Saturday, 21 May 2016

Some Thoughts On: The Raven King

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)
Maggie Stiefvater
April 26th 2016

******Will probably contain spoilers for this book and the whole series just as a heads up******

I'm not going to try and write a normal review for The Raven King, because quite frankly I don't even know if I'm capable of doing proper reviews any more, and this is not the book or the series where I want to figure that out. That, and my love for this series transcends that of something which I can properly review, as I am completely biased and I *will* fight people about these books. On that note, this is also won't even entirely be about The Raven King on its own. Rather, it's a chance for me to go on and on and on and on and on about how much I love these books and Blue and those darn boys.

My biggest fear about The Raven King, as is always the case with final books in a beloved series, was that it wouldn't be a good or fitting ending. I did not need to be worried. Rather than reaching the climax that I think most people, or at least I, was expecting, it took a very different direction and I was glad for it. There were definitely times in the first half of the book where I was wary or just completely lost about what was happening or what it was doing, but it worked. I never really know where these books are going to go, and that's one of the things I love so much about The Raven Cycle. It's not that they're unpredictable, it's that they're like being trapped in a dream where you're a little bit confused about what's going on, but are happy to just float along with it until it reaches its destination. I don't think I've ever read a series of books that felt so much like being inside someone else's dreams, and it's so weird and magnificent and heartbreaking that it all feels as though it exists on some completely different mental plane to my own and I love it. I don't know that I'll ever find a series of books that quite fill the gap that this series has left in my life, for this reason and for many others. I haven't cared this much about a series in so long that I've forgotten just how weird and empty it can feel for those first few days when you realise that it is the end of that journey, and you'll never get to experience it for the first time or in the same way again - both a good and a bad thing, I think.

Let's talk about the thing that makes these books so great though: Blue and her raven boys. Honestly, I love these guys so much and I think that it has everything to do with how much they all love each other. I remember, when reading the first book, that I didn't really like Adam. I had clicked pretty much immediately with Blue, Ronan and Noah, but Adam and Gansey I wasn't sure of. I don't know how I could think that now. If any of them were missing, nothing would be the same. They all matter so much, both to each other and to the narrative. Now, I'm not going to lie here, I still have my favourites (Blue and Ronan, because I am very predictable), but they're basically all equal in my heart. Which, on a sidenote, may actually be the cheesiest thing I've ever written, but I'm feeling sappy so I'll let it slide. Really, anything could have happened in this book and I don't think I'd have minded so long as I got to spend some more time with Blue and her boys. Something about all of them is so irresistible and inexplicable and honest, and they are almost entirely the reason why I care so much about The Raven Cycle.

The other reason is just my own amazement about how a series of books about a bunch of weird kids who, by all means, should actually be unbearable, looking for the body of a Welsh king who they think can grant wishes can be so damn brilliant. I don't think that the plot is the strongest point of these books, in all honesty, though that's not a disservice because really they're all more character driven anyway, but I love how it all works together. There's a lot of intricate plotting that comes full circle in The Raven King and it's definitely a series which would benefit from being read all in one go, as there are a lot of things just about the series as a whole which make a lot more sense having read The Raven King. Also, may I just say how apt it is that the series is called The Raven Cycle. Stupidly, I was not expecting it all to come together in the cyclical way that it did, and if I'm entirely honest I'm still kind of not sure what happened, but I liked it anyway. I love how the book dealt with Gansey's death, which surprised me because I am usually all on the side of angst and characters remaining dead, but I think it was the right way for this series to go. I also loved how it dealt with the disappointment about Glendower, and what that meant for the gang and for the series. On the one hand, I was expecting something big and exciting and Final Book-ish to happen, but having read The Raven King, I think it ended in the right way. It wasn't really a big ending in terms of action, but it was huge in terms of emotion, which is what i am HERE FOR. GIVE ME ANGST FOR DAYSSSSSS.

Basically, I love this series a lot and I don't really know how to articulate a lot of my feelings about it. Seeing as we've gotten to this point in a fairly sensible manner, I'm going to take this time to just yell and hopefully the rest of my feelings about The Raven Cycle will reach you. 


There we go.

Nonsense aside, The Raven Cycle is one of, if not actually, my favourite series and you should read them, though if you haven't and you've got this far sorry about the spoilers even if I did warn you. If you have read them, feel free to scream incomprehensibly in the comments/at me on twitter. I will understand. 

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