The Raven Cycle (Books 1-3)

I honestly wasn't even sure what Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle was about, but after multiple people recommended it to me, I finally picked up The Raven Boys in January. And now this series is CONSUMING ME FROM THE INSIDE (in the best way). 

I'm terrible at describing what this book is about because there are so many details and side plots and characters, and I want to give them all (well, most of them) attention, but I can't. So let's talk instead about the things I REALLY love. 

The Characters

The "raven boys" are a group of boys who attend Aglionby Academy, in Henrietta, Virginia. They each have distinct personalities and multilayered story lines. While some of the books focus on one character more than the others, each one is given a chance to develop. The magical thing about Maggie Stiefvater's characters is that they jump off the page. 

Ronan has the biggest personality. He is often angry and can be (borderline) cruel, but he's more complicated than an average thug. My friend Emillie compared him to Jess Mariano, and I think that's perfect: he comes across as badass, but if you're lucky enough for him to like you, he'll do anything for you. Ronan is the main focus in The Dream Thieves, and his story is fascinating. 

I am being perfectly fucking civil.
— Ronan Lynch, The Dream Thieves

You could say that Adam is my least favourite, but that doesn't mean I don't like him. Unlike his friends, Adam doesn't come from money; he has to work three jobs to pay for his schooling, and, while it doesn't bother them, he feels like he's a step away from them. This feeling intensifies after the first book, but I can't really get into why without spoiling so many things.  

My favourite raven boy is Gansey. He's from old money, and can be pretentious (though more often than not, one of the others will call him out for it), but he's the unofficial leader of the gang. He's the most invested when it comes to their quest to find the grave of the mythical Welsh king Glendower (it's not as ridiculous as I'm making it sound), something he's been looking for his entire life. He's also the one whose death Blue had a vision of at the beginning of the first book. 

Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.
— Blue Lily, Lily Blue

And then there's Blue (well, also Noah, but I REALLY can't talk about Noah without spoiling things). Of all the characters, Blue is the hardest to get a read on. She's an amplifier in a family of psychics, always dreaming of "something more". She's known for years that her true love will die if she kisses him - something she was never really worried about until she meets her raven boys. 

The Ships

Halfway through The Raven Boys, I realized I was shipping everyone with everyone else. Eventually, I narrowed it down to Gansey with everyone. And then midway through The Dream Thieves, I was so on board the Gansey/Blue train, I wanted to cry. They're the best type of YA couple: adorable with a heavy dose of tragedy. 

In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them.
Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness.
Her raven boys.
— The Dream Thieves

AND THEN, Ronan/[spoiler] became a ship I didn't know I wanted until Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Again, can't really go into major details without spoiling the whole experience for you, but MY HEART CAN BARELY HANDLE THESE RELATIONSHIPS. I don't know what's going to happen in The Raven King, but I might end up crying every tear imaginable. 

The Writing

I understand that not everyone will like her writing style, but right now, I'm in awe of Maggie Stiefvater. Her prose is lovely and effortless, her dialogue is witty, and her metaphors are outstanding. And all I've done for the past week is stand at work thinking "HOW ARE THEY GOING TO GET THEMSELVES OUT OF THIS PICKLE?" because her plotting is A+. 

My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.
— Gansey, The Raven Boys

Long story short: I 100% recommend The Raven Cycle. As long as you're okay with suffering from a book hangover once you're done.