Author: Carol Goodman
Genre: Teen/Fantasy Fiction/Romance/Sequel
Summary: Avaline Hall is no ordinary girl. She's a student at the Blythewood Academy, an elite boarding school that trains young women to defend human society from the shadowy forces that live among us. After the devastating events of her first year at Blythewood, Ava is eager to reunite with her friends - and with Raven, the compelling but elusive winged boy who makes her pulse race. She soon discovers, though, that the sinister Judicus van Drood hasn't finished wreaking havoc on Blythewood - and wants to use Ava and her classmates to attack a much bigger target. Ava's the only one with any hope of stopping van Drood. But to scuttle his plans, she must reveal her deepest secret to everyone at Blythewood. What's she willing to sacrifice to do what's right: Her school? Her love? Or her life? -Viking/Penguin, 2014.
I'm publishing this right after writing my previous review on an adult Carol Goodman book so if the juxtaposition between these two reviews is shocking, I apologize.
I'm going to come right out and say it. I think someone told Goodman to make the romance the main focus of this book. I can find no other explanation for why this book was so lukewarm compared to its predecessor. The first book, while not mindblowing, was well-developed, evenly paced, and it made sense. I didn't feel as if anything was lacking, I didn't think the characterization suffered, and I didn't find too many flaws with Blythewood. Ravencliffe is a different story - and I don't just mean that literally.
Spoilers will be kept a minimum.
I finished this book within a day and a half. In spite of it being 418 pages, it wasn't enough. The story was severely underdeveloped. There was little to no character development for the majority of the cast. So much time is focused on Ava and her internal monologues that there are huge chunks of the book where she is with side characters who ultimately don't matter that much in the course of the larger plot. She spends a ton of time with Raven because of her "secret" and while that's fine, equal amounts of time need to be spent on her time at the school.
Time passes so quickly that when Ava suddenly says that it's winter, I'm shocked. I thought we were in early autumn?! What happened to the semester? Aren't Helen and Daisy supposed to be important characters? Why have we barely seen them?
The mini conflicts are resolved within a few chapters and are not given the attention they should be, as they are deep problems involving trust and honesty. The main conflict, while serious, is introduced so late in the story that it is resolved almost too quickly. I feel as if Goodman is setting up the final book in the trilogy, rather than properly fleshing out the plot and developing the characters further. Even with all of the time Ava spends with Raven, I don't feel as if she or Raven have developed any further, nor do I know him as a character any better than I did in the first novel.
It's really a shame since I know Goodman is a better writer than this. Maybe it's because this is her first teen series or something, but I found this sequel lacking in so many ways. Just from reading almost all of her novels, I know she likes romance on a subtle level - even in her romance novel trilogy she doesn't let the romance dominate the main plot. She doesn't force it or make it super crucial to the plot. I think she might have been advised poorly and wasn't allowed to treat the romance the way she wanted.
This was okay. It wasn't horrific, but it wasn't as good as its predecessor.
I give Ravencliffe a B-.
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