Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in the compelling supernatural series by Maggie Stiefvater, known collectively as the Raven Cycle. You can find my complete reviews of the two previous books in this series here and here. For more Henrietta shenanigans, read on!

bluelilylilyblueAbout the book: Everyone knows the Raven King is sleeping underground. Maura believes Blue’s father is, as well. With the stakes heightened as Maura chases after her lost love and doesn’t return, Blue and the raven boys delve into caves that hide eerie secrets of their own. Ronan’s dreaming is put to the test, Adam becomes more powerful as he learns to understand and link with Cabeswater, Gansey tries to downplay his growing anxiety about the search and his feelings for Blue, Noah loses control of his supernatural abilities, and Blue will do anything it takes to rescue her mother. On top of the increased pace of the hunt for Glendower, there’s a new villain in town–the Gray Man’s influential and dangerous employer, Greenmantle, with his unpredictable wife. School resumes, but even the familiar routines of homework and classes fail to offset the unusual events surrounding the ley line and its travelers as things begin to spiral out of control.

“Henrietta was no longer someplace ordinary. He was no longer someone ordinary.”

This volume of the Raven Cycle is both a prelude to the end, and an inspection of the person each character has already become. Nothing is as easy and no one is as carefree as they were when readers met them in The Raven Boys. The new depth, however, to each personality, only enriches the narration and increases the reader’s investment in the hunt for Glendower. A darker element has been added to the gang’s magical quest, and each character has his or her own personal motivations that they believe are worth the risks of the dangerous search for the slumbering king.

“Was that what life did to them all? Chiseled them into harder, truer versions of themselves?”

How it compares: I was a little unsatisfied with the way Blue was depicted in the second book of this series, and a little tired of seeing Ronan so much. In this third book, the balance has been restored as the reader is given an appropriate amount of time with each character; I thought that was an improvement. However, one of the main points of tension in the third book is Maura’s disappearance, which felt like the weakest plot thread so far. I had absolutely no doubt that Maura would be found, which left all of the worrying about her seeming a little unnecessary. Obviously a child should be worried about a missing parent, but the reader is never quite as worried as Blue, which makes for an awkward, unbalanced sort of sympathy. Maura’s hunt for Artemus helps pull him into the story’s spotlight, but otherwise the hunt for Maura is really no different than the hunt for Glendower, and I don’t think there would have been a significant difference in the plot of this novel if Maura hadn’t gone missing.

“Maybe it was good that the world forgot every lesson, every good and bad memory, every triumph and failure, all of it dying with each generation. Perhaps this cultural amnesia spared them all. Perhaps if they remembered everything, hope would die instead.”

Also, although things are (predictably) progressing between Gansey and Blue, and I do like both characters, it was hard to see what they liked about each other. One of the benefits of a slow-burn romance is seeing tiny gestures and conversations that are heaped with meaning, rather than seeing every facet of every thought about the situation spelled out. But one of the cons would be that it’s easy to miss the meaning behind the tiny gestures and conversations. I felt a bit like Blue and Gansey were falling in love simply because it was inevitable. The reader knows it’s going to happen from the beginning, but I wish the narration spent a bit longer on the how and why. Still, I’m loving how patient and understated their relationship is, and I’ll be interested to see if my theories about what will happen between them will prove true in the final book.

My reaction: 5 out of 5 stars. Although there were a couple things I would’ve liked to change about this book, I was still caught up in the newest plot developments and still in love with all of the great Stiefvater writing elements that I was attracted to in the first books. Each detail of each character is described in such a way that every scene is infinitely interesting, and every chapter is exciting. The narration is consistently quirky and compelling. I think it’s impossible to be bored while reading this series, and this volume was no exception.

Further Recommendations:

  1. If you like YA that’s slightly historical and supernatural, try Meg Cabot’s Avalon High. One of my all-time favorite YA books, Avalon High is a modern reincarnation story of the famous history of King Arthur and his friends. The characters must identify their medieval counterparts and break the cycle that tends to lead to Arthur’s untimely death.

Coming Up Next: I’m just starting Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, a short novel among Christie’s most-known books. As usual for Christie’s works, it features a suspenseful murder mystery. I believe it follows ten characters who are invited to an island and begin to die one by one. I can’t wait to find out why.


The Literary Elephant


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