Book Review: The Raven Cycle, Books 1 & 2

The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2)

For as much as I enjoy young adult literature, there hasn’t been a novel in the genre lately that’s caused me giddy excitement. Like, hop on Tumblr excitement. Until The Raven Boys.

The Raven Cycle is one of those series that you hear about, almost viral. It starts with one person gushing over it and before you know it, anywhere you turn, there’s the book community talking about it. Like any good YA series, I didn’t notice the fuss until the final book was due to be published. As usual—oops.

The Raven Boys & The Dream Thieves are the first two books in Maggie Stiefvater’s series of a not-psychic girl—Blue—born to a psychic line of women and the unlikely friends she finds in preppy Aglionby school boys as they hunt for a legendary king. Oh, did I mention that Blue has been warned that she’ll cause her true love to die? And she’s seen who it is? Not a spoiler; it’s on the jacket.

The Raven Boys chronicles Blue’s first clairvoyant experience and her befriending of the “Raven Boys”—Gansey, Ronan, Adam, & Noah. As a gaggle of rich, private school boys, they’re not exactly Blue’s usual crowd, yet she finds herself drawn to Gansey and the others. Supernatural fate would have them team up to awaken the mystical ley line in their small town to find a legendary lost king. Sans spoilers, it goes without saying that things don’t quite go as planned (hence a book two, three, and four in the series) and The Dream Thieves picks up on their adventure, as Ronan discovers he can take objects out of dreams an into the real world…

It’s truly enough to know the overall arc of the series without my ruining what each book (at least so far) delves into. Both arcs—Blue’s grappling with knowing she’ll kill her true love, and the friends’ search for the legendary Glendower—are suspenseful on their own. The magic of the world that’s awakened by the ley line is supernatural in a way that isn’t reliant on the gritty werewolf/vampire storylines of most YA novels. It’s actually magical. The writing is fresh and humorous, despite Blue’s cloud of doom hanging overhead. And, thankfully, Stiefvater doesn’t jam humor down your throat in the way that a lot of YA authors try to force wit and sarcasm on readers; it’s much more natural and used sparingly.

What really shines, though, are the characters. Each member of the group shares the spotlight (and even moments with Blue’s mother and aunts are delightfully anticipated!) and brings a personality of their own. The Raven Boys are much more than entitled and “dreamy” schoolboys, and Blue has enough nuance to not peg her as another Strong Female Character of a female-led YA novel. Their friendship feels like the real star.

With two books that fit the “can’t put it down” bill, I’m itching to get my hands on the third book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Though, I’m also struggling with that feeling where I don’t want the series to end…

 

  • Kay

    AHHH KRISTIN!!! I’m so excited for you to finish the series! I too didn’t hear about this series until after they were all out but I am so glad. If I’d had to wait to read the final book, I’d have lost it. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is just wonderful, I hope you read it soon! But make sure you have quick access to The Raven King. 🙂

    I actually had a hard time reviewing this series on my blog since when I try and talk about it I tend to devolve into babbling fangirl speak. I so, so wish all YA were written this beautifully.

    • It’s been so long since something has reduced me to babbling fangirl status, but I think this is it, haha! Noted—I’ll make sure the library has both available 🙂

  • *sobbing* I just love this series so mu-hu-huch! And I’m so glad you’ve started reading it! Like you (and Kay!) I didn’t hear about it until the last book was coming out, I assume because that’s around the time I started bookstagramming, and it still took me a couple of months to read them, which I only did because I found a signed copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue at Barnes & Noble one night. Then I read them and had a panic because my library’s online catalog said they were out of copies of TRK, but I went to check anyway and am so glad I did. I can’t wait for TRK to come out in paperback so I can have a complete set. I’m just so happy that you’ve been reading them AND that you enjoy them!!

    • A signed copy—what!?!? That’s amazing! Ok, so I definitely just need to cave and get the complete set so I don’t have to wait between #3 & #4.

  • The Raven Cycle is definitely a stand-out among YA series. Stiefvater has an amazing gift with words and descriptions and characters. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is my least favorite of the series, but it does introduce a new secondary character who’s a total DELIGHT. And as much as I, too, didn’t want the series to end, The Raven King is exceptional.

    Related: Did you year the news that the series has been optioned for TV?

    • I posted this and literally saw the TV news right after! I’m super excited to see how that comes to life! I tend to not like second-things in a series, so I was a little surprised to find that The Dream Thieves was so solid, but maybe Blue Lily, Lily Blue is that kind of book for me, who knows. Is Steifvater’s other stuff just as amazing?

  • That’s kind of the vibe I got from the Wolves… books, from what I’ve seen/heard at least. So I wasn’t sure where the others fell. I didn’t know she was doing Ronan books!?!?! AWESOME. Ronan’s definitely the most interesting so I’m all on board, haha.

    • You’ve only read the first two, yes? He gets infinitely more interesting by the end of the series. 😉 #nospoilers

  • Couldn’t agree more! I’ve also only read the first two books so far, but it’s been a while, so I’m thinking of binge reading the entire series some time soon… 🙂

    • I’m actually amazed I haven’t just locked myself in a room and finished the whole series, haha.