Discussing The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater Through My Favorite Quotes (Part 1)

“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’s been told that she would kill her true love.”

First line in The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I’ve recently reread The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater and I quickly realized that I needed to write some kind of post about it because I need to talk about those books. So what I’m going to do is share some of the best quotes from the series and just kind of give my commentary on them.
I’ve split this idea into two so this post features quotes from the first two books, The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, so obviously major SPOILER WARNING for those. Let’s start!

The Raven Boys

“Is this thing safe?”
“Safe as life,” Gansey replied.

We’re starting off with a quote that is repeated a couple of times in the first book: Replying that whatever weird thing the gang is doing next is as safe as life. Which is the same as saying not that safe at all, but also implying that it doesn’t matter if it’s safe. You should still live life to the fullest, just like the group should explore Cabeswater or whatever thing they needed to feel assured was safe. It’s a great tagline for the series, really, as it matches the overall tone of it rather well. Exploration and search for knowledge are strong themes and they are very strongly embodied by Gansey here in the first book. Stiefvater does a great job of making us understand his deep need to find Glendower and his joy in the journey toward that goal. He enjoys how it makes him feel so alive and what is life without a little risk?

“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”

I love foreshadowing so I love this quote. I think it’s funny how it implies that Gansey isn’t afraid someone would hurt Ronan by not knowing how to handle him, but Ronan would hurt them. In my interpretation, there’s no malice in Gansay’s words toward Ronan but rather a realization that Ronan is a complicated person. If you don’t understand him or know how to read him, his actions and words will be misconstrued and that will have people failing to realize what a big softy he actually is. We see this more later in the series so I’m sure most readers will interpret this quote differently when they’ve only read the first book.

“When Gansey was polite, it made him powerful. When Adam was polite, he was giving power away.”

I love this as a quote to explain difference in class! To Gansey, being polite is something that has always been a part of his world. It’s a skill he has been taught so he’s comfortable with it and it feels like a natural part of who he is. The opposite is the case for Adam. The environment he grew up in didn’t encourage politeness. It wasn’t a skill that would get him anything. He has had to develop this skill later in life in order to fit in which means it feels more like an act to him. He’s not being himself when he’s polite and in that way, he’s giving power away. The people he meets are in control of who he is in the given situation. At least, that’s my interpretation and I love that quote for its depth.

Ronan said, “I’m always straight.”
Adam replied “Oh, man, that’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told.”

I had completely forgotten that this quote was in the first book! To give the context, Ronan is actually replying to Gansey who had said something about needing everybody to be straight with him from now on, as in “tell the truth” straight. But I guess Stiefvater saw an opportunity and took it to give us a major heads-up about Ronan’s sexuality. However, the quote had me wondering whether Ronan has actually said anything or if Adam and Gansey just figured it out and it’s no big deal so they don’t talk about it. I’m leaning towards the former because Ronan isn’t exactly the guy who sits everybody down to have a talk about feelings.

“She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness.”

I hope everyone has felt this kind of happiness at some point. It’s the thing about equating it with sadness that makes this quote so profound. We also cry when we’re happy, right? The two emotions aren’t polar opposites. Subconsciously, there must be something about feeling this happy that makes us worry about losing that happiness. When we don’t exactly know why we love something that much, how do we keep it and how do we get it back if we lose it?

“In his head, his mother said, ‘People shout when they don’t have the vocabulary to whisper’.”

If you’ve ever been in an argument with someone, you know this is true. When words are failing them, people think shouting makes their words more powerful. It only makes them more intimidating and I guess that does work sometimes. But it shouldn’t.

“He strode over to the ruined church. This, Blue had discovered, was how Gansey got places – striding. Walking was for ordinary people.”

This is just hilarious 🤣 It’s the dry delivery that gets me. Also, it’s such a simple thing but it’s still so effective in building Gansey as a character. By saying this, Stiefvater has told us that he is determined and focused whenever he does anything and he’s most definitely not ordinary. I’m also kind of imagining Blue sharing this discovery of hers with him and the result is an utterly perplexed Gansey because he probably doesn’t realize this about himself.

“The fact was, by the time she [Blue] got to high school, being weird and proud of it was an asset. Suddenly cool, Blue could’ve happily had any number of friends. And she had tried. But the problem with being weird was that everyone else was ‘normal’.”

It was always a little weird that Blue didn’t seem to have any friends before joining the boys. Like, we never hear anything about her classmates. I do recognize that the books didn’t need any more characters and her family members sort of filled that role a close friend would have. And when you need a reason for your main character being friendless, I approve of this one. I also approve of how she wrote it because the idea (embracing being weird and hating on normal people) isn’t revolutionary. All authors with a female main character pretty much aim for this, but if written by anyone else, it would have come off as a cliché.

The Dream Thieves

“She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged on, Gansey clearly wished he had one.
Ronan wasn’t a fan of lamps.”

This is simply iconic! The comparison of Blue’s dress to a lampshade, the subtle judgment of Gansey for being smitten and then the deadpan delivery of Ronan’s opinions on lamps after we’ve established that we aren’t talking about lamps. Everything about this quote is perfect!

“Sometimes Ronan thought Adam was so used to the right way being painful that he doubted any path that didn’t come with agony.”

My poor sweet Adam! You don’t deserve that pain! This quote is so depressing but also says so much about Adam’s character. It shows how impactful one’s upbringing is on the person one becomes as an adult. Getting out of his abusive home doesn’t mean Adam can just shake it off and be like Gansey. It’s a part of who he is. He feels he has to fight for everything because nothing has ever been handed to him and if it was, it probably wasn’t worth much, resulting in that doubt.

“There were many versions of Gansey, but this one had been rare since the introduction of Adam’s taming presence. It was also Ronan’s favorite. It was the opposite of Gansey’s most public face, which was pure control enclosed in a paper-thin wrapper of academia. But this version of Gansey was Gansey the boy. This was the Gansey who bought the Camaro, the Gansey who asked Ronan to teach him to fight, the Gansey who contained every wild spark so that it wouldn’t show up in other versions. Was it the shield beneath the lake that had unleashed it? Orla’s orange bikini? The bashed-up remains of his rebuilt Henrietta and the fake IDs they’d returned to? Ronan didn’t really care. All that mattered was that something had struck the match, and Gansey was burning.”

I’ve talked about Gansey quite a bit in this post and I also think this reread has made me appreciate him more as a character so I had to include this quote. It describes the thing about Gansey that makes it all make sense. Because isn’t it weird that a rich boy whose mother is running for Congress and whose life is as close to perfect as anyone could wish for chooses to be friends with the likes of Ronan, Adam and Blue? It’s because he has this wild side to him as well and while it’s hidden from basically everyone else, he needs an outlet sometimes. He needs to be this raw version of Gansey on occasion and that’s why he needs his friends. From the outside, those friendships could look like charity cases but the truth is Gansey needs them just as much as they need him. He would suffocate with only more “appropriate” friends.

This reread has been such a good experience because even though all the books aren’t 5-star reads, I just love the characters so much. Getting to write this post (and its follow-up) has really allowed me to analyze them more closely and admire the development they go through. It’s extraordinary!
Now, please share your thoughts! Do you like The Raven Cycle? What’s your favorite quote? Your favorite character? What do you think about some of the interpretations I made in this post? Also, part 2 will be coming soon!

5 thoughts on “Discussing The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater Through My Favorite Quotes (Part 1)

  1. This is such a cool idea! I love how these quotes enabled you to revisit the books in depth without having to dissect every single plot point, and you also made me reflect on details I never noticed while reading The Raven Cycle! 🥰

    My personal favorite out of these is probably the happiness one – Maggie Stiefvater captured that feeling so perfectly that I even vaguely remembered having read that quote before, which I definitely can’t say for all of these 😅 Like, I can’t believe I never noticed the one about Ronan’s non-straightness! I’m sure that was intentional on Stiefvater’s part, but I also agree that Ronan probably never said anything to his friends straight-out. They probably had to put in the guess work…

    And the lampshade quote! 😂 That one was just perfection and reminded me why I love Ronan so much. He’s probably tied for my favorite character with Blue, although I’ve also always had a soft spot for Noah and was always disappointed he didn’t get as much page time as the others…

    Anyway, let’s just say I agree with your interpretations of pretty much all of these quotes, and that I’m very excited for Part Two!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, when I was done writing it, I also realized that I barely mentioned the plot and it was just me gushing about characters 😅 But then I figured that nobody was reading/loving these book because of the plot anyway 😁

      I didn’t actually remember the happiness quote so it was one of those that was a nice surprise for this reread. I was probably almost able to recite the lampshade one even before reading it again, though 😂 Ronan is also tied for my favorite character but with Adam instead. Adam might even have gained a small advantage after this reread because his background and the way it affects him really make him my kind of character. And I also felt a little bad for not talking about Noah but he’s just not that involved and I didn’t feel like I had anything to say about him that wasn’t already in the books 🤷‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The gushing about the characters was the best part about this! Who needs plot when you can have them? 🥰

        And I can totally see why you love Adam so much! I like him, too, but I always thought his perspective seemed like an afterthought to Ronan’s 😅 Although maybe I should do a reread of my own to refresh my memory because I feel like I’m very hazy on details… The same thing goes for Noah – though I do remember being mad at Stiefvater for not including him more, so I don’t think you not having much to say is on you!

        (Also, sorry for the late reply 🙈 I’ve been feeling really crappy all week – so much so that I’ve been paranoidly doing covid tests on a daily basis 😅 – but since they all came back negative, I felt like I didn’t have a good enough excuse to postpone my students’ exams and stay home from school. Which means I’ve basically been collapsing into bed whenever I got back from work and been terrible at responding to people in general… 🙃)

        Liked by 1 person

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