Sunday, June 18, 2017
Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
“It was just that there was something newly powerful about this assembled family in the car. They were all growing up and into each other like trees striving together for the sun.”
There's this weird and twisty sensation at the pit of my stomach when I consider how underwhelming this book was and the fact that I am giving it lower than a four star rating. I should have known that such a fantastic series would end on a fizzle rather than a bang. When I started The Raven Cycle, I never expected to like it--yet I loved it. In one swift movement, Maggie Stiefvater took up a new place in my heart with her whimsical word, each fantastic character and the elegant/unique tone her prose takes as stories unfold. The Raven King has many of her signature qualities but seems to trip over itself all too often and leave you feeling as though something is missing.
Now, this isn't to say that the novel itself wasn't good. In my opinion it was solid enough but not quite enough to balance the weight of the first three books. I felt disappointed and as if an old friend had invited me over only to rush me out the door after a half hour tea. The Raven King had its moments of greatness and surely was fast and entertaining. As per usual, Stiefvater has a smart and magical way with words. So what made the balance break? I... can't actually put my finger on it.
Whereas the first time I read the beginning of the series--and have revisited sense--I felt a sort of tingle whilst reading, that pure joy that comes with finding a good novel, this time something felt off. Beyond its obvious flaws (which you have no doubt heard of upon its release last year) it just didn't feel as magical as before. I almost felt like Maggie hadn't written it entirely (though we all know she did) and it was all very frustratingly lackluster. None of it felt like a finale--it felt like a chapter that remained unfinished but was still published. I can't explain it beyond that.
The characters were charming, sure, but that feeling of connection between me and them was missing in action. There was an abundance of loose ends and more questions than answers, which felt... hm, let's say appallingly lazy. I closed the prologue and I was stoked for the future of these characters--I mean: Blue, Henry and Gansey; Adam and Ronan. The lack of Noah left a gaping whole in the final book and it just felt like there could have been so much more done to provide proper closure.
The Raven King felt like an afterthought to an absolutely spellbinding series and I couldn't help but wonder: is this really all there is? Sadly, yes. At least we'll always have the first three books.
Pros: Adam/Ronan. Blue/Gansey. Henry.
Cons: Noah fading. Piper. Problematic nods in dialogue and such. Blah-blah-blah... you've already heard it. I'd never really considered how many unfortunate qualities there were in the original series but in this closing number--they are obvious. All I feel is underwhelmed and a bit disappointed. Out of all the books in the series, this is the sloppiest and least loved. Thankfully, it didn't ruin the books or the characters for me so while I won't be rereading this particular installment the rest of the series still holds a special place in my heart.
A forgettable end to an unforgettable story.