A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers learn about the myth of the sleeping king -- the last Welshman to be titled Prince of Wales, Owen Glendower -- and the belief that his remains will endow someone with supernatural abilities. Teens also will learn about Virginia geography, particularly the Shenandoah Valley, Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the caverns under parts of the state.
As with the previous Raven Cycle books, this installment is about friendship, loyalty, and the way love can grow out of friendship. The power of friendship is so important that Blue and Gansey are still worried that Adam will be upset if they act on their feelings for each other. As she says, they're all in love with one another in different ways and go to remarkable lengths to help one another no matter the physical or emotional cost. Stiefvater explores how you can be poor by society's standards but rich in friendship and potential. The story also encourages intellectual curiosity, gender equality, and understanding and opening your heart to love, even if it's not from someone you expect.
Positive Role Models
Adam finally realizes that there's no shame or guilt in accepting help from friends who love him. He also realizes that one of his friendships has the potential of love, even if he doesn't know what to about it. He finally stops obsessing about status and realizes his favor needs to be to save a friend. Ronan and Gansey are millionaires, but they're more interested in their friendships and their passions than in conspicuous consumption or status flaunting. Ronan sees the potential and the greatness in Adam, even if Adam often doubts himself. Blue deals with a lot of conflicting feelings about Gansey and her contribution to the Raven Boys' mission. All the Raven Boys and Blue are fiercely loyal to one another and love one another other unconditionally. Calla, Persephone, and Maura all help and protect one another as well as Blue and the boys.
Violence & Scariness
A couple of characters die -- one in a paranormal fashion, the other in an execution-style shooting -- and other characters are beaten and held at gunpoint.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are a lot of lingering looks, charged but brief touches of hands, arms, legs, and one "everything but" kiss but no actual making out or revelation of feelings. The only mentions of actual sex are innuendos from an adult perspective about his long-term girlfriend. For example, in his inner monologue, the character makes jokes about needing to take his pants off to be ready in case his girlfriend's in a lusty mood. A guy is pretty sure his male friend has feelings for him because he shoots him "hungry looks."
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Strong language includes the occasional "f--k," "d--k," "s--t," and "a--hole."
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Products & Purchases
Stiefvater is known for her love of cars, and this installment is no exception: Audi, BMW, Camaro, Fisker, Pontiac, GMC Suburban, and so on.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult characters drink, mostly wine, on occasion.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in author Maggie Stiefvater's best-selling four-part series, The Raven Cycle. Although there are a couple of fight scenes (two involving people held at gunpoint) and deaths, there's actually less violence in this installment than in its two predecessors. And, although the romantic feelings and flirtatious banter ramp up in this story, the sexual chemistry is still more emotional than physical (with the exception of touching hands, embracing, or standing very close and looking longingly at one another with "hungry eyes"). Stiefvater is a famous gearhead, so expect many references to Gansey's Camaro and Suburban, Ronan's BMW, and a few other cars. The language is in keeping with the other novels ("f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "a--hole"). As with all of Stiefvater's stories, Blue Lily, Lily Blue is about friendship, love, and family.
Is It Any Good?
Maggie Stiefvater continues to outdo herself with each installment of The Raven Cycle. Usually by the middle of a multi-book series, an author either phones it in, throws in an unnecessary love triangle, or bogs the plot down with so much detail it's unclear if he or she knows how everything will end. Not so with Stiefvater, who's known for meticulously tying up loose threads and intricately adding in subtext in passages obsessive readers can pore over again and again for clues about characters' feelings, desires, and outcomes. For a lyrical writer with a gift for original metaphors and evocative language, she's managed to make this third book feel simultaneously fast-paced and leisurely. You won't want it to end, even as you're racing to the final page and counting the hours until the final installment in this riveting, layered tetralogy.
Somehow, against all odds, these books keep getting better and better. The character development, particularly for Adam and Ronan, is amazing -- as in, readers will be amazed at how perfectly these two fit together. Their scenes are so obvious they're reminiscent of Ron and Hermione's in the last two Harry Potter volumes, when you're waiting and waiting for them to stop all the hormonal bantering and bickering and just kiss already. Of course, kissing is the one thing Blue and Gansey can't do, so they make up for it with electrifying hand-holding and knee touching and basically staring at each other longingly. But the romances take a back seat to all the action, which involves new discoveries, secrets, and heartbreak -- all of which is so involved and engaging you'll just have to read it yourself. Just make sure to clear your calendar before you start.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.