The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: Raven Cycle #1
Publication: Scholastic Press (first published 2012), ARC, 409pg
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Source: ALA 2012
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It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore. (from Amazon)
I have NEVER read a Maggie Stiefvater book before, which you’ll understand if you consider her previously published books. Paranormal romance trilogy with werewolves and a love triangle? Eh. Dystopian thingy? Eh. Not really anything that personally interests me at the moment, so even though lots of people love her books and there’s tons of hype about everything she does, I have neglected to actually read any of her stuff.1
Then came ALA, and there was a big pile of ARCs just sitting around staring at me, and the cover was SO pretty and I looked at the summary and I thought: why not? It didn’t LOOK like a paranormal romance (and it’s not, though there is, in fact, a romance) and I like stories with psychics and whatnot. So! I took a copy.
And then I forgot about it until one of my Goodreads groups picked it for the monthly readalong. Well! Why not read it now, I thought. And so I did. And I am KICKING MYSELF.
WHY have I not read a Maggie Stiefvater book before?! Or at least THIS book– why did I wait so long? The Raven Boys is SO. GOOD. OMFG.
The writing! It reminds me a bit of a John Green’s writing, only with less lyricalness. There’s humor! I wasn’t expecting there to be funny bits. The balance between spooky and non-spooky is practically perfect. There’s really interesting stuff about class, money, how people perceive each other based on what they THINK is true, etc. Stuff about friendships and obsessions and death! The raven boys are SUCH PERFECT teenagers, albeit more enthralling than real life teenagers tend to be. And the plot is very exciting!
My favorite part(s) was the thing with the woods, the trees that spoke Latin. No spoilers, so I won’t say much, but it was VERY cool. And creepy! Loved it.
The romance, now. I was surprised at how slow it was, even IF this is just the first book in a trilogy. I liked it! Slow burns are nice, and this one has the potential to be very nice. Though, yeah, it’ll probably turn into a love triangle– the triangle was still being formed in this book, so it’s not as annoying as it could be. Think of The Hunger Games and how that whole thing went. I’m kinda hoping something similar will happen with this series! It’ll be something different. I like different.
Okay, now, there WAS something that bugged me about The Raven Boys: Blue’s character. She’s a good protagonist in that you’re interested in reading about what happens to her throughout the book, but I think that might only be because of a) the true love/possible murder thing, and b) she’s involved with the raven boys, who are VERY interesting character. Blue’s really…not FLAT, but there’s little substance.
She doesn’t have any friends but the raven boys. She has a lot of family, but she doesn’t even know what any of them do outside of their psychic work. She doesn’t have hobbies. She has multiple jobs, but she only ever talks to one coworker. We see her doing homework but it’s quickly interrupted by a raven boy appearance. Her superpower is that she boosts other people’s psychic abilities! It’s like she only exists to get into the raven boys’ storyline, and to nudge them towards the right clues. She doesn’t have a life of her own.
You could have taken her entire POV out of the book and it probably wouldn’t have mattered. That’s kind of not good. Maybe a lot of stuff got cut out during editing? Because it’s weird that we get TONS of stuff about the raven boys’ lives, including a scene of them being in school during class, but Blue is in a sort of non-reality bubble. She’s the lens that we see the majority of the story through, but we never pull back enough to see HER.
Maybe she’s in the bubble because of the whole “oh I can’t kiss anyone” thing and that’s made her pull away from people, and so she has no life. But since she’s straight she could at least have some lady friends, right? And that doesn’t excuse the fact that she doesn’t even know what the other women in her house do for her day job, which is STRANGE. They live practically in each other’s pockets in that house, but she doesn’t know them at all?
I’m thinking that perhaps this stuff will be sorted out in the next book. Or maybe it was just an oversight. Maybe I’m wrong because I read the ARC version and not the final version– maybe Blue has non-raven boy friends in the final version, eh? Or maybe I’m right and there’s something wonky about Blue.
Anyway, Blue’s bubble problem notwithstanding, I IMMENSELY enjoyed The Raven Boys. The last line nearly killed me, and I can’t wait to read the next book!2
Read: January 13-15, 2013