Title: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Published: September 18, 2012 by Scholastic
Source: ARC from BEA 2012
Genre: Paranormal | Fantasy
Group age: Young adult
Challenge(s): TRB Pile 2013
Grade rate: B+
“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.
Once upon a time I went to BEA for the first time, actually it was last year, but never mind that part. Anyway, I stood in line waiting for a signed ARC of The Raven Boys for about an hour and a half. This was, by far, the longest line I waiting on and I was ever so happy with my new shiny book. And then… it sat on the shelf for over a year (not an uncommon happening around here.)
At this juncture you might be thinking one of two things: Is this a review or what? OR/AND, Why stand in line for such a long time for a book. Well, I promise to get on with the review in the next paragraph; as soon as I explain the why. I adore Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. I have now read everything she’s ever published. I adore the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and just a few months ago I “read” The Scorpio Races (in audio book) and I can assuredly say it’s one of my favorite books ever. I’ve also heard Maggie speak at two book events and I follow her blog. In essence, I’m a fan. Now, the review…
The Raven Boys was an unexpected surprise. It has a different quality to her other books, it lacks the pure lyricism of The Scorpio Races and the romanticism of Shiver; instead it is something else. Something new, different and unique.
The Raven Boys (as Blue calls them) are: Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah. This is an unlikely group of friends. They form a ‘family’ of sorts being led by Gansey. Gansey is the glue that keeps them all together; he is exceptional, caring and careless at the same time. He has one goal in mind and he has the temperament and the resources to see it through.
Ronan is ruthless, tough, hard to get to know, in pain, and troubled, but he is like a brother to Gansey and loyal to the core. He has gone through a really hard time and it’s trying to make peace with that fact. Adam is very smart and not rich like Ronan and Gansey. He has a partial scholarship to Anglioby and works really hard to pay for school, works really hard on his grades, it seems like everything is hard for him, especially his family life. It’s so hard to read those parts of the story because they are often heartbreaking. Noah is the easygoing one, always there when needed and he has a big secret.
And then, there’s Blue. For some reason Blue, and to some extent her family, form a tight circle of protection around the Raven Boys. Blue is different to everyone else in the group. She’s pragmatic, open minded, practical, loved, sarcastic, and a little weird. It must be really hard growing up with this sort of prophesy that foresees a doomed love. I really enjoyed reading about her extended family, her mom and her aunts, that are all true psychics.
The writing (as the quotes below can testify) is impeccable. As I mentioned before, it is different than her usual style and a bit strange, but it’s still insightful and beautiful. The plot is probably what confused me the most. It is a mix of true psychics, a mystery (or mysteries), very serious conflict between friends and within families, and the paranormal. At the end it all works together, but it wasn’t love at first sight like it was for her other books.
Overall, The Raven Boys is a fascinating story and a testament to Maggie Stievfater’s imagination and endless capability of surprising the reader with a book that is somewhat something more.
Some quotes for you:
“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”
“Maura had decided sometime before Blue's birth that it was barbaric to order children about, and so Blue had grown up surrounded by imperative question marks.”
“The fact was, by the time she got to high school, being weird and proud of it was an asset. Suddenly cool, Blue could've happily had any number of friends. And she had tried. But the problem with being weird was that everyone else was 'normal'".
“Where do you live?"
Adam's mouth was very set. "A place made for leaving"
"That's not really an answer."
"It's not really a place.”
“From the passenger seat, Ronan began to swear at Adam. It was a long, involved swear, using every forbidden word possible, often in compound-word form. As Adam stared at his lap, penitent, he mused that there was something musical about Ronan when he swore, a careful and loving precision to the way he fit the words together, a black-painted poetry. It was far less hateful sounding than when he didn’t swear.”
About the cover: I find the cover so pretty and artistic at the same time. The raven is (of course!) very important for more than the obvious reasons.