Monday, October 2, 2017

All Things Halloween Review - The Raven King

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, # 4)

By: Maggie Stiefvater

Published: April 26th 2016 by Scholastic Press

439 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Supernatural

Source: Personal Kindle Library

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Goodreads description--The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

In a starred review for Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Kirkus Reviews declared: "Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close."

The Raven Cycle has not been my favorite series by Maggie Stiefvater. And honestly, I've been on a bit of a roller coaster with the series. I said in my review of The Raven Boys that it was probably my least favorite book by Maggie Stiefvater out of the (now) 11 that I've read, and that might remain true, but The Raven King comes really close to competing for that. I took issue at the time with the apparent prophecy that Gansey was Blue's true love, yet in The Raven Boys Blue and Adam were more of a thing. As the series progressed, I actually came to enjoy the transition from Adam and Blue to Gansey and Blue. I also felt that Maggie's writing wasn't what I'd come to expect from her in style. The Raven Boys felt slow and dry to me when compared to the richness and poetry that I've come to expect from her books.

Maggie returns to her poetic roots with book 2, but I said in my review of The Dream Thieves that the writing felt "klunky" in an "'I'm really having to think about what's being said' kind of way." The Dream Thieves was all about Ronan. I mean the other characters were there and involved, but Ronan took center stage, and I loved it--him. It took me about 50% to feel connected to the story and characters, but overall I enjoyed it much more than The Raven Boys.

Even though the first couple of books were the same way, I kept thinking that as the series progressed this would change, but by the time I got to Blue Lily, Lily Blue I realized that the adventure and plot would outshine the characters in this series all the way through. The relationships between the characters did progress, but overall I felt like the plot didn't move along much.

And now here we are at The Raven King. I told Husband that Maggie Stiefvater's writing is probably brilliant in this book and it was definitely poetry, but it wasn't a type of brilliance or poetry that is easy to love. Instead it feels like the type of poetry that you go "I'm really not at all sure what you're talking about, but I'm sure it's genius." And that's kind of how I felt throughout this book and really throughout the entire series. The writing style made me feel like I was missing things at times, and I can't tell you how often I wondered "what is even happening right now?" And the length of time between each book only added to that because I forgot so many details each time. So perhaps a more direct writing style would have made this an easier and more enjoyable series for me. However, like I said, I'm sure it was genius.

While I loved how Gansey and Blue have transitioned from where they started in The Raven Boys to now, I did not (AT ALL) like what Maggie Stiefvater did with Ronan and Adam. I'd have to go back and re-read the series to see if I missed clues leading up to this, but I felt completely caught off guard here, and I didn't like it one bit. But here's the problem...I don't think I enjoyed the series enough to want to re-read it--even though I'd probably appreciate the brilliance and writing style more if I did. I did like the individual personal growth between these characters and I was rooting for each individually to live up to everything they could be.

I feel like there's probably so much more I need to say about this book specifically, but I feel like either I can't get my thoughts in order or anything I would say would be a spoiler. So instead I'll share a few quotes that I enjoyed:

-...the Ganseys did not demand favors. Often they didn't even ask. They did unto others and silently hoped others would rise to do it unto them.

-"You can't compare one person's coping capacity to another,"...

-...the difference between a nice house and a nice prison is really small.

-There was a lot of happiness tucked in the corner of that smile...

-He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn't want it to be over.

The Raven King was a decent end to a decent series. I can't say that I loved this book or this series even though I did find myself attached to some of the characters. I do think that the series is probably genius and Maggie's writing requires thought to appreciate it's beauty. At the same time, the writing style slowed me down and kept me from enjoying the story as much as I wanted to. The Raven King gets 3 Stars. Have you read The Raven King? What did you think? Let me know!

This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.

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