Book: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Age Range: 12 and up
Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle Quartet. Although I am a huge fan of Stiefvater's novels, I had a bit of a mixed reaction to this book. I adore Stiefvater's writing - her ability to come up with just the right turn of phrase. I flagged many passages of Blue Lily, Lily Blue.
And yet... It took me three weeks to read this book, which is a very long time for me. Part of this was because I didn't take it with me when I went away for KidLitCon. But most of this was because I would fall asleep every night after reading just a few pages. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is a lovely character study, but the plotting is a bit slow-paced. Usually when this happens - when I am falling asleep repeatedly over a book, and thus not getting any reading done - I will abandon the book. I never considered abandoning Blue Lily, Lily Blue, because I did enjoy the characters and the writing quality, but I was, at least in part, relieved when I finally finished it.
Anyway, Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the latest installment of Stiefvater's Raven Cycle, after The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves. (Spoilers here for books 1 and 2.) School is about to begin for Blue Sargent as well as for her friends from the nearby Aglionby private school. Blue's mother is missing, her mother's hit man boyfriend Mr. Gray is under threat from his former employer, and the chemistry between Blue and Richard Gansey III (aka Gansey) is building. Their friends Adam, Ronan and (ghost) Noah are fighting their own demons, literal and metaphorical.
The teens, with some assistance from Blue's relatives, Mr. Gray, and a Welsh professor with anxiety issues, seek to find Blue's mother, now tied to their quest to find the Welsh King, Glendower (whom they believe has been sleeping somewhere nearby for 600 years). Adam is channeling Cabeswater (a magical forest), and Ronan is bringing things from Cabeswater to life via his dreams, and struggling to better understand his gift. Blue, Gansey, Adam, and Ronan are closer than they've ever been, despite some romantic and interpersonal conflicts.
There is a lot going on in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. And yet, Stiefvater takes her time, delving in detail into actions and motivations. She has constructed a odd world, the mystical overlapping and intertwining with the real, peopled with characters who are each extraordinary. I flagged many passages - here are a couple of favorites:
"The students kept coming in. Adam kept watching. He was good at this part, the observing of others. It was himself that he couldn't seem to study or understand. How he despised them, how he wanted to be them. How pointless to summer in Maine, how much he wanted to do it. How affected he found their speech, how he coveted their lazy monotones. He couldn't tell how all of these things could be equally true." (Page 80)
"She tossed the knife into the sink, where it would remain until it died. Piper was not much for housework. She had a very narrow skill set. She drifted toward the bedroom, on her way to have a bath or take a nap or start a war." (Page 87)
"Then she smiled as if the woman had already helped her. If there was one thing Blue had learned while being a waitress and dog walker and Maura Sargent's daughter, it was that people generally became the kind of person you expected them to be." (Page 107)
Despite the pacing being, for me, a bit slow, I do think that fans of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle will enjoy Blue Lily, Lily Blue. There are some intriguing revelations as Blue and her raven boys continue their quest to find Glendower. Every character (including those not quite human for one reason or another) stands out, crisply drawn against a dream-filled world. If you haven't read any of the books in the series yet, my advice would be to wait until all four books are available, and immerse yourself in the world of Aglionby and Glendower. But if, like me, you can't resist pulling Blue Lily, Lily Blue onto your lap the moment it arrives, well, enjoy!
Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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