I fell so hard in love with The Raven Cycle books that I started following Maggie Stiefvater on Instagram and Tumblr. Just so you know, her life is way cooler than yours (and mine). I offer as evidence her explanation of a race between her and John Green, and their subsequent car fires. I want to have car fires. Or, rather, I’d like to have car fire stories I can tell after I’m home and safe. Bonus points if I don’t actually have to have the car fire to begin with.
Yes, I know. This is why I’m never going to be that cool.
But her awesomeness and my religion-like devotion to Blue and the boys meant that I needed to see if I had an awesome backlist to read.
The verdict? While I’ll read the stuff she writes going forward (and maybe the Scorpio book?), I’m not terribly impressed with her older work. I read the first two books of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series (Shiver and Linger), and I’m not sure if I’m going to read the last one.
The series has all the things it should to be amazing: beautiful writing, interesting characters. It’s all danger, ice, snow, and wolves with some books and music and high school antics thrown in for good measure. It’s like if all your fantasies of what Twilight should have been come true.
Except that for some reason the yummy ingredients make a flat cake.
You can see glimmers of the sassiness and truth that made Raven Boys such a gem, but the books never quite get there. The best character in the whole series is Rachel, who gets very little screen time. Grace, the main character, is too bland to inspire devotion and not bland enough that you can insert yourself on her without thinking about it too much. The books are beautiful, but they lack profluence* in places as Stiefvater lingers on the relationship between Grace and Sam or on description. Plot twists are predictable.
I can forgive all those things, though. I have before for other authors. I think the reason I can’t here is that there’s nothing new to grasp at, to make the other sins worth it. It mostly feels like a series I’ve read before. I like that series, I like that this is an ideal version of it, but in the end it has nothing to offer that I don’t already know.
That being said, I was interested enough to read the novels through pretty quickly. The emotion she evokes in the books is genuine, and I found myself caring, if not about the characters, then about the outcome to their stories. I will also say that the books won several awards, so I might be full of crap.
And, of course, as I’m looking at the book art to download the covers on the top of this blog I’m also seeing all the fan art and getting warm fuzzies about the series and the characters.
It’s a solid choice as a read, there are just other things out there with more to them. I would recommend the Wolves of Mercy Falls books to people who haven’t read Twilight, and would heartily recommend the series instead of Twilight. But if you’ve been down that road already, just go pick up Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest instead. You’ll get more bang for your buck. And if you haven’t read The Raven Cycle yet go do that IMMEDIATELY.
*Profluence: A term coined by John Gardener in his book “The Art of Fiction.” The sense that a plot is flowing, moving the reader continually and evenly toward a goal that is well planned; that we are getting somewhere. It’s the way the cause-and-effect connective tissue that makes up a novel interacts with the overall plot and story arc.