I love, love, love Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle series and its concluding book, The Raven King is wonderful capstone for the the whole series. In fact, I think so highly of the book, I will consider it to be included on our Mock Printz list this Fall.
But I get ahead of myself.
The Raven Cycle series is considered Urban Fantasy, which means it is set in contemporary times but has supernatural elements. In the first book, The Raven Boys (published in 2012), readers first meet Blue Sargent who is the only person in her family who is not clairvoyant. Her whole life she has been told her kiss will kill her true love. That is a mighty strong incentive to not do any kissing at all. Blue meets the Raven Boys: Richard Gansey, Ronan Lynch, Adam Parrish when she is waitressing at a restaurant they frequent. The four, plus another friend named Noah, start to hang around together, all seeking the same mission: to find the sleeping Welsh King, Glendower. Legend has it that if Glendower is awoken from his long sleep he will grant a wish to the person who woke him.
In the subsequent books, The Dream Thieves (2013), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (2014) and The Raven King (2016) readers get to know and love the above named people, and host of other characters, as they look for Glendower, explore Cabeswater, a magical forest, and discover their own magical powers. In The Raven King, the many disparate pieces are drawn together in a book which feels like one big, gigantic climax to a satisfying conclusion. Honestly, I loved everything about the books and the whole series.
Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favorite YA authors. Her writing is so descriptive and lyrical. Everyone one of her books has drawn me in and kept me enthralled throughout the whole series. When one book ends I anxiously await the next. When the series ends, I mourn for a few days. I don't want to say goodbye to the friends I have met within her stories. This is the way I felt as I closed the book The Raven King for the last time. It was as if my best friend for the past five years were moving away. Sigh.
That said, I do want to quibble a bit with publishers of books in a series like The Raven Cycle whose target audience is older teens. Teenagers grow up. They leave school. Their taste in literature evolves. For this reason a YA series should never be longer than four books (and that is pushing it) and should always be published, all four books, within the four year time frame they are in high school. The Raven Cycle barely made those parameters, since The Raven King was published a year and a half after the third book Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Out of a high school of 1900 students I only had three students who were excited about the fourth book coming out because all the others had lost interest in the intervening months and years waiting for it. That makes me really sad since it is such a wonderful series.
Now to be fair, I can think of a whole lot of exceptions to the rules I just outlined. The Harry Potter series, of course, comes to mind with its seven book series and ten year publishing cycle. Most readers started that series as preteens and had to finish up with it when they were adults. It is a rare book series that will hold readers attention for such a long time span. Another series which broke my suggested rule, The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon), has four books which were published between 2003 to 2011. Everyone grumbled about how long it took for the conclusion of that series. Like Harry Potter, however, The Inheritance Cycle has developed a small, almost cult-like following of students who read the books over and over. They are timeless.
My hope, and it is a BIG hope, is that I can entice my teen readers to pick up the whole Raven Cycle series and read it from the first to the last book in rapid succession this coming school year. It is such a marvelous series, so intricate and complicated, thoughtful and imaginative, playful and serious, realistic and supernatural. I love everything about it...now to find the route for my readers to find their way in to this magical world, too.
Rating of The Raven King: 5 out of 5.
Source: Audiobook checked out from the public library. Will Patton is the narrator and I ADORE listening to him. He could read a recipe book out loud and I would listen.
Is The Raven King Printz worthy? YES. Will it be selected? I doubt it only because books-in-a-series are rarely selected and I don't think the fourth book in a series has ever been selected for a Printz Award. It's a shame. Read the book and the whole series anyway. It is worth every moment it take to finish it.
2017 Printz Award Contenders
23 / 35 books. 66% done!