reader. I follow a pretty conservative number of blogs on there and am able to add bloggers from other platforms as well, which I only do with bloggers I engage with a lot (like you!) and I stay pretty up-to-date.

        • Kaja

          I don’t want to unfollow people, that’s the problem! It seems rude. I know it’s not, it’s just the nature of the internet, but yeah, it’s weird.

          I’m now subscribing by email, then I have the new posts pop up in my inbox and I check that all the time.

  • Helia D

    Great series review! This is probably my favourite book series and for all the reasons you said. It’s not overwhelming and the world is pretty simple, but the writing is so addictive and brings everything to life in a way that makes the tiny world of Henrietta seem so vast. I actually DNFed The Raven Boys when I first picked it up but I’m so glad I gave it a second chance. Also I love all the characters, although my favourite has to be Adam <3

    • Kaja

      Thanks, Helia! :)
      Henrietta was such a great setting! I loved all the details Stiefvater wove into the story. And I’m glad you gave The Raven Boys another try and found a new series!
      Adam was my least favorite! :o Haha, I guess this is Stiefvater’s mastery: she created enough interesting characters that we get to pick and choose our favorites.

  • A worthy flail and glad this broke your slump! It solidified for me that I will be interested in anything Stiefvater writes. If you haven’t read The Scorpio Races, that’s another great one!

    I so agree with you and also totally love that the adults are not only not irrelevant but also pretty great. I love Blue’s house! As for my favorite of The Raven boys, I’m boring and do adore Ronan and Adam. Adam was my fave from the beginning – it too me until book three to really warm up to Ronan. I still really liked Blue and Gansy though. Siefvater just does good characters!

    • Kaja

      I haven’t read The Scorpio Races yet but it’s definitely on my tbr now!

      Blue’s house was fantastic. It’s like another character! And I liked Ronan and Adam too, of course, they were pretty damn fantastic, it’s just Blue and Gansey slowly made home inside my soft heart. :)

  • I loved this series, too! Although I haven’t read the last one. I’m so nervous that Stiefvater is going to rip my heart out. I agree about Gansey. He totally stole my heart. Have you read The Scorpio Races by Steifvater? It’s amazing.

    • Kaja

      I haven’t read The Scorpio Races yet but others have recommended it and I will definitely pick it up soon.
      It seems we’re the minority – Gansey is the lest popular of the Raven Boys! I hope you’ll enjoy the last one. :)

  • MoonstoneBooks

    I’ve read the first three books in the series so far, and I love them!! <3 I want to read the last one soon but I've been putting it off because once I do, it will be over :( But I'm still so excited to read it!!

    • Kaja

      I do that sometimes as well! I have just one Rainbow Rowell book left unread (Landline) and I’m putting it off because I don’t want to finish them all. I hope the last Raven book will live up to your expectations!

  • This is a book series which has been on my radar for a while ad hearing you say so many good things about it certainly makes me question why I’ve not picked the first book up yet. It’s gathering digital dust on my Kindle and everything. I was certainly put off by the prospect of a manic pixie dream girl and the overprivilegedness of it but I guess I will put my doubts to one side and see how it goes. There has to be a reason everyone raves about this one, right?

    • Kaja

      Well if you have it already… :)

      Manic pixie dream girl trope is horrible but Blue is really a good character. Give it a try, I’m very interested in your take on it.

      And I think this with all hyped-up books: there must be SOMETHING about it. And more often than not, I’m still disappointed. I hope you won’t be, though!

      • Ok, I will definitely give it a try. I’ve got to try and read a few ARCs but hopefully I’ll get to it in July. It counts as clearing off an old book on my shelves at least.

        And yeah, hyped books get the hype from somewhere. Often it kills books for me but if I can forget the hype I should enjoy.

  • She’s baaaaack! 🎉

    Any series that can break someone out of an epic reading slump is one that I’m interested in. I read the first book a few years back, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it the way a lot of people did so I never continued the series. It sounds like that was a major error on my part, though! Especially since Blue doesn’t have MPDG syndrome (which I totally thought she would after the first book). Ronan is my favourite character, at least post-book 1, but I also really liked all the wacky ladies in Blue’s family.

    • Kaja

      Ha, yeah, I’m sort of back? Trying to answer comments in a timely fashion and all.

      The wacky ladies in Blue’s family are amazing! They get more screen time later on in the series. I hope you’ll give the rest of the books a go, though I’ve since heard that fans were disappointed by the ending? Maybe because they had to wait for so long. I didn’t have that problem (seeing as how I binged the entire series in 2 weeks). :)

  • You’re talking about one of my FAVORITE authors of all time!!!

    I can’t even talk properly because ~FEELINGS~ I absolutely adore The Raven Cycle.. And yes, Gansey is just too precious!

    – Shanu (http://anerdyaffair.wixsite.com/scribblesonascreen)

    • Kaja

      Haha I’m glad to meet another Raven Cycle enthusiast! :) I can’t wait to read Maggie’s next book – just a month now!