4 out of 5 stars. I am reviewing the last two books of The Raven Cycle together because the third book seemed less finished than the first two. It felt like the first half of the fourth book. Also, isn’t four an awkward number for a series?
The last two books are as consistently well-written as the first two. As I’ve said in my previous two reviews, I like Maggie Stiefvater’s style and imagination. In the last two books, she ups the magic and the stakes, which is expected in a long series.
I am happy that she included an Asian-American character, Henry Cheng, but I’m disappointed in how he was handled. There are some pretty offensive Asian stereotypes.
Henry’s mother is apparently so cold and good at bargaining that she’d once bargained down ransomers that had kidnapped Henry. On top of that, she’s a shady rare artifacts dealer (the Dr. No trope that relies on the stereotype that East Asians are shady, self-serving, and can’t be trusted).
Henry reveals that English is his second language. Some of the other characters make fun of the way he speaks, which implies that there’s something odd about his speech or that he has an accent (the writing doesn’t reflect anything odd about how he speaks). Even if English is his second language, as a high school student going to an elite private high school, its very unlikely that Henry would have much of an accent, especially considering that the reader knows that Henry had been kidnapped at the age of ten, seemingly within North America, which means he’s been here at least that long.
Henry’s personality is self-hating and desperate to be accepted by his white counterparts (upper class white people). How many “Henry’s” do we need in fiction?
I could go on, but I want to keep this review at a reasonable length. Basically, Asian-Americans need to be written better.