My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“I am a slow-growing creature!” Artemus wailed. “I cannot adapt so quickly!” (My best line in The Raven King)
“I love this tree,” Blue said finally, in English . “You don’t have any claim to it. If anyone could live inside it, it should be me. I’ve loved it way longer than you could have.” (My second best line in The Raven King)
The Raven King brings to a close the The Raven Cycle series a friend suggested I read close to half a year ago. And read and I have, but not without my reservations. I could have stopped any time at the first book; frankly I am not gushing about the plot or the characters. I wasn’t pulled into this series as normally I would.
The plot tangent from book one is a long-winding arc which I lost sight of and thereby forgot about altogether. In book 4, where there’s supposed to be some awesome reveal, the bait petters out and dies. In the interim, we have been chasing small fires, and by some trick of the eye, we thought them bonfires when in truth they are just that – small fires.
Some characters in the series didn’t quite fit. They were awkward and unnecessary additions that I spent long hours trying to figure out only for them to disappoint. It made me wonder why the author even bothered to include them in the series. I will give you 4 names:
- Professor Malory and his dog (this dude gave me the creeps)
- Gwenllian (she never really stands out, start to finish)
- Henry Cheng (I didn’t get his deal and he was just too well placed for it to be normal)
- Artemus (Butternut, Blue’s father’s entire role consisted of cowering in the cupboard or in a tree. How tragic)
On the point of Cheng, his representation as the outsider and minority left a lot to be desired. Henry Cheng is nauseatingly caricatured to fit the skin of what Caucasians picture Asians to be. It was painful to read. Here’s a scene between Blue and Henry:
I don’t understand why you keep saying such awful things about Koreans. About yourself. And Henry saying, I will do it before anyone else can. It is the only way to not be angry all the time.
Now this is rich. I won’t comment any further. I will just leave it here.
Gwenllian was this 600+ year old princess from Wales. She’s partly Tir e e’lintes (Tree lights) like Blue who’s father Butternut(Artemus) is the real deal. What I felt, the author had a good story and didn’t exploit it as well as she could have. I would have loved to see more of what Artemus could do and by extension Blue. Amplification of psychic abilities seemed to be just one aspect of her abilities. And Gwenllian too. She was a perfect wild character rendered jobless by the author’s lack of imagination for her role. You can’t keep such a woman in the attic of Fox Way and consider it a good plot choice. I always looked out for her scenes which were so few. Same goes for Artemus. Such a waste of good characters.
Professor Mallory was just creepy. He appeared to have a deeper understanding of whatever was going on around him at first. And then he just ups and leaves, end of story, he’s done. The way he left Henrietta made me smell a plot tangent that would later unravel, only I was disappointed. Very anticlimatic. He didn’t even appear in The Raven King, which felt unnatural, considering he had a vested interest in Glendower as much as Gansey.
The rest of the central characters in previous books lose their place and we only see them in the periphery of the plot i.e Maura, Calla, Orla, Mr. Gray. Even the hoof legged Orphan Girl should have played a more prominent role. She was magical after all.
The gay parts were the worst. When did I doze off and miss the shift in gears? And Hell-to-the-No! Those scenes felt so wrong swimming around in my head. I read 3 entire books and didn’t see this coming. It feels so wrong, and not because of the gay stuff per se. That was one gigantic Quantum Leap into Lalaland. One minute it’s Blue and then it’s someone entirely different. I don’t know if it works that way. The few set-up scenes didn’t give it credence so I refuse! No! I understand tying the ribbon to a series and pairing up everybody and the happily ever after, but Hell no!. You just messed up a character I liked for his rawness and made the other go against his rigid nature only to further a rainbow ideal.
The hunt for Glendower was one of the reasons I kept myself invested in the Raven Cycle series. My curiosity had to be quenched, so I faithfully soldiered on. The climax of this hunt is as disappointing and confusing as Gansey’s mysterious power to command dead and living things. The pieces don’t fit right and I am left unfulfilled. Yeah, that is how I feel about this series as a whole. Unfulfilled. What’s worse is that it’s a great plot, not done justice.