Warning: Minor Spoilers.
Maggie Stiefvater is an author whose work I’ve been meaning to check out for some time, and the Raven Cycle is a series that I’ve heard so much about that I was really excited to finally get to start it. I did enjoy it, but if I’m entirely honest (and please don’t kill me in my sleep Maggie Stiefvater fans!), I didn’t love it quite as much as I had hoped. I think this may be a classic case of too much hype, as it was by no means a bad book, I just wasn’t as blown away as I expected to be.
Blue is the daughter of a psychic, and she has been told all her life that if her true love kisses her, he will die. This has never exactly been a problem before, until she falls in with the mysterious and dangerous Raven Boys: four students from a local boarding school who are on an intriguing but dangerous mission. Along with Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah, Blue becomes embroiled in events far beyond what she could had expected.
So, let’s start with the good. The characters. I absolutely adored the characters in this book, and I really liked the slow burn of their friendships and relationships. I find so many books (particularly YA books) where it is pretty much love at first sight, and the romantic leads are pretty much gearing up to get married by the end of the first book in the series, so this made a refreshing change. I like how there’s a building of friendship between Blue and the Raven Boys, with just a hint of possible romance (with a couple of them!), and I liked all the banter that happens between them, and the various personalities.
Through the book’s characters a lot of issues were discussed pretty sensitively, for example domestic violence and abuse in Adam’s case, with his violent father, and grief in Ronan’s case, as his anger issues clearly stem from the trauma of his father’s death. All the characters had depths, particularly Gansey, who at first glance seemed to be just some spoiled posh boy, but in actual fact was far, far more, and often feels guilty about his privileged upbringing, which is something I liked about him. I also liked that I didn’t manage to guess the whole twist with Noah that came towards the end until quite near the revelation, and I thought the little hints peppered throughout the book were skilfully done.
I wasn’t particularly enamoured of Blue as a heroine though, to be honest, but I feel like if she’s more developed in the later books I could grow to like her, and I’m interested to see where her doomed love story goes, what with the prophecy revolving around her true love dying if he kisses her.
However, the thing that put me off the book most was the plot line (so kind of a major thing). I just found the whole ‘four American school boys and a psychic’s daughter searching for a dead, mythical Welsh King’ to be a little farfetched. I know it’s fantasy, but I kind of feel like if it’s meant to be set in our world, the magical aspect has to slot in a little better. It just felt a little clumsy to me, but I think that’s probably just me, because I know of so many people who absolutely adore this series. When the whole Glendover story line started, as Gansey explains what he’s trying to do, I just found myself being a bit like, ‘what?’, and then ‘why?’ Why would you want to wake up a really old, long dead King? Surely no good can come of it? I know it was kind of explained at one point, but I even thought the explanation seemed pretty random.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, mostly because of the characters. I’m definitely planning to read the rest of the series at some point, and I’m hoping that Blue is developed a bit more, and once I get accustomed to the slightly weird story line, maybe I’ll be more on board with the series! As I said, I feel like this is probably just a case of too much hype, and I’d maybe have been less critical of the book if I’d had less expectations.