I don't think I'll ever be able to say anything useful in reviews for Maggie's Raven Cycle series. I never actually read the summary to this book and sort of just dove right into the reading. But as far as I can tell, we pick up where we left off from the previous two books--the continued search for Glendower on top of a new search for Blue's mother. New characters come into play and more secrets are revealed and we get lots more heartbreaking moments, bittersweet moments, and the heartwarming, fuzzy sweet moments.
The only thing that bothered me was that the story progression seemed a little slow. In spite of so many things going on and so much activity flying by, the direction of the story itself seemed a little confusing until a certain point when all of it decided to finally tie together.
But, nonetheless, I'm just so in love with all of it!
(And yes, I am aware that, upon finishing this post, that this review somehow turned into big compilation of quote-bombing. It just kind of happened. So much for a useful review, eh?)
- The writing is excellent, magical, whimsical, effortlessly amusing and humorous. There's more of a distinct strangeness to the narration and character dialogue that is so witty and fun. Always nonsensical, always silly, always one-liners that make you go back and think and then smile about it like an idiot because the quip seemed ingenious at the time, no matter how small or easily overlooked.
I spent so much time highlighting full passages for the witty humor, or the thoughtfulness, or the insight, or the strangeness... or even just because:
She was weirdly lovely, even though she had unevenly clipped her dark hair all over her head and wore a shirt she'd attacked with a rototiller. Or perhaps because of these things. When had she gotten so pretty and so grown-up? Without getting any taller? This was probably what happened to girls when they lived on only yogurt.
The only thing more pleasing than seeing Ronan singled out was seeing him singled out and forced to repeatedly sing an Irish jig.
"T.J. asked you out. You just stared at him. Ringing bells? [...]
Blue looked up (and up, and up) at her tall cousin. "At lunch, T.J. came over to my table and drew a penis on the unicorn on my binder. Is that the incident Charity is referring to?"
"Don't Richard Gansey the Third at me," Orla replied.
"Because if that's what she meant, then yes, I just stared at him. I didn't realize it was a conversation because penis."
Blue asked, "What kind of job are we talking about here anyway? Like, a job where we pull a salary and at the end we get our faces put up on the wall of a magical forest with Most Valuable Employee of the Epoch?"
"A job like, at the end of it, everything settles into balance and we all live happily the damn ever after."
"Well, that sounds great, except a, what about that sleeper in the middle and b, you can't actually complete a negative job ever, i.e., when does Mom know she's successfully not woken someone, and three, does this still involve Gansey dying? Because f, that is not my idea of a happy ending."
"I regret this conversation," Calla said, and began stacking receipts.
"Also g, I don't want to do school anymore."
- I love the characters from our main group of Raven Boys plus Blue all the way to the weird antagonists with their strange agendas (Piper and Greenmantle), and especially all the random side characters of 300 Fox Way.
I love how Blue describes her boys:
But what she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another.
There is a lot more character interaction that never ceases to draw me into the Raven Boys and Blue and their world of ley lines and dead Welsh kings and lovely, yet bitter sweet emotions. And the more I delve into their world, the more I love these kids.
Even Ronan is starting to grow on me as more of a dark-humored, ill-tempered, sarcasm-filled teen who just has problems expressing his love in a non-toxic way.
With acidic precision, Ronan replied, "For starters, I'd have to sleep right there by the pit, since I have to be touching something to pull it out of a dream. And I'd have to know what was on the other side to even know what kind of bridge to make. And then, even if I pulled all that off, if I took something that big out of my dream, it would drain the ley line, possibly making Cabeswater disappear again, this time with us in it, sending us all to some never-never land of time-space fuckery that we might never escape from. I figured after the events of this summer, all this was self-evident, which was why I summed it up before like so--"
Ronan repeated the noise of glorious disdain.
But these are sometimes the best friendships: when you can be honest with each other, when you can say whatever you want to say, offend everyone, be a shitbag, make jokes, and at the end of the day, you still care enough about each other and love each other enough to remain friends and be there for each other for the moments that matter. At the end of the day, even though you've been fighting forever, you're still the closest of friends.
Everything had begun ugly for Adam, but he knew what Gansey meant. His noble and oblivious and optimistic friend was slowly opening his eyes and seeing the world for what it was, and it was filthy, and violent, and profane, and unfair. Adam had always thought that was what he wanted--for Gansey to know. But now he wasn't sure. Gansey wasn't like anyone else, and suddenly Adam wasn't sure that he really wanted him to be.
Adam couldn't remember how they had managed to fight so continuously over the summer. Gansey, his best friend, his stupid and kind and marvelous best friend.
Blue has more development to go, but we get to see more of her personality and spunk. I'm not sure I remember her being so political about issues, but there's more tidbits involving her and her passionate views. On more significant matters, she begins to form an understanding of her powers and how to use them--that she's more than just a "psychic battery". There's a lot to do with auras and mirrors and whatnot and it's fascinating to learn more about the workings of the magical world of The Raven Cycle.
I thought we'd see more insight into Blue's world in this book, but Blue Lily, Lily Blue continues in the same fashion as The Dream Thieves had by not focusing entirely on one character. Unfortunately, it also doesn't really focus much on Blue. As far as development goes, she doesn't do much of it and remains fairly static in her growth.
Instead, we see more growing from the minds of Adam, Gansey, and even a small amount concerning Ronan. There are moments with Noah, but I'm going to say that his moments are more heartbreaking and full of conflict for the future than growth for the better--in fact, I'm beginning to worry for him as the series approaches the end and what will become of sweet, adorable, loving Noah.
"I'm tired of it," Noah said.
"Tired of what?" Gansey asked, voice kind.
He had been crying. That was what was wrong with his face, Blue realized. Nothing supernatural.
The friendships between our small group continue to grow stronger though, and that's what I really love about this series.
- As for Gansey, my love for him continues to be reinforced, over and over again. He's got a vulnerability that had always been lurking in the background that we get to see more of and comprehend in a better light. He's concerned for the fate of his friends, he fears for the fate of his own life, he's distressed over what had happened to him in the past (his death on the ley line and being brought back to life while another's life was taken), he's concerned for his friendships: Ronan's self-destructive behavior, Adam being too proud to ask anyone for help, Blue's current situation with her missing mother, Noah's continued decaying spirit...
I like that Adam is starting to understand better the workings of Gansey's person--that he's not just some entitled rich boy who wants the world to work the way he envisions it. That it's not that he's continuously treating Adam as an outsider or as a charity case, but that he genuinely just wants Adam to view each other as friends and equals. While he's not very good at it, he constantly tip-toes around his friends with his actions and words so he doesn't end up offending them or hurting them. Except at the same time, Gansey accepts that he is who he is and makes use of his position and his advantages to make life easier for everyone else.
I love his passion for his journey and his interactions with other people. I like that Gansey is self-aware of how people view him and how he views himself and he doesn't deny the truths.
"You better wait in the car with your fancy face."
Gansey was too aware of his face's fanciness to protest.
Also... I love how nerdy Gansey is:
Gansey caught sight of Blue then, and he rewarded her with his best smile--not his polished one, but the more foolish number that meant he was excited. "Hallo, Jane. Tell me what Iolo Goch means to you."
Blue pulled her thoughts from Ronan's mask and Noah and school. "A chest cold?"
"Glendower's closest poet," Gansey corrected. "Also, very funny."
"They were very poetlitical--poet--political." Gansey laughed at his own stumble. "Poets were political. I know that's not really a tongue twister. I've been listening to Malory all day. P-p-political. Poets [...] Really, if Glendower were Robin Hood, Iolo Goch would have been... that other guy."
Blue loved this ponderous, scholarly Gansey, too involved with facts to consider how he appeared on the outside.
Finally, we come to the end of this "quote-bombing" somewhat of a review... which I will round off with some tidbits and many more quotes from the book.
First of all, I have a love for running gags and long running jokes, and this book is just chock full of them that keep springing up at all the most random moments when you least expect a running gag.
1. Gansey's insistence on calling Blue by the name he'd given her in the first book, Jane, because it was easier to remember and more common. In turn, his British professor friend ends up calling her Jane as well and this has continued on for three books. It's sweetly adorable in a weird way.
2. Blue's shortness is called to question. I wasn't ever aware that Blue's vertically challenged stature was an issue in the previous two books, but it keeps coming up and I love how Blue is sometimes offended, how her boys will hit her with this same joke, and how she can turn right back around and use the gag to her own benefit. But mainly it just kind of comes out of nowhere.
"Oh, yes, you are blue," Malory agreed. "How perceptive you are. What was the name? Jane? This is the lady I spoke to on the phone all those months ago, right? How small she is. Are you done growing?"
3. The Murder Squash song... is what I think it's called. We first see it mentioned when Ronan is asked to sing in the cave to keep time since he knows "a lot of songs all the way through, and can do them the same speed and length every time." And yes, while I was a little taken by that, it brought up the Murder Squash song that we only get to see the first four words to each time it comes up:
"Squash on, squash two, s--" before someone cuts it off. Apparently Adam and Gansey are highly offended by this song and Ronan and Noah find it highly amusing to taunt the former two with it occasionally.
I'm afraid that if I keep going this rather useless post will go on forever, so I probably should just stop here.
On a note about the romance, I'm glad that it's such a subtle part of the story. The forbidden, angsty love slowly building between Gansey and Blue is bittersweet, as it had started to become since the previous book. The knowledge that getting together would hurt Adam's feelings lingers, the change in equilibrium between their group of friends remains a factor that neither is willing to disrupt, and just as well, the curse that Blue began the story with, wherein kissing her true love would kill him...
All of this just continues to build tension between Gansey and Blue on top of the continued existence of a social status difference between her and Gansey.
But since The Raven Cycle hinges more on the friendship dynamics of Blue and her Raven Boys, it's probably just as well that the romance takes a backseat in light of everything else that's happening around the kids.
Conclusion: Love! Feels! Awesomes! Gansey!
"Her aura is like yours--it's blue," he said. "The clairvoyant aura!"
"Is it?" She was going to be extremely annoyed if this was how she had gotten her name--like naming a puppy Fluffy.
"Mirrors," Gwenllian cooed. "That is what we are. When you hold a candle in front of a glass, doesn't it make the room twice as bright? So do we, blue lily, lily blue."