Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys book cover
Image from LC’s Adventures in Libraryland

Title:  The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)

Author:  Maggie Stiefvater

Genre:  Paranormal

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be-dead walk past.  Blue has never seen them…until this year, when a boy speaks to her.  His name is Gansey, and he’s a student at Aglionby, the local private school.  Blue has a policy of staying away from the students – the Raven Boys, as they’re called, are rich, spoiled, and always mean trouble. 

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t explain.  Gansey’s on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, whose violent emotions rage from anger to despair; and Noah, the quiet one who notices everything but says little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will kill her true love.  She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem.  But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

After reading Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races and finding it so much better than I’d expected, I figured I’d try The Raven Boys.  The psychic part sounded interesting, at least.

Based on the synopsis, I figured that Gansey was looking for something important and somehow ropes Blue into his quest, and Blue falls for him because he’s not mean and stuck-up like the other Raven Boys.

Not only did The Raven Boys not agree with my expectations, it knocked them down, trampled them to dust, and made me wonder where I ever got those idiotic ideas.

For starters, Blue wasn’t the only main character.  In fact, I’d go far enough to say that she wasn’t the main character at all.  The story belonged just as much, perhaps more, to Gansey and his friends.  That’s not to say Blue isn’t an important character (she was, and I think she will become more important in later books), but it seemed that the whole focus of the plot was on Gansey and his friends.

Unlike I expected, Adam, Ronan, and Noah weren’t the stereotyped, dislikable people I thought they would be.  They each had their own particular issues that, somehow, make them amazing characters.  Adam was a good kid, but he didn’t come from money and resents that everyone he goes to school with has more than they can waste.  I don’t know if it was just the way Ronan was or if it was the way he expressed it, but his emotions seemed to be more violent than normal.  And Noah’s a mystery, which is solved in a creepy but completely logical way.

Gansey was a great leader, although sometimes a little clueless about people’s feelings, and he really did care about his friends.  He was capable of great passion, and sometimes didn’t seem completely sane, and then the next minute he’d be the professional businessman, using his manners and his money to get his way with adults.  There were a lot of different aspects to his personality, and I can’t come up with just one adjective to describe him.

Blue was a quirky kind of character.  Her mother described her as “eccentric,” and that fits her perfectly, from the way she dresses to the way she acts.  I didn’t feel that she was as fleshed out as the boys, though.  I’m hoping that changes in later books.

I think the main plot was Gansey’s mysterious quest.  (I won’t say more about that, because half the fun of the story is figuring out what he’s up to.)  But many a time that got sidetracked by the characters, who, for lack of a better way to describe it, were the subplots.  And honestly, I didn’t mind, because as fascinating as Gansey’s quest was, I enjoyed the subplots just as much.

The whole story felt like a giant puzzle.  At around page 100, I felt like I had the edges done – I had the basic idea of what was going on and who the characters were.  Many times through the book, I felt like I was just handed a puzzle piece but had no idea where it went.  And then a piece would snap neatly into place, clearing up that one detail but bringing up another detail that I needed another piece for.  I like to think I can guess where a story’s going pretty accurately, but I didn’t guess half of the twists!

I completely adored this book.  It was one of those stories that twisted my emotions upside down and inside out, and by the time I read the last page, I felt emotionally wiped out.  But I loved it!  And I hate hate hate that book two, The Dream Thieves, doesn’t come out until September.

This is one of those books that I recommend you read for yourself.  Because there is no way this review did it justice.

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