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Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater @mstiefvater

The Raven Boys is the first of four YA paranormal books in The Raven Cycle. The last book, The Raven King, will be released next year on Februrary 23rd.

If you want a fun way to stay informed of the release or just want a happy spot in your day, follow Stiefvater on Twitter. I always gut-ache-laugh when reading her tweets. Plus, she’s an artist and a musician and posts links all the time to her creations.
The_Raven_BoysIt 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 real main character of The Raven Boys isn’t Blue but Gansey. Think The Great Gatsby—how the real main character isn’t the narrator Nick but Gatsby. Gansey is the driving force in this book, and he’s the glue keeping Blue and his groupies together. Without him, there would be no Raven Boys.

The synopsis doesn’t quite cover what The Raven Boys is really about—Pull out your compass and knapsacks guys, because it’s a treasure hunt! Gansey isn’t just on a quest. He’s on an epic search to find the missing buried king Glendower. And he needs Blue’s help to find the Ley lines, psychic energy lines, that help point to Glendower’s burial spot.

The synopsis also promises a romantic tryst with Gansey. Don’t bet your savings on it. I found the lack refreshing since every book has romance as a priority, while the relationship in The Raven Boys is more subtle and unforced. Though I’m guessing more romance comes later in the series.

Despite the grand nature of Gansey’s quest, the first half of The Raven Boys is slow moving. I did enjoy the characters. Stiefvater in no way created cookie cutter characters. But, full disclosure—I almost put it down. I am a plot person, and I thought a grand search for a missing king would be a bit more, well, exciting.

Until the truth about Noah (one of Gansey’s groupies) surfaced. That hooked me. Now we knew real danger was involved. (dun dun duuuuuun.)

My favorite character is probably Adam. (besides Blue’s house of psychics. How can you not love an eccentric bunch of soothsayers?) I didn’t grow up with an abusive father, but the portrayal seemed pretty realistic to me. We watch him grow from an abused boy to an empowered individual, and I couldn’t help but cheer for him the entire way.

I will keep reading the series. Not only because of another revelation dangled in the very last sentence of the book like fish bait, but because the book plays on the balance of magic. The book seems to take place in a normal world, then bam! Psychics are real; ley lines are real; ghosts are real. Is magic real too? If so, then–

Can Gansey and the crew truly find the buried king?

Shoot—I wanna know! Sign me up!

In short, reading The Raven Boys is like taking a long stroll through England (it doesn’t take place in England, but it feels like it could). If you want an action packed book with badass boys and girls or a book where romance is the main theme, this probably isn’t for you. But if you want to be startled by a couple revelations, connect some plot dots yourself, and stroll along beautiful writing and hints of great adventure and castles and romantic promise, then this might be a good book for you.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Great review, Abby! I agree with you completely. I almost put Raven Boys down too because it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I’m soooo glad I finished it! Let me just say, Dream Thieves is AMAZING!!! Seriously, talk about crazy good revelations… And now I want to reread it!

    1. That makes me so excited to read it! Dream Thieves is sitting in my to-read pile, waving its little booky arms every time I walk by. I want to read more about the little bird Chainsaw 🙂

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