Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: Raven Cycle #1
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Source: BEA 2012 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the opinions expressed in my review.]

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.

I am always amazed by the way that Maggie Stiefvater writes. There’s a genuine rhythm and beauty when it comes to the words she chooses, and each and every book I’ve read from her definitely showcases that. The Raven Boys deviates slightly from the style that I’ve become accustomed to expecting from her, but that doesn’t detract from its wonderful mysteriousness and its interesting story elements.

I was certainly surprised to find myself so interested in the story of the ley lines, and Gansey’s intensive search for them in his quest to awaken Glendower. It’s a very obscure story, but interesting, and I like how Maggie Stiefvater treats it as this great big mysterious adventure.

I love that this book ultimately combines magical abilities with legends from yore. It’s always interesting to see the spin that authors will put on legends that actually exist, and Maggie definitely had me hooked with this one. It’s specifically about ley lines and Glendower, a Scottish king, and though I hadn’t heard of either one before, I ended up looking them up after I had finished the book and exploring the mystery further for myself. Plus, I love how it’s told in a way that seems plausible and fantastical all at the same time. There are elements that would be absurd in any other story, but for some reason, it really worked for me in this book.

Character-wise, I was definitely invested. Even the secondary characters (like Maura, Neeve, Whelk, Orla, Penelope, Calla) were interesting to me, and I’m glad Maggie gave them specific quirks that helped them be memorable. Of course, I was primarily interested in the main characters - Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah. Each character has their own history, their own perception of the adventure they embark on in their quest for the ley line. What’s interesting is how Maggie weaves these individuals into one little group, all while still making sure to probe their own stories. Noah and Ronan may not have gotten as much coverage in this book, but I’m confident that as the cycle continues, we’ll uncover more about them.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering, my favorite Raven Boy is Gansey, although he’s followed very closely by Ronan. I don’t know what it is about Ronan, but I definitely think he’s an interesting character. I am dying to learn more about him!)

As with all Maggie books that I’ve read, I will warn you that this book starts out slow. It’s never been a problem for me, as I don’t mind a slow build-up when it’s well-written, but I just wanted to throw that out there for people who have difficulty with that sort of thing. It’s worth pushing through it though, as the story quickly becomes interesting. 

I’m very intrigued by the direction Maggie is taking this story, though I find that I am heartily annoyed by that crazy cliffhanger of an ending (and not in a bad way, mind you, but in an “I need to know what happens next” way). The Raven Boys is certainly another delightful piece from Maggie Stiefvater, and as always, I admire the seamlessness of story and character in her writing.

This book is our BEA book club pick for September. See reviews from my fellow BEA book clubbers Shanella, Rachel & Amanda.

14 comments:

  1. lovely review :) And I agree that Maggie did a great job in defining each character uniquely, so they stayed in your mind.

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  2. GAH, I'm reading this review and wanting to run home to get my copy of this book and start it RIGHT NOW!! Awesome review, Alexa!

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  3. Oooh, yay, I'm so excited! After The Scorpio Races (my favorite of Stiefvater's books!), this was my MUST HAVE from BEA, but I've been so hesitant to actually read it because TSR was so magnificent. I love what you said about the characters, though, and I can't wait to meet them!

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  4. Sounds like a great book, I'll have to check it out!

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  5. I'm starting this book very soon, so thanks for the cliffhanger warning! It sounds like it's going to be great :)

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  6. I love the way you describe Maggie's writing! I REALLY loved the fact the book combined magic + legends too, it was so fascinating to me! I'm so curious to see how the rest of the series goes. Lovely review, A. :)

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  7. I haven't read any of Maggie's books yet, but I definitely want to read this one. I do have a very hard time when the pacing is slow in the beginning. I've been dealing with that with my current read and it's taken me a WEEK to read it. That's like book blasphemy! Haha! Great review, A!

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  8. I was excited to see your review for this book, I pretty much agree with everything you have said. I really liked how the ending was "ooh, Cliffhanger" but, still felt resolved.

    This was my first Maggie Steifvater book, and I can't wait to read some of her others.

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  9. I'm interested in reading this one! I've never checked out Maggie Stiefvater before, but I will have to! Maybe I'll start with The Scorpio Races, though, because the slow start is kind of a deterrent ...

    Great review, Alexa!

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  10. Great review! So far I've only read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, but I am eager to read more. I, too, really enjoy when a story is well-written and one that has good characterization - I feel that those two aspects of a book are far more important than a story that starts off with a bang. I appreciated how The Scorpio Races was a subtler sort of story, so I hope that continues here. Also, I love that Stiefvater draws on obscure stories and myths. So cool!

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  11. I know we chatted about this book just a little bit, but I have to agree with all of the things you said. Maggie's books are amazing; she finds ways to make me care about things that I had either never heard of before or couldn't imagine sparing two thoughts for. She takes things out of left field in terms of what we normally encounter in books and so I find lots of her books refreshing. Even when she writes about something more common in YA, like werewolves, she puts a spin on them that no one else does. I love that.
    And you know that I have soft spots for Gansey and Ronan. Ronan! I am always the most intrigued by the rougher, kind of broken, emo guys in books, and he's so damaged I just want to hug him all the time. I can't wait to read more about the ley lines and Glendower. It's odd and creepy and atmospheric. SUPER review, as always!

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  12. Ooooh I wanna read this one soon! Also, YES, Maggie's writing is ridiculously pretty. <3

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  13. Magical abilities and legends?

    OH HECK YES I AM PUMPED UP FOR THIS.

    Glad you loved it <3333333333333

    Also that BEA book club is a wicked smart idea.

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  14. Maggies is one of my very favorite authors, and this book started my love of her writing (I hadn't heard of her before, because I was living under a rock while I worked and went to school...).

    I love Gansey, and I'm hoping that somehow Blue & Gansey will end up together. I hope he's her true love and that somehow it won't kill him.

    Also...Ronan is a very lose second for me as well. I cannot wait to read more about him in the dream thieves. :) Yay!

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