Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys

Title:  The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1)
Author:  Maggie Stiefvater
Pages:  408
Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Obtained:  Book Signing
Summary:  "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.

The Dish:  I cannot always put into words how I feel after reading one of Maggie Stiefvater's books.  They always leave an impression on me once I close the cover and mull over what I thought about the story.  While I loved Shiver and The Scorpio Races, there is something entirely different about the writing in The Raven Boys.  And I think I loved it even more because it shows how much Stiefvater's writing has grown.

As with most books, what I really enjoyed was meeting the characters and watching their development.  Blue is one of those girls that I'm sure most people knew in school as the "odd girl" but rather than let her "oddness" get her down, she lets it define her.  Given her family's peculiar set of skills as psychics, particularly her own mother Maura, her worries when she isn't thought of as odd seem justified.  I would have liked having her as a friend when I was a teen. 

What I found most intriguing was the unique medley of Raven Boys that Blue comes into contact with by what some would call sheer chance though her family would disagree.  Hot-blooded and alcoholic Ronan, studious yet resentful Adam, calm and soft-spoken Noah, and obliviously condescending Gansey.  By all normal rights, these boys would have no reason to be seen with each other, but they are friends because of Gansey and his ambition.  Fortunately, like Blue, the reader is treated to a small unraveling portion of the enigma that is Gansey's group, and that really drove me further in my reading. 

The going felt a little slow at first when I started reading the book, but after about one-third of the book, it began to pick up gradually.  With all of the introductions needing to be made within Blue's household and then with the Raven Boys, the slow reading felt real.  The reader needs time to learn about each character and their background, and I appreciated the time Stiefvater took with each person and even when describing 300 Fox Way (Blue's home), Monmouth Manufacturing (Gansey's apartment), and the Pig (Gansey's 1973 Camaro).

Readers should definitely look at The Raven Boys as a beginning to a greater story, and while a few questions are answered by the last page, there are many that remain a mystery.  And personally, I'm looking forward to the journey Stiefvater will take her readers on in order to solve those mysteries.

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