Top Ten Tuesday: How Do I Love the Raven Cycle? Let Me Count the Ways

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Ten Reasons I Love Xcould be a certain book, character, author, your indie bookstore, a fandom, a tv show, reading, a hobby, a genre. Honestly anything you want to gush about.” Whoa, a chance to gush about anything? I didn’t know where to begin when I saw the topic for this week. There are so many possibilities and in truth, I think I’d like to revisit this topic in the future and share a little about my other obsessions. But for today, I’ll be gushing about one of my favorite series ever, Maggie Steifvater’s The Raven Cycle. No one quite understands my enthusiasm for this series and that’s because I work hard to hold myself back when talking about it. Hopefully today’s post doesn’t shatter that fragile facade of sanity I work so hard to maintain while speaking about these books. Covers below are linked to Goodreads. Click images below to enlarge.

The Raven Cycle:

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1. Unique Plot – I’ve never come across a series quite like The Raven Cycle. The whole concept revolves around a group of teens trying to find a missing Welsh king, rumored to grant a favor to the one who wakes him. You’re probably thinking that sounds rather unusual and you are right, it is unusual and yet it works.

2. Character-Driven – I love character-driven novels. I’m always drawn to complex characters and I loved watching these characters grow over this series of books. I could go on and on about Gansey, Blue, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. Each is truly unique and feels so dynamic, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a group of characters that feel more real.

3. Book Covers – This is a shallow reason to like this series, but can we just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful and different these book covers are? The cover art for this series is amongst my favorite and oh-so photogenic.

4. Fantastic Friendships – If you read the synopsis for the first book, you’d come to believe that this novel is essentially a love story and I’d agree, just not in the way you’d think. Friendship is a kind of love story and you will not find a set of friends more devoted to one another than the one found in this series.

5. Love Stories – Because yes, the characters do fall in love and the development is a rewarding thing to watch, especially when certain characters are very determined not to like another.

6. Interesting Minor Characters – There are no stock characters in this series to fill out the universe. And every minor character Stiefvater introduces could have a book devoted to their own story. Even the villains in the story are interesting, like how in the world did I come to care so much for a hit man?

7. The Humor – Because this series never ceases to make me smile. Whether it’s a snide remark about why someone never wanted to have a baby with another, or someone musing that lamps just aren’t their thing, there’s a quiet humor to Stiefvater’s writing that usually elicits a silent chuckle from myself.

“This is what you get, Maura, for using your DNA to make a baby,” Calla said.

8. Adult Characters – It drives me crazy when adult characters are nowhere to be found in YA books. This isn’t the case with The Raven Cycle. Not only are the present, but they are important to the story and all deliciously interesting.

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9. Perfect Reread Material – Before the final book came out, I reread the first three books and became deeply immersed in the story, marking significant passages that I hadn’t realized were so significant the first time around. Stiefvater has written a story that deserves to be reread because oh my gosh, she foreshadowed so much.

10. Beautiful Writing – Sometimes Stiefvater’s writing is so achingly beautiful, I don’t know what to do with myself. The parallels, the foreshadowing, the lovely prose, the dynamic characters, just everything is told with such care, I’m just in awe of her writing ability.

And Because This Quote Sums Up How I Feel:

“She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was so big that it felt like sadness.”

Are you a fan of the Raven Cycle series? Are you undecided about reading it? Have I convinced you to pick it up? Which book series are you positively obsessed with? What topic are you covering for this Top Ten Tuesday? Let me know in the comments and leave a link to your own TTT post and I’ll be sure to visit!

**Side Note: Sign-ups for the Comment Challenge for the month of July are now open. You’ll be paired with another blogger and will comment on each other’s blogs all month long. It’s a great way to form new blogging friendships and increase comment activity on your blog. If you’re interested, you can find out all the info here.**

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, #1
Pages: 416
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 12th 2012 

      “Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
      His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
      But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
      For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. 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.”

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“She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness.

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys is one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve reread it several times, written a love-letter to its character for a fellow blogger’s Valentine’s Day themed feature, generally push the book on other bloggers whenever I can, and can spend hours discussing the magic within its pages. I had a very brief review of the book on my blog written in my preblogging days that really didn’t do justice to the novel. I had the opportunity to reread The Raven Boys before the final installment’s release, so thought it was about time I did a proper review of it. The Goodreads synopsis above, in my opinion, over simplifies what the novel is about. The romance takes a backseat to the characters’ quest and I’d argue that the romantic relationships are secondary to the platonic ones. Every character is developed enough that this novel could be about them and each has their own struggles, insecurities, and dreams.

Richard Gansey III’s ambition to find the missing Welsh king Glendower is at the center of the series. The unofficial leader of the group, Gansey’s life has been one of privilege, but his eccentric interests set him apart. While he sometimes lacks self-awareness, when it comes to his friends, his heart is always in the right place. He understands how the world sees him, a boy who has been handed everything and part of the reason he wants to find Glendower is to prove that he is capable of earning something of his own. Ronan Lynch is in a word, caustic. He’s blunt, rough-edged, and determined to show everyone he can’t be touched. This is only partially true. Ronan can be resentful, belligerent, and irresponsible, but he is more than what he shows outsiders. Much of his rebellious behavior can be traced back to the murder of his father and the unanswered questions he left behind.

Adam Parrish is a character that you can immediately sympathize with. Unlike Gansey and Ronan, he didn’t grow up with money. Determined to make it on his own, Adam will do anything to forge his own path. His ambition, and the resentment he feels toward those who want to lend him a helping hand, is bred from the powerless role he plays in the relationship with his father. Noah is probably the most enigmatic of the Aglionby boys. He’s quiet and sometimes goes entirely unnoticed amongst this group of large characters, but there’s a vulnerability to him that draws you in.

Blue Sargent has spent her life surrounded by the paranormal. Living under a roof of psychics isn’t easy when your own gift seems to pale in comparison. Told that her destiny is to kill her true love, Blue has taken the endless predictions in stride. But when her path crosses with this particular group of raven boys, nothing is as easy as she once thought. Suddenly a new world of magic opens up to her and though she tries to guard her heart against the boys, she finds herself needing to be a part of their journey. She’s been defined by what she does for others, amplifying their psychic abilities, but longs for a calling of her own. Blue also comes with her own cast of unique women that make up her home of 300 Fox Way. Her mother Maura, as well as Maura’s close friends Calla and Persephone are a wonderful blend of strangeness, boldness, and whimsicality.

Historical, mythical and paranormal elements combine to create the unique atmosphere of The Raven Boys. Stiefvater’s story can be odd, funny, and sometimes eerie. Having read the subsequent books in the series, I can say that this novel is only the beginning of the evolution of these characters and Stiefvater continues to build on the relationships developed in this first book.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★

The Friday 56, #112: The Raven Boys

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Do you know how much Gansey senior is worth? I wonder if he knows what his kid spends all his time on. Man, sometimes these entitles little bastards make me want to slit my wrists.”

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series is one of my favorite series in the whole world. I cannot get enough of these characters and was so sad that the final book was released only a couple of weeks ago. I devoured it, by the way. This week I’m spotlighting the first book in the series, The Raven Boys. I’ll finally be posting a proper review in the coming days. This excerpt is a conversation that takes place between a couple of teachers and a secretary at a very rich private school and they are beside themselves because one of the students is obsessed with locating the Welsh King Glendower who disappeared hundreds of years ago. I tell ya, rich kids and their hobbies. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, #4
Pages: 438
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: April 26th 2016 

      “Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.
      For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey…and is certain she is destined to kill him.

      Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

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“They stood among black trees blossomed with dull gray lichen. The air was gloomy and green. Though there were no leaves left on the trees, the sky felt low, a mossy ceiling. The trees has still said nothing; it was like the dull hush before a storm.”

Over the course of four books, Maggie Stiefvater has presented readers with a truly unique story and produced some of the most complex characters I’ve ever come across. The Raven Cycle revolves around a group of teens on a quest to find the missing Welsh King Glendower. But the path has never been straight and their journey has led them to unexpected places. The Raven King, the fourth and final installment, is darker in tone compared to the previous books, as the end of their search approaches. Other, more sinister parties have become interested in the mystery of the ley lines and the promise of a favor for waking a king. A different kind of magic has also been awakened, it’s begun to devour and corrupt the magic of Cabeswater, but it’s power cannot be contained and it threatens to consume everything. As the characters learned in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, when dealing with the unknowable, death is always a possibility and time is running out for one of them.

There is so much to admire about the way Stiefvater writes her characters. Whether it’s Gansey, Blue, Ronan, or Adam, her characters are continually evolving. They struggle with how they see themselves, where their place is in the world and how they relate to others. Gansey and Blue have long been defined by their families, but have sought to make a name for themselves. Fate has also played a prominent role in both their lives. Gansey has spent the last seven years knowing that it is his destiny to find Glendower. Blue has spent her life knowing that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. While one is determined to see his destiny come true, the other has never been able to accept hers. Adam and Ronan’s abilities have set them apart from the rest of the world. While the former’s connection with the Cabeswater grows stronger, Ronan’s dream life once again begins to bleed into the real world. Their gifts are a different kind of burden than what Gansey and Blue bear with their destinies. I loved seeing Adam and Ronan exploring their power together, relying on one another and learning to embrace who they are. Ronan’s dreams have always been fascinating, but in The Raven King, they take on a more sinister shape, reflecting the destructive magic that has been unleashed into the world. I can’t say enough about how much I’ve enjoyed seeing the relationship between these four grow and change. There’s jealousy and resentment, secrets and differences in opinion, but there’s also loyalty, love and self-sacrifice.

The Raven King brings together a number of characters, both old and new. Henry Cheng, who we have only caught small glimpses of in the previous books, becomes a key character. He’s snarky and flippant, but this façade hides a secret that unexpectedly ties him to Blue and the boys’ story. New players like the Laumonier triplets, who work as a singular unit, are as interesting as they are unnerving. One of my favorite things about this series is 300 Fox Way and the wonderful women that make up Blue’s home. After the loss in the previous book, the equilibrium of the house is broken as everyone tries to come to grips with what happened, at the same time knowing they are all hurtling toward a potentially catastrophic future.

The Raven King exemplifies everything about the series that has made it so enjoyable and though this ending is bittersweet, I know it won’t be long before I revisit these characters again.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★