I don't know why I assumed this was going to be a trilogy-- probably because most YA is, these days-- but it's on that assumption that I blame my cons...moreI don't know why I assumed this was going to be a trilogy-- probably because most YA is, these days-- but it's on that assumption that I blame my constant checking of the page count while I was reading, going, "HOW ARE THEY GOING TO FINISH EVERYTHING BY THE END OF THE BOOK??" Of course, it's now apparent that this series is going to have at least one more installment, for which I am very thankful.
I have mixed feelings about this series. On the one hand, there's a lot to love. Blue's wacky family and the number of awesome complex women it contains, the very real sense of place and the vividness of the settings Stiefvater creates, the magic forest, Ronan and Adam and their different magics... but I have always found it hard to give a shit about Gansey. It's not that I don't like him, but liking a character isn't necessarily important, and I have never felt him as a real person the way I feel Ronan and Adam. All he is is the quest, it seems; I know academically that there are other things happening to him in his life, his family, etc, but those things rarely come up in his POV, which makes him feel more like an absent narrator-- he moves along other people's plots, though, which is fine because I'm definitely more interested in what happens to Adam and Ronan than in whether or not they find Glendower.
Blue, I love, but feel like I've got less of a sense of who she is as the books have gone on-- in the beginning I loved the conflict between "hate all raven boys" and her impulse to keep getting to know Gansey & co... but now it feels like anything outside the boys and their quest has dropped off for her. However I like the increased presence of her family of psychics, I love Calla and all the scenes where Blue interacts with her, and that the family is becoming important to the boys too. It's pretty cool that both Ronan and Adam have complicated feelings about their absent fathers, and have now ended up with this houseful of firecracker women guiding/parenting them whether they like it or not.
So, about the book itself, and the plot contained therein. There's a lot that goes on, and without getting too spoilery I think I can say that shit is finally getting real. In the first book there was definitely a sense that these were children getting involved with stuff that was probably going to blow up in their faces; in the second, we saw Ronan and Adam coming into their powers, Blue and Gansey taking on more responsibility, and all four of them feeling more adult. In this one, there's definitely the sense that whatever comes next is going to be hard, but they have at least a chance of meeting it head-on, and it's pretty awesome.
Ronan and Adam are my favorite parts of this. I love them together (and god, I hope they end up together romantically, ugh) I love how they're both broken and don't need each other to pretend to be different. I love when they do magic together; I love that they're Gansey's magicians. The whole bit around Adam's dad's court date was perfect, one of the most heartfelt and lovely sections of the whole book.
The book has pacing issues, certainly, and Stiefvater writes some of her characters with a bit more Joss-like wit and snark than is maybe necessary, but that's okay. (Except Gwenllian-- God, she annoyed the shit out of me.) She also does a really great job of making almost all her characters whole people, random and weird and never one-note-- Jesse Ditley saying he only eats Spaghetti-O's comes to mind, and Malory's description of his anxiety disorder, and everything about Piper Greenmantle-- I always want to know more about everyone.
Things I hope for the last book: I hope Ronan and Adam do a lot more awesome magic, and at least acknowledge the romantic tension building between them. I hope for at least one scene of Mr. Gray and Maura kicking ass together (hopefully Neeve and Piper's asses are the ones getting kicked). I hope for a lot more Calla because she might be my favorite in the whole series. I hope when Gansey inevitably dies that Blue is the one to figure out how to bring him back. And I hope that they don't use the favor to bring Noah back to life.
It may be gauche to be wishing for the next book already when this one only became widely available today, but that's the power of a good series, and whatever its flaws, the Raven Cycle is a good read.(less)
I actually finished this the day after I started it and apparently never marked it read. But it was amazing. I want to listen to the female-narrated a...moreI actually finished this the day after I started it and apparently never marked it read. But it was amazing. I want to listen to the female-narrated audiobook. (less)
3.5 stars; rounding up because it contained more of the awesome worldbuilding stuff that I loved so much in the first book and missed so much in the s...more3.5 stars; rounding up because it contained more of the awesome worldbuilding stuff that I loved so much in the first book and missed so much in the second. There was a lot that was cool about this story, and the way she wrapped it up was unexpected-- yet oddly unsatisfying. The revelation about Mal seemed out of the blue, and Alina sacrificing her power at the end felt like a letdown. And the love story between her and Mal just seemed overly tortured and way too easy at the same time. I wanted her to actually fall for Nikolai. But, props for interesting supporting characters (Tolya and Tamar totally win) and queer characters and gorgeous descriptions of some really cool places. I'll be excited to see what Bardugo does next.(less)
It takes some doing to take the fun out of Star Wars, but man, Timothy Zahn made it happen. I was so disappointed by the way this book lived up to its...moreIt takes some doing to take the fun out of Star Wars, but man, Timothy Zahn made it happen. I was so disappointed by the way this book lived up to its considerable hype- or more accurately, how it didn't. Almost every Star Wars fan I know says this trilogy is the best contribution to the EU, yet to me it fell incredibly flat. From reusing pieces of dialogue straight from the movies, to a huge overabundance of telling rather than showing, I didn't find it to be particularly well written. And frankly I expected way more from sanctioned fanfiction- for starters, that the characters would at least resemble their canon counterparts. But while Zahn does a fine job with Luke, I found Han and Leia almost unrecognizable, and really lackluster to boot. I never bought any of their emotions as real, possibly because the only emotion either of them displayed for most of the book was worry over the situations taking them constantly by surprise. Leia was little better than a stick figure, constantly wringing her hands in fearful concern and happily ceding control over her life to the men around her. Where did "from now on you do as I tell you" go?? And okay Mara Jade wasn't so bad as the book wore on, but she was pretty one-note. The action scenes were good, but then with such a cinematic canon to draw from I'd have been surprised if they weren't (and frankly if Zahn sucks at writing people so much, one would hope he'd be good at action scenes). There was just enough meat in the book's latter half to keep my interest, but the jury's still out about whether I'm willing to risk the sequels to find out if any of it gets better. TBH I'm likely to read them just to find out where fandom's obsession with Mara comes from (other than the fact she's a sassy redhead badass) bc I can be suckered in just by the promise of a well written female character, but if Zahn' treatment of Leia is any indication I might be signing myself up for more disappointment. Only time will tell.
2.5 stars, rounding down for the letdown factor. Sorry SW fans. Maybe next time?(less)
I knew before I even began this book that it would end up on the 'best of 2014' list, and I wasn't disappointed. There are few books that can make me...moreI knew before I even began this book that it would end up on the 'best of 2014' list, and I wasn't disappointed. There are few books that can make me laugh out loud while reading, without a care for how many funny looks I'm getting from commuters or coworkers around me, but like its predecessor, Ghosts of Tupelo Landing had me chortling on the regular. Lines like "'Connoisseur', I whispered. 'French for "know-it-all."'" or "Having a temper means you find out what you're going to say at the same time everyone else does." made me love Mo LoBeau more than ever. Yet the book didn't lack for gravity either-- again, like Three Times Lucky, there was a current of real-world seriousness to the story, and the title alludes not only to the ghost Mo and Dale think they're chasing, but to the shades of past hurts that live in the collective consciousness of any small town. It's also rare I'd recommend a middle-grade book to anyone I didn't know already enjoyed middle-grade fiction, but these two books are funny and honest enough to worm their way into anyone's hearts.(less)
Man, it is so hard to write good short stories, and I'm not surprised Ann Leckie has as much talent with the form as she does with the novel. This was...moreMan, it is so hard to write good short stories, and I'm not surprised Ann Leckie has as much talent with the form as she does with the novel. This was a perfect little gem of a story, and just as punch-packing as Ancillary Justice.(less)