|(I can’t find the source for this – if you know where it’s
from, please let me know)
I have a lot of loves and passions and hobbies.
Obviously, there’s sewing, which is primarily what I’ve blogged about before. And coffee. Coffee is pretty much the thing that keeps me going on tough days…well, on any day actually.
But books. Books are my first and truest love (Sorry Mr Cuckoo, but you know it’s true!). I even named this blog after one of my favourite children’s books. I think I’m more grateful to my parents for instilling a love of the written word in me more than anything else. Reading to me is as essential as breathing (sorry for the trite phrasing, but it’s true!) I often get asked if I get tired of reading (I read for work) and the answer is ‘No.’ Always no.
No matter how bad a day has been, or how low I’m feeling, or how much pain I’m in, or how bad an argument it was, just half an hour of reading can take me away, take me out of myself and into someone else’s viewpoint, and when I come back, the problem doesn’t feel quite so immediate, and I can see the problem with fresh eyes.
Plus, every book is a whole new universe, and I get to visit when I read. How is that not amazing?
All this to say: I want to start talking about books on my blog. I love having the opportunity to discuss what’s happening in a book I’m reading, with someone who has read/is already reading/wants to read it, so it makes sense to share it with the internets, in case anyone out there comes across this and thinks: ‘Sounds like something I’d enjoy reading’ or ‘I loved that book too!’
So, without further ado, here’s a bit of a review of my current reads:
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater
|The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle Book 1)|
- For starters, the whole ‘If you kiss your true love, he will die’ motif made me roll my eyes so far back in my head, I thought I’d fall over. Talk about your average fairy tale concept of telling the innocent, hapless girl that love is dangerous, stay away.
- I also tend to find the ‘your love is fated’ trope fairly hackneyed, and a bit boring.
- Psychics are NOT my thing at all. I read an obscene amount of sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, you name it, and I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, but I find the non-specific ‘woo-woo’ nature of psychics’ and clairvoyants’ predictions annoying.
- This is quite a small thing, I found it really annoying that the main female character was called ‘Blue’. I’m still trying to work out why that is, exactly… if I manage to wrangle my thoughts into any kind of concrete idea about it, I’ll add an edit.
- And the Raven Boys. Initially, it annoyed me that there was a rich-poor divide, with the princely, accomplished and privileged boys and the poor, ‘alternative’ female. Ugh. So many ughs. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to invest any time in reading about self-important, rich teenage boys and their angst.
I actually read the first 20% or so (I’m reading them on my Kindle), and then bought another book, because I was fairly sure I wouldn’t get much further without throwing the book across the room (figuratively, not literally, it’s a new Kindle, and they aren’t cheap).
- Blue Sargent is not your stereotypical YA female lead. She’s not sitting around waiting for a prince to come along and save her. In fact, she is actively avoiding it. As a distinctly ‘ordinary’ member of a very extraordinary family, one of her ‘powers’ is just how practical she is. In many extreme situations, Blue is the voice of reason and her realism is what seems to ground even the most fantastic and magical of situations. And I love that. Her questioning and pragmatism mirror what the reader (or, well, me at least) is thinking.
- The Raven Boys are not your typical hard-done-to rich boys. They seem to be, but Maggie Stiefvater has done such a brilliant job in rounding out their characters that even when they’re being selfish, privileged ass-hats, you can see why they’re behaving that way, and before you have time to get more than a little irritated, their poor behaviour is immediately challenged by another of the boys, or Blue herself.
- Gansey is a complicated leader. He’s charismatic, driven, charming and endearing, but he’s also forever saying the wrong thing, slightly clueless, and underneath it all he’s unsure of his motivations and scared.
- Ronan seems like an angry, violent and prickly teenage boy, who just wants to break things and race cars. And yet he’s not. He’s caring when he thinks no one is looking, supportive and faithful to Gansey above all things, and as the story progresses, the more complex and endearing he is.
- Adam is the poor boy impostor, who works harder than anyone in an attempt to extricate himself from his terrible home life. But the chip on his shoulder and his mood swings are not automatically forgiven because of his past. He can be a likeable character one minute, and then annoy the crap out of me in the next.
- Noah is simultaneously the simplest of the Raven Boys, and the most complicated. And I don’t really want to say too much more about him, for fear of spoilers. He is the least well-rounded character, but I’m hoping there may be more about Noah’s back story in book 4 ‘The Raven King’.
- The relationship between the boys (and to a lesser extent, Blue) is rich, and complicated, and full of love (although they don’t know how to express it) and is redolent of the old school, chivalric order that Gansey is so intrigued with.
- There are quite a few references to Gansey’s journal, which documents his search for the *something supernatural* mentioned earlier, and a lot of discussion about his studies and research. But these are things mentioned in passing and then never really elaborated on. As a geek, I want Steifvater to show me this research, not just tell me that it exists. I’d love to get even just a section of Gansey’s journal to read, some excerpts here and there, and maybe a few scenes in which the research is mentioned. It would make it all the more believable and immersive for me.
- Noah. As I mentioned above, I don’t feel like his character has been developed enough. There are reasons for this, that I’m deliberately not mentioning, because spoilers, but even so, I feel like Stiefvater is breezing over Noah a bit and not really grounding him in the narrative, which I feel is a little bit lazy. As I said, I’m hoping that this will be resolved in the final book, but if it isn’t, I will probably be a bit disappointed.
- There don’t really seem to be any repercussions or ramifications for the characters, despite THINGS HAPPENING that, realistically, would involve more investigation by the police, and would have an impact on the way the characters would behave. In particular, there’s a scene at the end of Book 2: The Dream Thieves (my current favourite) that I’m SURE ought to have resulted in more fallout. But, it didn’t even really get mentioned again, which I felt was very unrealistic.
Despite these little irritations, I really love these books. I enjoy the characters, I like the setting, I love the fact that any kind of romance is a complication that distracts the characters from their motivations, rather than being the main driving-force of the plot, as is often the case in YA fiction.
Basically, if you’re interested in YA books, or even just urban fantasy, do yourself a favour and try these out!
I’m going to go back to Book 4 now, and do my damnedest not to read it as quickly as I did the others!