I just finished reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue last night and I’m so pumped (You can check out The Raven Boys re-read and The Dream Thieves re-read here). This’ll mark the end of the Raven Cycle re-read before I dive into the last book in the series, The Raven King, that’s out today (some bookstores have begun selling it as early as a week or so ago). Overall, the re-read was fun and I couldn’t have done it without my pal, Chandra, who texted me back and forth as we exchanged our thoughts, feelings, and theories. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time so I’m glad that I did!
The Raven Boys (TRB) was one of the best set up books that didn’t feel like a set up book while The Dream Thieves (TDT) gave us an entrance into the mind of Ronan but lost a lot of its focus. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (BLLB) is a return to that tight storytelling but now we know who these characters are and we have an entire book where we witness their growth just before shit hits the fan. It’s a feelings book. We watch Blue, Ronan, Adam and Gansey figure out how they feel about themselves and each other which’ll lead to what they’re willing to risk for those feelings. The feelings regarding themselves and the people they care about.
Those are my general thoughts on Blue Lily, Lily Blue and the series as a whole. Below are my observations of the third book which’ll contain some SPOILERS so please be cautious.
- Adam/Ronan: I call this book “the courtship of Ronan and Adam” because you start to see Ronan trying to connect with Adam in a way that is very different from Gansey or Blue in his Ronan way. He likes Adam and we’re starting to see Adam be receptive of that. It’s happening at a time in their lives where both boys are finally learning to deal with their respective baggage and that being with someone else becomes healthy. The text is telling me that Adam is open to Ronan but there hasn’t be anything overt about it. There’s a point in the book where Adam acknowledges the similarities between Blue and Ronan that makes me wonder if he has a type (I think this is what the book is telling us).
It was amazing that she and Ronan didn’t get along better, because they were different brands of the same impossible stuff. – pg 301
There’s a great moment just before Adam, Calla and Blue find Persephone in the attic where Adam – for the first time – trusts other people in a major way. He releases control of himself to someone else and it’s a huge character growth moment. I was also worried Adam wouldn’t learn to accept help when he needed it but that court room scene when he allows Ronan and Gansey to help him made my heart swell. Adam is like the child you’re always worrying about so it’s great to see him growing.
- Blue: She’s really coming into her own in this book and I love watching it happen especially with Gwenllian who explains to Blue who she is and giving her ability a name. Naming things sometimes can be very important to us in a grounding sense. You’re free floating in the “what is this? what am I?” so answers (good and bad) can be liberating. It means taking control in whatever sense that means and we see that with Blue.
- Gansey: Oh Gansey. We’re learning more and more about him. He’s improved a lot since the first book but we see how much the hornets that killed him have affected him. The mask that Blue refers to throughout the series is there to protect him because behind it, you have a deeply anxious and broken person. That entire exchange between Malory and Blue was the most revealing thing I’ve read about Gansey but also about anxiety. Reading that younger Gansey had really bad nightmares puts a lot in perspective and that money and growing up loved doesn’t protect you from the really upsetting shit of life. I’m not saying Gansey isn’t privileged and that it positions him in a better place than some of the other characters but he’s a flawed person which is something Stiefvater has done a fantastic job at balancing with acknowledgement of privilege.
- Malory: Like I said, the exchange between Blue and Malory was very insightful. It included an look at Gansey that we’ve never had before but also a look at Malory whose anxiety is essentially dealing with people’s auras and how overwhelming it is when there are auras overlapping. His dog is there as a way to manage this (the anxiety that the multiple auras create) which is cool because anxiety is shown as normal and something that can be dealt with.
- Race & Henry Cheng: Yes, I’m going to talk about race in the Raven Cycle again. I actually wanted to talk about how Henry Cheng is a great example of including a person of colour in the series where 1) we’re not guessing if they are (Cheng is a Chinese last name and he’s originally from Vancouver so he’s Canadian) 2) it’s not his defining character trait. You knew straight away that he wasn’t white and it was handled much better than the Calla thing.
Right now, Henry is an interesting character because he feels like he’ll be significant later on but in BLLB, he takes up too much narrative space in the story for someone who serves no real function in regards to the plot or even character development and who was only now being mentioned in the third book of the series. A friend suggested that Henry is acting as a mirror of Gansey to show us how far Gansey has come since TRB which I agree with but if that’s all he functions as in BLLB, then he shouldn’t be taking as much space as he seems to be taking for a new character.
- Death: This book focused on the idea of death a little more than the other books. Death comes to characters that haven’t dealt with it before. There is a fear of death with Maura and Gansey but you also have dealing with past deaths via Gansey. Noah says he doesn’t know how to be alive again when Gansey tells him he wants to use Glendower’s favour to bring him back. Death is natural, scary, horrible, peaceful, ceremonious, unassuming, and it sucks.
Things I failed to realize the first time or forgot since I last read it:
- Greenmantle/Piper are the best evil couple ever and the best antagonists in the entire series. I want to see them return.
- Persephone died and I actually forgot this happened because it was unceremonious like the book said. I definitely shed a tear this time but mostly because of Blue, Adam and Calla’s reaction to it. Personal Note: I lost my grandfather in February 2015 and like Blue, it was the first time the idea of death had become a real thing because it came for someone I knew.
- Gansey is Glendower. It’s been alluded to for three books now in the most obvious way that I’ll be upset if he isn’t. Like someone I know said: it would be a series long troll if this didn’t end up being a thing (or at least something as satisfying). It’s just too in your face to be an accident.
- Remember when I said that Persephone is the way she is probably because she struck a similar bargain with a Cabeswater-like thing? Nope. She didn’t. She’s just really good at what she does.
- Calla calling Blue out on her entitlement was really good and would have really made an impact if Calla was written more clearly as a person of colour.
- Stiefvater handles the Blue/Gansey romance SO. FUCKING. WELL. I have so many feelings.
The End: WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE RAVEN KING???? No idea so I guess I should read it now. I’m not sure if I’ll write a formal review at Women Write About Comics/elsewhere or on here but I’ll definitely link back to it if I decide to do it formally.