Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: Raven Cycle #1
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 409
Read it in: 3 days
Source: ARC from the publisher

Summary: 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.
LC's Take:

"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve, Blue. Either you're his true love...or you killed him." 

With a darkly prophetic tag line like that, I knew pretty much right away that I had to read The Raven Boys. I've never read a book by Maggie Stiefvater before, but I can definitively say that I was not disappointed! With its diverse cast of characters and supernatural mystery and adventure, The Raven Boys was a really awesome and unique story that stood out from a lot of other YA...

Blue Sargent lives in a family of clairvoyants-- her mother is a psychic, along with the other women who live at her house. Blue doesn't have the gift of clairvoyancy, but she does have the ability to give energy to people and places, making supernatural occurrences much more likely when she is around. When Blue meets Gansey, one of the "the raven boys" from the elite Aglionby Academy, she is pulled into the supernatural rather unexpectedly, as they search for the legendary lost Glendower, an ancient Welsh king who is said to be hidden along a powerful ley line in Blue's town of Henrietta-- and can be re-awakened by whoever finds him.

So the thing that I loved most about this book was how much depth and complexity Maggie gives to her characters-- they aren't just there to add filler to the story; they have histories, they have inner conflict, and they have imperfections that make them seem real. It was this kind of in-depth character analysis that made me feel invested in the story, because the people I was reading about were easy to picture and relate to. Gansey, born to a life of privilege, worries that he'll never do anything meaningful in his life and is passionately driven in his quest to find Glendower. Ronan, who appears so dark and cold-hearted at first, turns out to have a very kind heart and strong sense of justice. Adam, who has a very troubled home life, struggles with overcoming his miserable life circumstances. Told from multiple points of view, Maggie lets the reader into the minds of her characters and you feel as though you really know them...

Except-- and here was the *one* thing that bugged me about this book-- I never felt like I got to know Blue Sargent as a character. This really surprised me, because I felt so connected with all the other characters in the book, even the minor ones-- but Blue, who is the main character, seemed very vague to me. Besides the fact that she has a special energy about her that can increase the force of supernatural occurrences (and the fact that she has an absolutely horrible sense of fashion and dresses like an 80-year old cat lady), I never felt like I was able to get a grasp on her personality. She was just... there. It was as though I could see things happening around Blue but she herself was very underdeveloped as a character, and I found this to be really strange, considering how vividly all the other characters were portrayed.

Besides Blue being a somewhat underdeveloped main character, I thought that everything else in The Raven Boys was very well done, so don't let that throw you off. The story and the pacing of the plot were done just right, and kept me anxiously turning the pages. Throughout the book, you can tell that there is something very strange going on, but you aren't given enough information to be able to fit all the pieces together right away. I loved this kind of suspense and build up, where as I read I learned a little bit more about all the characters and how they were connected and what was going on. And the supernatural in this book was made even better by Maggie's haunting and beautiful writing style-- everything flowed and made this book very easy to read.

So overall, I think that The Raven Boys stood out as a unique take on the supernatural genre, and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for something different. The end left me wondering what will happen next, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where this series goes!

 ~Cover Talk~ 

I am insanely in love with this cover-- I know it is really simple, but I think that is what makes it stand out from other YA book covers. And I only have the ARC edition, but they still splurged on the cover art-- The painted image of the raven is gorgeous, and both the title and Maggie's name are in raised lettering. The entire thing is on a shimmery paper, and what I really love most about the cover art for this book is that it doesn't appeal to only one group of readers-- it doesn't scream "YA!!" and it isn't directed only at girls by featuring a model in a fancy dress. I think that this is the kind of book cover that is eye-catching without trying too hard-- it's simple and beautiful, and a little dark and creepy at the same time. What's not to like? ;)

LC's Rating:
A unique and intelligent take on the supernatural, The Raven Boys was a story full of mystery and adventure. Vivid descriptions, deep character portrayals, and a well-paced plot kept me glued to the pages-- definitely a TBR add! 

 

3 comments:

  1. I agree about Blue, I didn't feel like I knew that much about her by the time the story ended. The other characters, however, were wonderfully written!

    Glad you enjoyed this one, Lea! Nice review :)

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  2. Awesome review Lea!! I read Maggie's book Shiver and did not enjoy it too much lol But this sounds really great so I think I may pick it up, thanks for the recommendation! (:

    Haley @ YA-Aholic

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  3. I have had this book sitting on my TBR pile for ages but have read mixed reviews so I've been quite hesitant to start on it, plus the fact I hear it is lacking in romance (which I need in my books) I haven't been too eager to read it.

    A fab review! I think I may just bump it up on my list :)

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