Monday, May 22, 2017

BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE // Nostalgia and Peace

Five Stars—ajklsdflk (when words fail to describe how wonderful a book is) 

As with THE RAVEN BOYS and THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater, I first listened to BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE on audiobook, and it was phenomenal. 

The Characters

Greenmantle // Greenmantle is an odd villain; he’s truly terrible, and truly dangerous, but he fascinates me more than he scares me. Danger and evil seem almost to bore him. The best thing about him, though, is that Stiefvater makes him feel like a real person. 

Piper // Piper is even more interesting than her husband. Though she conforms to some of the more stereotypical female tropes (not to say that any of those are bad)—yoga, book clubs, buying small ugly dogs (okay, small ugly dogs are bad), etc.—she is also her own person. Like Greenmantle, she doesn’t seem to be able to feel fear or love. But, as my sister says, they still make a cute couple. 

Jesse Dittley // *eyes turn to hearts* I love Jesse. I love how Stiefvater puts his dialogue in all caps because it’s so big and boomy. I love how Stiefvater shows his dialectic speech more than she does with some of the other characters. And I love how he calls Blue “ant” and wonders if she’s short because she didn’t eat her vegetables. 

Adam’s father // Adam’s father, when shown through the lens of distance, is harder to fear because he’s easier to see. That’s not to say that his actions become justifiable, only understandable in terms of who he is: a petulant person, more child than man. 

Maura // Even though this book centers around her absence, I felt like I learned more about Maura in this story than I did in the two previous. Maura is wise and gentle and something other. She is like Blue and she is like the Gray Man and she is like a cup of Earl Grey tea with cream. 

Stiefvater's Writing

When I was trying to decide whether or not to buy IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma, I remember finding that the biggest issue negative reviewers had was the writing style. They complained that the prose was dense and hard to get into (in so many words). But if you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you’ve likely seen me mention how much I love everything about IMAGINARY GIRLS. “Liz,” you say, “you’re getting distracted. We were talking about BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE.” 

We are, don’t worry. I mention IMAGINARY GIRLS because I’ve seen several reviewers, even ones who like Stiefvater’s books, mention that it was hard to get into THE RAVEN BOYS because of the writing style. Stiefvater’s style, like Suma’s, is richer and asks to be read more slowly. It’s meant to be savored. The sentences are more out of the box; when I get stuck in a sentence structure rut, reading their work helps me to view writing in a new light. 

Obviously, my stylistic preferences won't always be yours. But if you happen to like Nova Ren Suma’s style, Stiefvater’s will likely appeal to you as well. 

The Atmosphere

I know I touched on atmosphere in my review of THE RAVEN BOYS, but I want to mention it again. Very rarely, when I’m reading, do I get truly absorbed. I can be head-over-heels for a story and still forget to pick it back up once I’ve put it down. But the Raven Cycle blocks out anxiety-driven distractions and overactive thoughts. Stiefvater’s writing steals me from my time and lands me in some strange in-between place where it’s always autumn, and always spring, where there’s always a cool breeze and rain and the sound of moving leaves and bird song in the morning. It slows my blood. 

While I mentioned that I love living in Virginia because it makes me think of this series, I feel it’s also important to mention that I may have been living in Virginia and enjoying it for a few months before I picked up the Raven Cycle, but it was the Raven Cycle that made me never want to leave. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? What are some books that make you feel peaceful? Do you like books that make you feel strangely nostalgic?


  1. I have only read the first of these books (disappointing, I know) but I've heard lots and lots of good things about the book. And it's cool that reading this book connected you to Virginia. It's always cool when books are able to ground you in the real world. :)

  2. I'm glad to hear that you love Virginia, Liz. What's your take on adorable little dogs? Perhaps you need to come visit, to meet a couple of them. Nikki and Oliver would love to meet you, and I'd enjoy seeing you too. ❤️ Love, Aunt Kathy