Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys book coverThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Goodreads|Book Depository
Release Date: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Series: Raven Cycle #1

Goodreads description:“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.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before

I love this book so much that this review is probably way too long and probably includes some rambling. I’ve been in kind of a slump lately, so it was good to read a book I really enjoyed! For some reason, even though I’d been looking forward to this book for a while, I didn’t know this was the beginning of a series until I was reading it. Oops!

I really like Blue Sargent; she feels genuine. She’s nice but not cheesy sweet and sarcastic but not cold. She is eccentric to people outside of 300 Fox Way, but sensible compared to psychics that inhabit it. While Blue has no psychic abilities to date, she does amplify the gift for others. Her mom, cousin and mom’s best friends provide psychic services for the people of Henrietta, Virginia. For the public they make simple, nonspecific predictions that are true but could be seen as coincidences. Around the house, they make a slightly more specific predictions that vary from one psychic to another. However, there is one prediction they all agree on: if Blue kisses her true love, he’ll die. So she has rules for herself about boys: don’t mess with them, especially the boys from the snotty all-boys school in town, Aglionby, boys that are known around town as Raven Boys. So when she learns this is the year she’ll fall in love, she knows things are sure to get interesting. Then she sees Gansey on St. Mark’s, and she is connected to a Raven Boy she’s never met.

Gansey is on a mission. For years he has been following legends and rumors to learn about Glendower, a Welsh king that disappeared thousands of years ago. He searches passionately and learns about ley lines – energy lines that connect spiritual places around the world. He’s the “the third”  (as in Richard “Dick” Campbell Gansey III) of his über wealthy, old money family, so his search has unlimited resources, including an empty factory that he bought for his base of operations. There, he and his loyal group of followers work to solve a mystery. Ronan, Adam, and Noah are devoted to Gansey, their beloved leader. They’re all Raven Boys: Adam is a scholarship kid, Ronan is troubled and angry, and Noah is quiet and reclusive.

The boys coincidentally meet up with Blue, except to them nothing is really a coincidence. She starts helping them with look for Glendower and ley lines, only to uncover more mysteries at every turn. She hits it off with Adam right away, but doesn’t get along with Gansey. They’re drawn to each other and he loves to tease her. She isn’t impressed by his wealth or how easily things come to him, so he has to work for her good opinion. He wants her approval even if he doesn’t understand why. She knows that he’s different, but he’s passionate and kind, and definitely not the person he seems like at first glance. She’s also glimpsed his future and knows that death is looming for him and she’s determined to help change that.  They circle each other and I absolutely love it.

The friendship between the four guys is so comfortable, yet they’re all still so vulnerable. They each have insecurities and secrets. They are family; they fight, they joke, and they watch out for each other. Each one is so realistically male that I never rolled my eyes and thought, “Yeah right, what teenage guy would ever do that?” It was interesting to see the differences between Adam and Gansey and how much not having and having money affected their lives and their bond with each other. While Adam is self-conscious of what he doesn’t have and has pride issues, Gansey has more money than he can spend but wants to make something for himself.

I loved all the mystery and magic involved in this story. I loved reading about the ley lines, lost kings, scrying,  tarot cards, and every other mystical thing.  I felt like the supernatural aspects of this novel were more complex and had reasoning and follow through, as opposed to some YA books that seem to just puzzle snap into place. This book had characters that were passionate and had goals. They have interests and beliefs and realistic personalities.

I’ve read some reviews that felt like the book was slow to get into, but I was hooked right away. The only complaint I have with the book is the typical “first book of the series” ending: a lot of information was pushed into one book, and then the end is rushed and you’re left feeling slightly cold and abrupt. Even if there are other books coming, there are a few things that are introduced then aren’t mentioned again. I’m sure loose ends will be picked up again in the rest of the series. And while I loved the change of perspective and they all added important insight, sometimes it was a little crowded.

HOWEVER, I’m really excited to see what else happens with these characters, and I really hope the rest of the series measures up to it and answers all the important questions I have. I never read the Shiver series, but I love The Scorpio Races and feel pretty confident Maggie can handle it. I want everyone I know to read this and discuss it with me! I enjoyed it so much that I created an Etsy treasury of items inspired by it. 

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One thought on “Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. Pingback: What I’ve Been Pushing Lately | a blighted one

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