The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)
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.
The cycle is ending. Glendower is nearly found, and the evil awoken in book #3 is on the move. Not everyone is making it through this alive.
What I Liked:
The highlight, as it has been since book #2, was Ronan. Still endearingly foul-mouthed and attitudinally maladaptive. His chemistry with the other characters, as well as with the Raven Boys as a unit, is what kept me reading—even when the answers we finally received seemed less than satisfying. In this book, it finally occurred to me that the reason I love him so is because he’s basically a late-teen version of Buford from Phineas and Ferb.
(And if you’ve now joined me in this revelation and can’t help reading Ronan’s dialogue in Buford’s voice… you’re welcome. >.>)
For all his faults, Ronan is loyal, fearless, unconventionally loving, and very much his own person. With the close of this series, he’s the character I’m most sad to say goodbye to.
Stiefvater’s prose, as usual, maintains her uniquely ethereal style. Emotions are well threaded, yet subtly presented. And supernatural aspects are granted a pleasantly eerie weight.
What Didn’t Work For Me:
In a lot of ways, this book felt different from the previous three books in the series. The scene arrangement was disjointed, and the pacing lagged at several points. But the most memorable things I take issue with are entirely worldbuilding and plot-hole related:
*The addition of Henry.
I spent most of this book suspecting he was some terrible infiltrating foe—a last-minute addition to the evil badguy list. But as it turned out, it was a more straightforward case than that. He’s simply a last-minute add-on to the Gansey entourage who doubles as a plot device. A bonus Raven Boy who, unfortunately, felt tossed in as an afterthought—(perhaps to add some needed cultural diversity?) Had he been significantly threaded in through at least one or two of the previous books, I could have accepted his presence more readily. But as he also brought along some cringey moments of self-hating racism, I don’t know how much more readily.
*The Killing Kiss.
The tension that had been so skillfully maintained between Blue and Gansey in the previous three books comes to a much-anticipated head. The prophetic kiss o’ destiny. I don’t think it’s any kind of spoiler to note that it does happen, and it does what everyone’s afraid it will do.
But WHY? No attempt at an answer is given. Are Blue’s lips made of some magical cyanide that’s tailored only to Gangey? Is her spit deadly because of her unique half-breed nature? Is she doomed to never be able to kiss anyone? WE DON’T KNOW. And Blue is remarkably incurious as to these aspects as well…
*Blue’s paternal origins.
Well hinted at throughout the previous books, we finally have a reveal! And… I’m beyond disappointed. Not so much at the reveal itself, but at the lack of reflection/introspection that comes of it. Blue gets one scene for processing, and then it never seems to enter her mind again. It doesn’t really seem to matter. And the more I’ve let this sit, the more I’m let down by the lack of foreshadowing in Blue’s nature leading up to it.
Blue herself ends up being more of a backseat character in this book—her sole purpose seemingly to fulfill her… uh… destiny?... and bring about Gansey’s inexplicable death.
*Oh, and there’s a demon.
And if that sounds like its coming out of left field… that’s exactly how it felt to this reader. Don’t hope for any kind of previous allusion to it, or explanation for it.
It’s there. It’s one of the villains. Deal with it.
*Noah’s character arch/resolution was more of an inconsequential petering off.
*And I may have totally missed something, but all that 06:21 repetition (which sure seemed like foreshadowing) turned out to be… nothing. Of no particular significance.
To be clear, not everything has to tie up neatly. I don’t mind some loose threads. But when there are too many, the entire tapestry unravels. Suspension of disbelief has to be spent on more than the paranormal elements—extending also to the story structure, plot, and internal lives of the characters. That’s expecting an awful lot from the readers.
I had overall enjoyed this series and appreciated the complexity I’d thought it was leading up to. I’m very sorry to admit it just didn’t come together for me.
The Raven King was the stunning conclusion to The Raven Cycle series. It was a magical, adventurous and mesmerizing! I loved Ronan and Adam, it was perfect. Blue and Gansey were also perfect together!
I also liked how there was a lot of humor especially from Ronan. There was so much happening through out the book and I wasn't sure how it was going to end. Maggie Stiefvater did an amazing job with The Raven Cycle series, it was hard to put down and unpredictable!
I was happy with the ending and how it all worked out. This is one series that I will never forget and thoroughly enjoyed!
There were several things fans had been dying to see in the concluding novel: we all know that Blue’s true love is Gansey, and that it is her destiny to kill her true love, so we’re all left wondering just how the hell Maggie Stiefvater was going to work her way around this trap she had neatly embroiled herself in. We were also waiting for the long awaited Pynch kiss that Stiefvater had teased over a year ago. And finally, the discovery of Owen Glendower was, at least for me, the culminating revelation that I was most excited about.
Unfortunately, these fell short for me. And trust me when I say that was difficult to write, because I deeply love these characters and I found myself faced with a terrible decision: do I rate this book based on my feelings or based on actual facts? I decided to go with facts.
(warning: spoilers below)
Glendower: Gansey finally finds Glendower after years of searching, only to find the long-lost king dead and not sleeping as Gwen had been in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. And that really confused me. I had suspected that Glendower would be dead when he was found, but why was he? Gwen wasn’t. How did he die? Had he always been dead or did he die after centuries? I mean, the entire series’ premise is Gansey finding this lost king and asking him for a favour and then it … just doesn’t happen. I felt so cheated. The final 50 pages felt very anticlimactic. The rest of the book moved at a slow pace, which I enjoyed, and yet the last couple of chapters sped up very quickly and all of a sudden Gansey is following some random birds and he finds Glendower. He finds Glendower in the very spot Gansey almost died years ago. Obviously, there is a connection and yet I cannot make sense of it. Because that brings up more questions than it answers. From my understanding, Glendower was the one who saved Gansey all those years ago, because that’s what sets Gansey on his life-long mission to finding Glendower in the first place. He was told to. But if Glendower was dead, he could not have saved Gansey. So who did? Cabeswater? The ley line? The demon? Gwenllian? Fate? For myself, it would make the most sense if Glendower saved him, considering Gansey was saved above the very spot Glendower was buried. Is that not what the past three books were suggesting? Unless I misinterpreted it, and if someone knows the answer, please do not hesitate to comment and let me know.
New characters and extra chapters: I was also very confused by the inclusion of certain characters. All of a sudden, we are introduced to chapters from the perspectives of extra and new characters: Gwen, Piper, Neeve, Lauminor and even the demon. Some of these chapters were important, I understand. But others not at all. I was not entirely sure of the relevance of Piper trying to sell the demon: if I had a demon I would use it to take over the world, not sell it to the highest bidder. Why was it so important that Lauminor was her father? These people and their storylines, to me, did not correlate with the main plot of the series. With the inclusion of these characters, I felt like we barely saw the original ones: Noah was all but lost to this story, he was in it for like 5 minutes. We barely even saw Blue!
The writing style: I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. She is verbose, yet subtle and really makes the reader think. The same cannot be said for this book. Almost every chapter started with “Depending on where you begin, this story is about …” I practically groaned every time I read that. It got dry so quickly. I read a review months ago on this book where someone commented that each chapter felt like its own story, rather than a part of novel, and I can’t help but agree. The style of writing affected the progression of the story to the point where it felt as though nothing happened, at least until the last few chapters.
Henry Cheng: I am about to say some potentially scandalous remarks, so please do not get angry. I did not like Henry Cheng. I mean, he was a nice guy, but did he truly have any relevance to the book? No. His robotic bee was weird and just plain silly. The fact that his mother was another Greywaren was just as confusing, because it had me wondering just how many dream walkers there are in the world. I would say Cheng’s only importance in the novel was the fact that he gave Gansey his school sweater that he dies in. The book could have focussed more on our beloved original characters, instead of this newbie and would have been much better off for it, too.
The ending: In order to save Ronan and Adam, a willing sacrifice must be offered. Gansey makes that sacrifice with his life by getting Blue to kiss him, fulfilling her prophecy. The scene occurred very quickly for me, and I had to read over the kiss and Gansey’s reanimation several times to understand it. The 6.21 thing also took a while to understand.
Questions: I have so many questions after reading this book.
How did Glendower die?
Why did he die when the demon and his daughter didn’t?
Was he always dead?
Who brought Gansey back to life?
Where is the Grey Man?
Will he come back or run forever?
Does Blue have the ability to turn into a tree like her dad?
If she can, does that mean she’s immortal?
Why did Henry go away with Blue and Gansey?
Will Henry, Gansey and Blue end up in a polyamorous relationship now that they’ve run off altogether?
When Blue and Gansey kiss again, will he die once more or was it only the one time?
What in the hell was the point of Robobee?
What was the point of Orphan Girl?
Will Adam and Ronan adopt Orphan Girl?
Will Adam and Ronan date?
How will they date if Adam is away at college?
Why was Noah so insignificant?
If his body was still on the ley line, why can’t he come back if Gansey can?
Or at least continue as a ghost?
Was it because he was dead for too long?
The final book in a series supposed to answer the questions posed in the first novel, not add to them. Unfortunately, this was not the case here.
Now, while I found the book confusing and all-over-the-place, I did enjoy some parts, too.
Characterisation: The characters really shined in this book. Blue was fantastic as usual and I enjoyed reading about her questioning what she is going to do with her future. Gansey was beautiful: in the other books we get this superficial version of Gansey who is almost too good to be true. His friends revere him like a king. Here, we see that he is flawed and sacred and just a boy who thinks he is going to die. Adam really grew in this book, too. He is no longer afraid of his father and able to acknowledge the abuse he suffered was terrible. His feelings for Ronan were wonderful to see grow. Speaking of … I just adore Ronan. He has been my favourite character since book one. To watch him come to terms with his feelings was amazing. He is not just the rough, sullen, closeted gay boy – he is gentle, loving, sweet and protective.
Relationships: I loved watching Blue and Gansey date. The scenes where they go on secret dates were precious to read, but I loved the moment where they tell Adam they are dating. I was happy to see them take into account his feelings. But, my favourite couple is, of course, Adam and Ronan. It begins as a secret crush in The Dream Thieves and progresses into so much more. Adam talking about his feelings for Ronan to Gansey made me laugh out loud. The kiss scene was beautiful, but I would have preferred a few more scenes with them together, perhaps acknowledging that they are going to be together. I liked that Ronan stated he wasn’t asking Adam to stay, only to come back, although I think the scene could have been better if he had actually said that to Adam, as opposed to just think it.
In the case of The Raven King, I think the hype for the book ruined the reading of it for me. I became so excited and caught up in the hysteria that I ended up with a bunch of expectations. I still love this series, but I wish the book had explained things a little better.