Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Teen Review: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Welcome to the blog Anna! Our new teen reviewer is a serious devourer of books, so we look forward to hearing all about her favorite books:

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Now, I'm not normally a Fantasy reader, but a close friend recommended me The Raven Boys, I thought, Heck, why not? I am so glad I did...

Blue Sargent lives in a house of psychics–– including her mother, aunt, and cousin–– at 300 Fox Way. She can't see the future or read tarot cards like the rest of them, but she can, through touch, amplify their powers. That's why every year on Saint Mark's Eve, her mother brings Blue to assist her in viewing the spirits on the corpse road–– spirits that reflect the locals who will die within the next year. Blue's not clairvoyant; she's not supposed to be able to see them. However, this year, she not only sees and speaks to a young, male spirit: Gansey is a boy from Aglionby Academy, the all-boys prep-school for rich kids, the to-be politicians, the moneymakers. Blue detests the Aglionby students, dubbed the Raven Boys, because she knows that they can only mean trouble. 

Soon after, by coincidence (or not) she runs into Gansey and his friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Blue learns of their hunt for the ley line, a magical boundary that enables communication with the supernatural, and their desire to wake a dead Welsh king who will supposedly grant them a wish. She quickly abandons her policy anti-Raven Boy policy to join them on their quest. She not only learns new information about the magical world, she learns that the these boys are much more than expensive cars and charming smiles. 

There are many reasons why I enjoyed The Raven Cycle, but one reason is because of the characters and their relationships. Stiefvater does an amazing job at smoothly incorporating the main character's back stories, personality traits, and quirks that make each character incredibly unique and realistic. As for their relationships, she builds them through seemingly simple dialogue and small actions that leave the reader yearning for more, more, more. The curve of a mouth, a kind gesture, an off-hand comment–– they're all relevant and contribute to the interpersonal dynamics as a whole.

Another reason I recommend TRC is its more realistic-fantasy structure. Spirits and (accurate) clairvoyants obviously don't exist in real life, but minus the supernatural, the setting is in the small town of Henrietta, Virginia, not some completely other world or planet. This was nice for me because I am not a hardcore fantasy fan; Stiefvater constructs the magical elements gradually, and they become more present in each novel. 

My final reason for loving these novels are the connections between chapters and past books. Stiefvater heavily uses foreshadowing, and I personally love putting pieces together and figuring out what's going to happen before it does. If this isn't your cup of tea, don't worry, there are plenty of surprises also! She loves cliffhanger chapters (and endings). She also uses dramatic irony consistently, and it leaves you writhing in your seat.

One problem I had reading The Raven Boys was its slow pacing. For a while, it was so sluggish that I had to set it down and try reading again later. But once you're in the thick of the plot, there's no escape; once you finish the first book, you have to read the second, once you read the second, you have to read the third. There are four books total in The Raven Cycle, but the fourth will not be released until February 2016. 

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