Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)Book: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: Raven Cycle
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 408
Rating: 4 Stars

“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.
 Gansey, she warned, but she felt unstable and dangerous. I just want to pretend, Gansey said, the words misting on her skin. I want to pretend that I could.

First of all, I received this ARC from a Goodreads giveaway, and I spent an appropriately long time fawning over the cover after it arrived. So thanks, Scholastic, for making a girl go crazy over a...painted raven.

I approached The Raven Boys dubiously, since I've read Stiefvater's books, and I got the sensation that they were either really boring, spent too much time on details, or the guys were total pansies (Sam, not Sean. I liked Sean, even though it took him a while to get to the point.). Thus, I am happy to say that this book did not do any of these, and that I think it's the best of Stiefvater's writing that I've seen to date.

The book starts with an unhealthy dose of intrigue, and I was forced to pay attention to each word said, since all of them seemed to have some hidden meaning that would be unveiled towards the end. Also, Stiefvater's gorgeous writing continues to play a large part, except now it's actually relevant to the story. Her style is very well suited to the sort of atmosphere she creates in The Raven Boys, one that's normal on the outside but throwing off sparks of hidden magic on the inside. I was less dissatisfied with the world-building in this book, though there is the fact that it doesn't extend beyond Blue's weird home and the Gansey's apartment. Everything else is fantastical and otherworldly, and Stiefvater does a wonderful job of creating these other worlds apart from the real one.

 I do want to note, however, that Stiefvater seems to really like the word dusty. Just an observation.

What I loved most, however, as I loved about The Scorpio Races, is the uniqueness of the characters that she creates. Not only Blue and Gansey are people worth loving for; Stiefvater makes the side characters matter in a way that not all authors can. I cared about them. I cared about Adam and the fact that he's more than a scholarship student, I cared about Ronan and the fact that he's still living with some sort of secret, I cared about Noah and the way he likes petting Blue's hair. They're all so distinct from each other, it's impossible to forget them. Blue's mother and her psychic friends are also not exactly forgettable.

Where do you live?
Adam's mouth was very set. "A place made for leaving." 

You'll have to forgive me for my sparse quotes; I didn't really take copious notes while reading because I was too busy flipping pages. But my point is that everything the characters say and do is special, and you keep an eye on their words. I certainly did. They also throw in a little humor on the side that adds another dimension of reality to their world, even though it's nothing like ours.

One thing I really felt cheated on, though? The relationship. From the get-go, Blue's warned that she'll cause her true love's death. She's incessantly warned of this, and she mentions it multiple times. She meets four boys who are very much available (okay, maybe not emotionally, but you get my drift). She shares some tiny, cute moments with Adam, like when he gives her a puny bouquet or the infrequent hand-holding. But there was almost nothing with Gansey except for some weird visions. After reading the blurb, I fully expected their relationship to at least solidify in this book, but I got nothing of the sort. The quote I gave you guys at the beginning of the review? It's a lie. IT'S ALL A LIE. I mean, I didn't make it up. But it's one of the few teasing morsels that Stiefvater tosses to us.

I don't know about you, but I don't like SCRAPS.

If you come into this expecting a deep, all-encompassing love, be ready for disgruntlement. I only hope that Stiefvater develops this in her next couple books, or else I will be a very unhappy girl, indeed.

Now that I think about it, I didn't really like Gansey any more than I liked everyone else. He did always seem like a guy with too much free time on his hands, despite our glimpses into the emptiness inside him. I think my favorite of the guys is Ronan, considering his bitter past and the little affection he lets seep through. If you ask me about my favorite character, though, it'll always be Chainsaw. Oh, Chainsaw. So much love for that black feathered beast.

I'm very excited over what's happening next! Gansey and Blue better do it soon.

Thank you to Scholastic Press for sending me an ARC of this book.
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  1. I'm dying to read this one!! I was totally expecting an epic/tragic romance, so I'm SO disappointed to hear that he was barely in it! :( I'll still be reading this, but I'll keep that in mind so I don't expect too much. I'm glad you still liked it though! Sounds like there's a lot of potential for this series. Awesome review, and I love that quote, short as it is.

    1. Once Stiefvater gets to it, it'll probably be an epic/tragic romance! It's not that he's barely in it, it's that the romance is barely present. But it is a wonderful book, and I do recommend it. I hope you like!