Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater | Review

Posted February 1, 2016 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Reviews / 10 Comments

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater | ReviewBlue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
Also by this author: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Also in this series: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)
Published by Scholastic Press on October 21st 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Friendship, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 391 •Format: HardcoverSource: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.

“You can be just friends with people, you know,” Orla said. “I think it’s crazy how you’re in love with all those raven boys.”

I think I am about as short as Blue and this makes me identify with her on a spiritual level (no pun intended). That’s the beauty of this series: Maggie makes you feel so intricately connected to the characters in small, intimate ways, and sometimes silly ways, whether it’s through a Ronan’s cynicism and snarky remarks, Gansey’s obsessive behavior and paralyzing fear of bees, or Adam’s deep and dark desire to be better, stronger, to matter. While I’ll be the first to admit that I really struggled with The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue appeased any doubts I had that I may not get along with Maggie’s writing, as I felt as though I was deeply and emotionally connected with these Raven Boys, with their strange jokes (The murder squash song, anyone?) and eerie quest. BLLB creates one of the most intimate reading experiences between characters and readers that I’ve ever encountered, coupled with some of the most unique and stunning writing I’ve ever come across in YA.

While The Dream Thieves took a stark turn away from the main focus of The Raven Boys (centering Ronan and Adam at the center of the novel and delving into the dream creations and focusing less on the search for Glendower), Blue Lily, Lily Blue really brings the first two installments together into a cohesive plot. There’s a cohesive meshing of everyone’s unique power or calling, especially between Ronan’s dream creations and how it impacts the search for Glendower. Without mentioning any spoilers, it’s so nice to really see some progress made in this novel with the search for Glendower, seeing some fruition come out of Gansey’s chronic obsession. I felt like this novel made me understand the ley lines, psychic occurrences, and mythology much more as well, partially due to the arrival of Gansey’s old English anthropologist/scholar/professor friend Malory, who serves not only as a hilarious side character but also fleshes certain topics out under the guise of explaining and reminiscing on his previous time spent with Gansey to the other members of the Raven Crew.

The main strength of this book lies in its character development, especially with the boys and Blue. There’s such an intimacy, almost a romance, between so many of the characters. They’re all so important to each other and have such deep affection for each other that I can’t help but call it anything BUT a romance even if it’s not in a typical “lovers” sense (Blue & Gansey, Adam & Ronan, Ronan & Gansey, etc.). The depth of emotion the core 5 characters have for each other is enough to make your heart burst, and I’m not one to usually get so emotionally invested in FEELS when I read (I’m sort of a hard audience that way). The secondary characters were also spot on, with the introduction of several new ones that really enhance the narrative rather than make it feel cluttered. Greenmantle (the guy who initially hired the Grayman? Remember him?) becomes a living, breathing presence, and with true irony it turns out that his wife, Piper, is really the bad ass in the relationship (their banter is hilarious). Jesse Dittley is my new favorite character, a seemingly redneck near-giant who is surprisingly observant and speaks in all caps:

“It kills Dittleys and does terrible things to my friend.”

“YOUR DEAD FRIEND.”

“That’s not his fault. Why didn’t you say you could see him?”

“I DIDN’T SAY I COULD SEE YOU, EITHER.”

“But I’m not dead.”

“BUT YOU ARE PRETTY SHORT.”

 

I literally could not. Stop. Laughing. Whenever Jesse talked it was such a treat, especially considering he is always more perceptive about things than people give him credit for.

The fact that BLLB is such a character driven novel helps make up for the fact that the plot can sometimes get crazy and muddled or just downright confusing. I’ll admit, I finished this book about 5 days ago and some of the plot elements are already fading because there is just so much going on: ley lines, missing mothers, psychic predictions, dream-thieving, Cabeswater’s power, prophecies of impending doom, dead kings and deadlier romances…I could go on and on. The depth of relationships in this book helps anchor readers when the plot is spinning out of control, and the stark normalcy of certain actions and conversations (such as Piper’s complaints about her book club or Blue and Gansey’s sweet and awkward late night phone calls) help along the idea that all of the paranormal elements exist and really help suspend readers’ disbelief. The happenings in this book are either breathtakingly strange or hilariously normal, and the juxtaposition somehow works perfectly.

Overall: I can’t properly explain to you how much I loved this book. Was it flawed? Of course, but those flaws really just added to the quirky, eerie, and inexplicable magic that perfumes off of the pages of this novel. With outrageously strong character development, progress made in the plot, and a faster pace that the first two books in the series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue solidifies this series, for me, as one of the best out there. If The Dream Thieves didn’t convince you, please please please give the third book a shot.

verdictnewfavorite

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Book Challenge 2016
  • Goodreads Challenge 2016
  • Must Read in 2016 Challenge
  • Rock My TBR 2016

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10 responses to “Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater | Review

  1. So glad to hear you loved this one as much as I did. There is just something about Maggie Stiefvater’s characters that makes me equal parts sad and happy (too many feels at once!). And she’s so good with minor characters as well. I’m dying to get my hands on the final book in this series. Great review, Cristina!

    Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense recently posted: Monthly Wrap-Up: January ’16
  2. I am so glad that you picked up BLLB after your mixed experience with TDT. I absolutely love where Stiefvater went with all the characters in this book, and they really are the strength of the series overall. (DYING for The Raven King, even though it releases during my finals week, so I will have to–somehow–avoid all the spoilers for the last book.)

    • Agreed! I had a hard time with The Dream Thieves because I missed Gansey and Blue being the focus, but I feel lile BLLB was a good balance of all of the characters. Especially Adam, Stiefvater is really unafraid to have her characters exhibit some of the uglier side of human emotions. The Raven King can’t come soon enough! (It also has my favorite cover!)

  3. I read this book a while ago and your review just reminded me of all the reasons why I absolutely LOVED it, and the series in general. It’s like you put all my thoughts into words.

    I love all the characters and how authentic they are. And the fantasy elements don’t feel far away at all. When reading about the ley lines and Glendower, I’ve never even questioned what Blue and the Raven Boys are doing to the point that sometimes I feel like this isn’t a fantasy book at all. It seems so normal somehow, searching for ley lines, and I guess that’s mainly because the characters still do so many every-day things.

    I can’t wait for The Raven King, though it hasn’t really gotten through to me yet that it will be the end of this amazing series.

    • I think it really took BLLB for me to truly CLICK with this series, but I am so glad I did! You’re right about it seeming so realistic, Stiefvater does such a great job at suspending readers’ disbelief with adding in such NORMAL elements to the narrative that the paranormal elements don’t undermine the narrative. Thank you for the lovely comment, Karin!

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