The Many Probems of Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Raven Cycle,” Part 3


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This one is just miscellaneous complaints

The A Couple

Ronan and Adam as the B couple works, but Gansey and Blue as the A couple is terrible. From the very beginning he is her “true love,” but neither of them is anything resembling a good match for the other. They have completely different personalities, different ways of viewing the world, different attitudes, different desires. They are not in love with one another. Gansey is in love with the world of 300 Fox Way, and Blue is in love with the idea of an expanded world that Gansey represents. If not for the “true love” moniker, this would be an acceptably realistic depiction, but without Gansey dying to elevate the whole thing, it’s hollow and flat.


Women are not the point of this story. It’s a story about men. Women are the good bits–the characters of Blue, Persephone, and Calla are among the best in the book–but really it’s a story about boys becoming men. Blue has her moment to shine in the third book, but she is only an instrument herself, not an actor as the boys are.

Beginning Vs. End

The beginning of a story is often the best part. I strongly suspect that the real reason for this is that writer’s spend tons of time writing and re-writing the beginning, and less time playing with the ending.

The first book was awesome. Sure, there were problems–even then, the characters sometimes felt flat–but there was a feeling that something big, something fated, was starting. But whatever vague, glorious destiny seemed to be beginning, it ended in anticlimax.

The quest for Glendower should have ended in the third book. It is absent from almost all of the fourth book, and if placed in the third book, the fourth book could have dealt with the ramifications of finding nothing. Instead the quest was artificially extended and felt like a waste of time.

Setups are easy. 6:21 appearing on clocks, again and again, is frightening. But when that time turns out to be the moment a forgettable villain is killed by wasps, there is no payoff. Payoffs are hard, and while each individual book has a good payoff (particularly the first), the final book in no way feels satisfying enough to justify being the “close of a cycle

History Falls Flat

It feels, in that first book, as if something historic is taking place. As if something big and important happened long ago, and is still happening. As if events are unfolding that will swallow the fragile lives of the characters.

But the history of Glendower and Wales proves completely irrelevant. Cabeswater is not ancient, it’s new. The ley line is too vague and battery-like to feel particularly compelling as a symbol of eternity. The characters most connected to history (Gwynllian and Professor Malory) have no relevance to the plot. There is nothing particularly significant or event-triggering about the identity of Blue’s father.

In the end, the most American thing about it all is that history is pointless, is in fact a creation of the present (as when Noah saves Gansey in the past). The events are taking place in a vacuum, and feel empty for the loss of that historical weight.


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