The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

ravencycle_maggiestiefvaterThe Raven Cycle series, by Maggie Stiefvater, finally came to a close this spring with the release of her fourth installment, The Raven King. After finishing the first book, titled The Raven Boys, this series quickly jumped high onto the list of my favorite books. The more I read, the higher it climbed. Stiefvater’s characterization and descriptive language is enthralling, bringing me to actually set down the book and relish over a line or two of pure perfection multiple times.

This series deals with magic, mystery, romance, but above all- friendship. The main cast of characters are deeply developed and intricate, and the story gives us a thorough look into their pasts, presents, and heck, even their looming futures.

Blue Sargent, the main female lead, is the only non-psychic in a family of seers, but she has the ability to amplify their clairvoyant powers. For this reason, Blue accompanies her Aunt Neeve on St. Mark’s Eve to go to an abandoned churchyard; St. Mark’s Eve is the day of the year when psychics can see the ghosts of the people who are going to die in the following year walk along the Corpse Road. Blue has never been able to see these ghosts- until tonight.

She asks this sole visible ghost his name- Gansey- and her Aunt explains that the only reason that Blue, a nonseer, would see a ghost is if he’s her true love- or if she’s the one who kills him. Gansey, very much alive, has spent the past couple of years researching the legend of the dead Welsh King Glendower. Legend says he was buried on a magical ley line, and whoever wakes him gets a favor. He and his best friends Adam, Ronan, and Noah devote their time to finding this sleeping king and recruit Blue into their questing court.

The series offers many twists and turns, oftentimes surprising me with a suspenseful showdown or a magical revelation. The more I learned about the characters, the more I loved them and feared for them as their stories grew darker and darker. The characterization stands out as the highlight of the series. Stiefvater chips away at the inner beings of each character until we have a roadmap of each one, pointing out their fears and flaws and tracing their dreams and desires. Out of the main five characters, Blue is the only female, but her family- who we spend lots of time getting to know- is overflowing with a cast of unique, quirky, and psychic women, giving us a wide array of female side characters. Gansey, Adam, and Ronan are my personal favorites; their dynamics are very complicated and interesting, and I anticipated the chapters written from their points-of-view most of all. Stiefvater’s imagination is abundant, and it is evident as she builds her world in the small town of Henrietta.

I have and will continue to recommend this series to any avid readers I come across, for it was a wild ride that I will never forget. The four books- The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue, and The Raven King– have secured their positions as some of my favorite books, and I hope they will continue to be recognized in the future as the truly captivating novels they are.

-Abby F.

The Raven Boys and the rest of the Raven Cycle novels are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Book Review: The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater

scorpio_racesKate Connolly, also known as Puck, is in danger of losing her house. Her parents both died several years ago. Gabe, her older brother, is leaving the island and going to the mainland, leaving Puck and her younger brother alone. The only solution Kate has is to ride in The Scorpio Races.

Sean Kendrick, the most famous rider in the Scorpio Races also has high stakes for winning the race this year. His boss, Benjamin Malvern, owner of practically all of the island, has changed things up this year. Sean has never been so desperate to win.

The Scorpio Races is the story of these two young adults who live on Thisby, an island whose lives revolve around the capaill uisce, the deadly water horses. The Scorpio Races are the main attraction of the island, where riders compete to control their horses and to win the race. Not everyone will survive. Puck and Sean cannot both win.

To be honest, I enjoyed this novel greatly. It seems to have a dark storyline, but I was fascinated by the mystical water horses and captivated by the parallel stories of Puck and Sean. Unlike many teen novels I have read, this book did not have much romanticism; it was pretty clean. Additionally, though somewhat subtly, this book had a message of the feminist movement, since the Scorpio Races were a male-dominated event until Kate arrived.

Overall, I found this novel to be a good read. It is definitely different than most books you could pick up from the shelves, but I would certainly recommend it.

– Leila S., 9th grade

Book Review: The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater

dream_thieves_coverIf you could take anything from your dreams, what would you steal? But what if you couldn’t always choose what you took, and you brought back a nightmare?

Ronan has this talent. As far as he knows, he is the only one besides his deceased father, who was killed by this secret. But it isn’t the only secret out there. The ley lines, a kind of energy source for spiritual activity, have awakened, so they should be stronger than ever. Why then are they weaker than before?

Any fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy should definitely read this book. There is an air of mystery and magic that pulls the plot along. I liked how this is the second book in a series, yet I felt everything important in the first book, The Raven Boys, was explained well without being repetitive. If at all possible, this book was even better than the first. Although, reading the first book made me appreciate the characters’ growth more than if I hadn’t.

Speaking of characters, they were all distinct and complemented one another in their differences. Blue, the only girl, destined to kill her true love with a kiss; Adam, who feels like nothing, but has a greater importance than he realizes; Ronan, forbidden to return to his childhood home; Gansey, obsessed with an ancient Welsh king, Glendower, and will probably die within the year; and the Gray Man, the most mysterious of all, always remaining inconspicuous in order to complete his job as a hit man. The only question is: who is his target?

From the very beginning, the story had me completely hooked. It is one of those books you can’t put down and end up reading late into the night. I only had a couple of issues with this book. The first problem was there were several chapters where Blue wasn’t mentioned once. With such a prominent role, it was strange for her to go missing for chapters on end. Instead, characters who were more secondary had bigger roles, like Ronan and Adam had major parts to play. I understand they were doing important things in that time, but I would have preferred just one chapter from Blue’s perspective intermixed with those chapters. (Everything is in the third person, so you never have to worry who is talking.) Another thing was, even though it wasn’t everywhere, there was too much cursing for my taste. Ronan is the main perpetrator, so with more chapters about him, it makes sense there was more cursing than the last book. Even with those complaints, it a truly amazing read.

-Nicole G., 10th grade

Must-Read Books of Fall 2013

Between new school schedules and a ton of homework, is there time to seek out new books? Of course! Here is a list of books I am planning to read this fall. I have been waiting months for all of them, so they’d better be amazing. Hope you enjoy them, too.

dream_thieves_cover1. The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: September 17th

This is the second book of The Raven Cycle where the ley lines have woken and ensure the lives Blue and her raven boys- Ronan, Gansey, and Adam- will never be the same. For Ronan, dreams are merging with reality. Meanwhile, the Cabeswater puzzle Gansey is trying to solve has taken the interest of some sinister people.

house_of_hades_cover2. House of Hades, by Rick Riordan
Release Date: October 8th

With a cliffhanger in the previous book, the continuation of The Heroes of Olympus continues the adventure of seven half-bloods with no time for failure as they travel to seal the Doors of Death. If they succeed, how will Percy and Annabeth ever escape the depths of Tartarus?

allegiant_cover3. Allegiant, by Veronica Roth
Release Date: October 22nd

The ending to the Divergent series. When everything Tris knew is shattered, she goes beyond the fence and what awaits her may be worse than what she left behind. This book is told from dual perspectives (which I’m hoping includes Four’s point of view).

champion.indd4. Champion, by Marie Lu

Release Date: November 5th

The Legend trilogy comes to a close. The Republic is improving, but with a new plague and possible war, the cost to save thousands of lives might mean the one June loves to give up everything.

horizon_cover5. Horizon, by Alyson Noël
Release Date: November 19th

This is the fourth and final book of the Soul Seekers series. Daire must face her archenemy, the Richters. Is there a worse foe out on the horizon that could end the world? Will Daire survive? Can love conquer all?

All these books are far along in a series, so I suggest reading the previous books before getting to this list. Which book are you most looking forward to? I honestly can’t choose. Happy reading!

-Nicole G., 10th grade