Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Published September 18th 2012 by Scholastic Press
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance
Reading Level: Pre-teen
ISBN 0545424925 (ISBN13: 9780545424929)
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“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
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.
Maggie Stiefvater is a hot name right now after the book blogs exploded with glowing reviews of The Scorpio Races last year. It didn’t sound quite like my cup of tea but I couldn’t miss the announcement of her newest book, The Raven Boys. Now that was a book that sounded like I could enjoy it. When I realized that there were the four Aglionby boys, Blue, plus her whole wacky family and that all of them seemed to get a fair amount of page time I thought The Raven Boys might suffer from having too many characters. While I would have liked to see more of Blue and a bit more depth for her, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the number of characters. Instead, Stiefvater manages to somehow control what should have been an otherwise out of control story.
I have nicknamed this book ‘the novel where everyone needs therapy’. This is because the boys are all nuts. Blue is the only sane one and she’s part of a clairvoyant family of weirdo women, so that’s saying a lot. Ronan actually disturbs me and we never find out the details of his backstory, which is frustrating. He has the last line in the novel and it promises a new adventure and weirdness in the sequel that I can’t wait for. Adam’s pride is both understandable and his worst trait. I don’t understand why everyone is so sensitive to Gansey. He’s acting perfectly normal and I think both Adam and Blue are just trying to be insulted by what he says because they want to find fault in him. It makes Adam and Blue seem a little childish. Noah seems to be a cardboard cutout and unimportant until he suddenly is. The only disappointing character is the ‘villain’, Whelk. He’s nonexistent for most of the book and I would have liked to see his thought processes a bit more.
The plot is fascinating. The sleeping king legend, of which King Arthur is only the most well-known, is seen many times in history. I made a small study of ley lines when I was a teen and have actually tracked a line using dowsing rods before. I sucked at it, of course, but I can remember it felt like there was a lot of static electricity in the air and if I touched anything I might explode into a star. It was awesome and I find the strange occurrences the teens experienced along the ley line intriguing. It’s like if a person could only step a little sideways, a little out of frame, they might be able to find the same thing.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is a great offering from a fantastic author. I’ll have to give some of her other books a try to see if I love them just as much. Some readers might still be overwhelmed by the number of characters, it is a little hard to know where to focus sometimes, but The Raven Boys is an excellent book that blends reality and the fantastical into a story that grips the reader until the end. Highly recommended.
Rating: 4.5 out 5