Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reading Challenge Books 26-29: The Raven Cycle


This will be my last update for today (so many updates!). This one is a group update for a series of four books I finished this morning. I learned about this series when I was teaching in Alaska because The Raven Boys was selected for Battle of the Books. I think only one of my girls read it for the competition, but it was one I definitely wanted to read. My roommate told me she had started reading the The Raven Boys and I immediately downloaded all four onto my Kindle app. I'm ever so glad that I did.

Maggie Steifvater

Bucking the deeply-entrenched trilogy trend, The Raven Cycle is a four-book series of fantastic young adult literature. The so-called Raven Boys are four boys who attend a prestigious and wealthy prep school, and they are befriended by Blue, a non-psychic in a family of psychics. The boys are searching for Glendower, a Welsh king who was moved from the UK to the US hundreds of years ago. There's much more to the series than that, but I don't want to give you too much more. There is so much I like about this series but I don't want to put too much down on here because I really want you to go and read it. No, seriously. I want you to read these books because they're wonderful.

Friendship and love are two underlying themes, but this isn't necessarily a love story. Pagan beliefs and magic permeate the four-book series, but it's never pushy or obtrusive. Rather, the psychics and their abilities are presented as-is, just facts of life and people of the world. They are some of the most realistic characters I have ever read about, and their fantastic abilities don't make this book feel like a fantasy novel. Rather, it tugs at the strings that exist within us all, the lost hope that maybe, just maybe, there is still magic in the world.

  • Gansey is a wealthy Aglionby student and the leader of the Raven Boys. He was killed seven years ago by multiple hornet stings (he's seriously allergic), but he died on a ley line and was given a second chance by Glendower. The experience gave his young life purpose, and he spent the rest of his time learning everything he could about Glendower and ley lines. He discovered that if he could wake Glendower he would earn a favor. It became his life's obsession.
  • Ronan is another rich Aglionby student, but he is edgy and rough where Gansey is polite and refined. Ronan has a special power THAT I CAN'T GET OUT OF MY HEAD BECAUSE IT IS SERIOUSLY ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING THINGS I'VE EVER HEARD OF, never lies, and is fiercely loyal to Gansey.
  • Adam, though an Aglionby student, is a poor kid from a trailer park. His mother is emotionally abusive, his father is physically abusive, and he works three jobs and uses financial aid in order to attend Aglionby. He wants to rise above his stars and make a better life for himself.
  • Noah, the fourth "raven boy," is a quiet, sullen student at Aglionby. He lives with Gansey and Ronan, doesn't eat much, and is typically relegated to the background. He is, however, incredibly important to the story.
  • Blue is a Henrietta native who doesn't like raven boys, yet gets mixed up with them all the same. She grows up in a house full of magic, as her mother and the other women at 300 Fox Way are all psychics. Blue, however, is not...but she has the special ability to amplify the psychic powers of others (sort of like Ando from Heroes). She has also been told by psychics from a very young age that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Henrietta and its environs. The world and characters that Stiefvater created here are brought to life with wonderful writing. I know she has another four-book series, as well as some other works, and I know that I will be putting them on my reading list soon. Now that you've finished reading my blog post you need to go download The Raven Boys and get started on this series. Excelsior!

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