Sell the raven cycle to me. Why should i read it? What's so good about it?
man that’s a tall order lemme do my best here
1. The characters are very difficult jigsaw puzzle people. They’re wedged in the middle of adulthood and childhood, and magical realism is sprinkled over top of that awkwardness so that we feel very situated in that exact space and time of lost & messing up & family not being enough anymore/friendship being all you can see. And it’s not just the main characters, it’s a spectrum of cameos from people so vivid that you could hitch a ride to a whole other series on their backs. It’s this mass of interconnected lovers and churchgoers and rich boys and school-haters and hard-asses and scared kids and witches and characters that don’t quite know whether to be alive or dead.
Every person is lovingly invented to be difficult to parse upon first glance. they’re magic-eye people. You know when you’re at the optometrist and they put down slides on their big ol’ eye contraption and ask you to tell them when things get clear? it’s kind of like that. You’ve gotta keep accumulating lenses and when it’s finally clear you realize you don’t know where or how the difference set in. And better yet, the characters feel that way too – you’ve got unreliable points of view from everyone from villains to leads to sentient forests, figuring each other out, growing and misunderstanding and loving from afar. Everything has a voice, even birds and trees. This book is made of too many voices in too many languages and all you can do is sit down and be very still and listen (jot that down)
2. The plot/magic in this book are compelling as all hell, and they wind and trip and fall, but it’s worth climbing in and letting the car speed so your head rattles or the magical forest turn you around until you get lost. It’s just the right balance of relatable teenaged disasters and wholly un-relatable living nightmares and hitmen and possession via nature and ghosts and old old old magicians. Somehow pizza with the gang transmutes quietly into burying the carcass of a monster, tennis during the day becomes deadly streaking car racing until someone wins or dies. The books never let up, they go and go and talk about how much they’re going and throw too much at you.
It’s frustrating actually, the way you’re breathless for four entire novels. There are so many loose ends that you start writing ways to tie them together in your head before you’ve even finished. Impossible things represent gritty reality at every turn, you have manifestations of real depression, escapism from real abuse, resentment of real neglectful parents. You have a mosaic of things that hurt so much that they’ve become magic so that we can stand to look at them. trc wants you to look at a kissing curse and a dead king and quietly put them aside until you need them again. If you only read the back of the book, you’re brushing fingers against a scapegoat for a host of things that are much realer.
3. The writing knows what it’s doing. It needles its way into pretentious territory, but I can’t pretend that trc didn’t burrow into my writing style and rearrange things. The writing feels like.. i don’t know man like you’re holding a beating heart in your hand and watching it sputter and try to keep going, and it’s fucking amazing to witness even though you know it can’t last forever. You can see the mechanism of it and gore of it, but you keep watching and waiting. There are so many plain little to the point sentences that fit into the grand scheme of things so perfectly that you just. sob. and there are so many intricate metaphors and frank magical descriptions and charming, human ways of saying something that isn’t charming or human.
It’s a hell of a series. It knows when to open the door, it trusts that you’ll come through it. It makes you hurt so bad for a friendship that hurtles down like an asteroid and ruins everything but you. It makes you feel a little better about whatever ancient welsh king you’re looking for, whatever night horror is ripping up your head space. It makes you dog-ear every other page because the dialogue is so unnecessarily clever and the descriptions sit right in your throat where you almost choke on them.
It’s not perfect. But it singlehandedly made me start reading again (heart in mouth 4 am reading, buying the ebook the second it comes out reading, crying at lines that shouldn’t be cried at reading), what put things in motion for me to make a funny little book blog called ravenvsfox
I can’t promise that you’ll like it, but I think the mess is beautiful & youthful and there are miles of slack to make it whatever you’d like. I hope you pick The Raven Boys up and see where they drive you in their stupid orange car.