Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…
Four and a half stars
Thanks to Scholastics and NetGalley for this eARC! This title will be released September 17th, 2013.
Warning: this review will contain spoilers for The Raven Boys. See my review of the first book HERE.
Given my last review, it will come as no surprise to anybody that I love this book. If the writing was only good instead of awesome and the plot was only so-so, I would adore it for the characters alone. But the writing is amazing—maybe the best yet. I had to resist the urge to quote random sentences at literally everybody.
I had only one problem, which I’m going to hit on first because then we can get to the awesome stuff and not worry about it again: it is sometimes difficult to tell where the plot is. The last book had a very focused goal, and the characters were constantly driving for it; in this one, I feel like the antagonists had the most agency. The main characters were more reactive, and the plot arc sometimes got fuzzy. I’m not sure how this can be true in a book with so much suspense, but apparently it can. That’s why this is only 4.5 stars, despite my enthusiasm.
The characters only become more real and more delightful, and their relationships only become more complex and interesting. We learn more about many things, and new, bizarre elements are introduced. Ronan is the main character right now, and it’s interesting to get his narration. Although at first being inside his head was kind of like being in the room with an unexploded bomb, he becomes more likeable as a person. In the first book he was difficult to sympathize with, but I felt like I cared for him a lot more by the end.
There’s a new character on the scene, and if I thought Ronan was an unexploded bomb…WELL. Kavinsky quickly proved that Ronan was the least of my worries. He is larger-than-life, he is angry, and he is always, always looking for trouble. (Memorable line: “Get in the car before I have to get high again.”) He provides an interesting contrast to Ronan, who despite his teen-delinquent image would never go near a lot of the things that happen with Kavinsky.
Adam is still breaking my heart, in ways that will surprise no one who read the Raven Boys. I actually love his decline, because it’s so real. People rarely become suddenly terrible in real life. It’s always a slow accumulation of circumstances and personality traits that slowly build into something…not good. Also, can we just talk about Blue and relationships for a second? This is a tiny bit spoilery, I guess, but: Adam is her first relationship. She cares about him. This isn’t easy for her. But she never compromises the things that are important to her. When he loses his temper with her—for really unjustified reasons—she doesn’t try to appease him. She stands up to him. This is so fantastic, because she refuses to apologize for something that isn’t bad, and she knows she deserves better than he’s giving her. I wish more girls (including girls in YA, who seem to let bad boys walk over them with disturbing frequency) had the strength to realize that.
This book thinks a lot about family, and the influence a family can have on someone, willing or not. Almost everything that happens can be connected somehow to family—the main driving force of the plot, which is the Gray Man’s search for Ronan, is happening because A) Ronan’s father was Niall Lynch and B) the Gray man is running from a family member. Adam’s problems stem from family; Gansey’s need to make an impact is largely influenced by his family. I think that’s something else that doesn’t get addressed enough in YA, where parents are frequently neglectful or absent or just plain underdeveloped. It’s lovely to see family acknowledged this way, in its best and worst incarnations. I’m curious to see where these things go, especially given the cliffhanger (this time it really is a cliffhanger—CURSE YOU ALL OVER AGAIN, STIEFVATER) at the end of the story.
Miscellaneous cool things that happen in this book (which are also reasons why you should read it):
- We learn more about Persephone! Sort of!
- We learn more about the Lynch family and it is seriously messed up!
- Gansey’s family is surprisingly supportive and amazing in terrible situations. I found this genuinely delightful—I feel like I’ve really seen their best side now.
- Scenes where reality is questionable.
- A hit man who loves Anglo-Saxon poetry.
- More Latin, spoken by things other than trees.
- Drag racing.
- Molotov cocktails.