Monday, January 25, 2016
Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, Book One
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 18 September 2012
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
“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. (summary from Goodreads)
The Raven Boys is a quietly striking novel, magical and riveting.
I've been meaning to read this book for years now but just kept putting it off. Not because I wasn't interested, because I definitely was. I've heard nothing but amazing things. Plus, Stiefvater is one of my favourite authors. Her style of writing completely awes me and I knew The Raven Boys wouldn't be any different. No, I put it off because I knew I wouldn't be able to handle the wait between books. I figured it'd be excruciating and I know I was right. I'm already eager to read the rest of the series now but there's still going to be a few months to wait for the release of the final book, The Raven King. Possibly I should've put off reading this for a little longer! Oh, well.
Suffice to say, after all that, I really liked The Raven Boys. It wasn't all out love, but it came close. The thing is, at the time of writing this review I've also gone on to read The Dream Thieves, and now my feelings about this series is an all encompassing adoration, but I'm trying to reign that in to review The Raven Boys on it's own! It was easy to fall into The Raven Boys and not want to put it down. Stiefvater's writing just has that way about it. It's beautifully poetic and spellbinding. Based on Welsh folklore, her story is infused with a magic that is captivating. The narrative of The Raven Boys is a little slower. We're introduced to a multitude of characters early, thrown into Blue's hectic psychic world and the idea of Glendower, but the build up at times felt a little stilted. It was interesting, and the writing lovely and easy, but for a while there I felt separated from it still. There's many adventures that pull the pieces together a bit at a time. What I enjoyed is that here and there the thrill of the mystery, of the danger, would spark, and before I knew it I was on the edge of my seat, completely hooked. The Raven Boys is told through the point of views of Blue, Gansey, Adam and Barrington Whelk, and I appreciated the switches because it helped to increase the tension, especially those of Whelk's. I'm totally in love with Cabeswater and want more and more. This, this stole my heart; it's visions, and changing colour fish, and talking trees, and playing with time. It completely captured my imagination and left me wonderstruck.
The brilliance of Stiefvater isn't just in her enchanting prose but in her creating complex characters. With five main characters and a slew of secondary characters she had her work cut out for her, but she nails it. It took me longer to warm up to Blue than others. There's just something disconnected about her. I'm not sure it's not purposeful though. She's apparently ordinary in this wider astonishing world and has been told she'll kill her true love so many times that it's like it's not meaningful to her anymore, even though it plays on her mind. She thinks about it a lot but it feels rote. I love Blue's spunk though and I'm definitely looking forward to her journey from here. Gansey is also slightly disconnected, but again I wonder if he's meant to be. There's a lot of references to the different Gansey's, so getting to know the real one is sure to take time. I adore his earnestness and his utter love and support of those close to him. I definitely get the young and old at once descriptions, because there's an innocence to Gansey that delights, but he's also wise. Personally, I got very frustrated with Blue and Adam's judging Gansey for his rich boy status. The hypocrisy of not wanting to be judged for being poor but then constantly judging Gansey for a financial status out of his control really got on my nerves. I think that pushed me to love Gansey more. I found myself just wanting to wrap my arms around him and pet his hair while I glared at everyone until they backed off! Yeah, I know. I am not a fan of Adam, as it stands. I feel for his situation, it is terrible and unfair and he absolutely deserves better. But better doesn't mean money and prestige, and while ambition is admirable, paired with resentment and bitterness it's hateful. So I dislike and distrust Adam. I'm afraid of where Adam's pride and ambition will take him as the series continues. I also admit to not liking him as a love interest for Blue. That is no way a flaw of The Raven Boys though, but just my own personal hang up. Love triangles, guh. Blue and Gansey is so obvious that I simply don't have the patience for anything else. Speaking of unfair judgement, yes? While Ronan and Noah don't get point of view chapters here, they are no less impacting. I don't see how they could be with how Stiefvater portrays them. They're so solid. Ronan's rage blazes and Noah, despite his shyness, mysteriousness and fading into the background act, is just so attention grabbing! There's so much to these two and I'm desperate to learn more. There's still Whelk, Blue's extended family, Gansey, Adam and Ronan's families that are major players in this series but I could be here forever writing about everyone and everything! The proof of Stiefvater's talent is that each and every one of them, even the most secondary characters, are distinct and stand out. That realness, the genuity of her characters, blows me away.
The Raven Boys is a rollercoaster - it's slow and fast, has it's ups and downs, it's twists and turns, and I just spread my arms and enjoyed the journey. Be overcome!