01 August 2016

The Raven King

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

... time, like a story, was not a line; it was an ocean.

So much build up, so much promise, and then... such a letdown.  The Raven King isn't bad by any standards, but I had such high expectations for the final novel in the series, and it just didn't feel like Stiefvater delivered.

For three novels, we've been following Gansey and crew on the quest for his king.  And while we finally get a resolution to this primary plot line, it feels so underwhelming after all the buildup.  It's almost a metaphor for the novel as a whole.

The Raven King, while still an interesting read, seems to stutter and almost stall out like Gansey's car.  The problems we set forth to resolve in this novel don't feel as epic as we were led to believe from the beginning, and the final resolution feel sloppy, rushed, and forced.  The book jacket teases this, "Now the endgame has begun.  Dreams and nightmares are converging.  Love and loss are inseparable.  And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path."  Sounds exciting, right?  Sounds like an epic read you would want to stay up all night cramming the story in on one sitting.  Instead, the novel felt dragging down with scenes such as trying to get Artemis out of a tree (is he in the tree? And does it really matter?), new relationships that seem to come out of nowhere, and introductions of new characters that we've never heard of but, apparently, depending on where you started, the story could be all about them!

The Raven King feels like a case of the publishers forcing an author to finish before she's ready, or of a series becoming bigger than an author expected and the author not having a clear ending in mind when the series started (ahem, Harry Potter, ahem).  While I didn't walk away from The Raven King feeling dissatisfied, for there was still that unique prose that made it so readable, and for the most part it still forces on the characters we've grown to love, I also didn't walk away in love with it either.  It had potential to be one of the most unique, amazing, wholly original series I've read in quite some time, but I think the ending knocked it away from that potential.

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