Sunday, September 9, 2012

Raven Boys,by Maggie Stiefvater- Review

From Goodreads:
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 have a handful of serious author crushes.  People whose writing is always captivating for me, who I get all tongue tied when I meet them, who I follow every single blog post, tweet and tidbits with a devotion I show to nobody else.  In this Stiefvater keeps company with Libba Bray, and Laini Taylor, and I am happy to say The Raven Boys has only increased my level of respect for her writing.

It was hardly a surprise that once again Stiefvater has written a rich and compelling book, full of fascinating characters I loved dearly. Or that I was positively swept away for two days, completely unable to focus on anything that wasn't The Raven boys. It was so deeply enjoyable I was sorely tempted to circle back to the first page, the moment I had turned the last.

There are so very many things I love about her writing, but I am endlessly fascinated by her unusual but completely concise and evocative descriptions.  She leaves the reader with so much more than just the look of the person, or the feeling of a moment.  It's the polar opposite of so many writers, and it works so well I wonder why she doesn't have a string of copy cats.
Ronan and Declan Lynch were undeniably brothers, with the same dark brown hair and sharp nose, but Declan was solid where Ronan was brittle.  Declan's wide jaw and smile said, Vote for me while Ronan's buzzed head and thin mouth warned that this species was poisonous.
"My socially inhibited friend Adam thinks you're cute, but he's unwilling to make a move.  Over there. Not the smudgy one. Not the sulky one."
Blue, largely against her will, glanced to the booth he pointed to.  Three boys sat at it: one was smudgy, just as he said, with a rumpled, faded look about his person, like his body had been laundered too many times.  The one who'd hit the light was handsome and his head was shaved; a soldier in a war where the enemy was everyone else.  And the third was --- elegant.  It was not the right word for him, but it was close.  He was fine-boned and a little fragile-looking, with blue eyes pretty enough for a girl.
It's a style she's become more and more fluent in as her books stack up, and I love it exponentially with each one.

Though Blue and Gansey are obviously the two characters the story revolves around, Stiefvater has created a fantastic ensemble cast with both the boys of  Gansey's circle and the women of Blue's household.  That these two incredibly different worlds collide is one of the many strange aspects of The Raven Boys which works amazingly but is impossible to describe.

As per usual, Stiefvaters dialogue and situations are both funny and clever, and I found myself laughing at the oddest of moments.
Ronan caught Whelk's eye and held it in an unfriendly sort of way.  Despite his interest in Latin, Ronan had declared their Latin teacher a socially awkward shitbird earlier in the year and further clarified that he didn't like him.  Because he despised everyone, Ronan wasn't a good judge of character, but Gansey had to agree that there was something discomfiting about Whelk.
Calla retrieved the novel she'd been reading and started upstairs.  Her voice carried down toward them. "That reminds me.  you need to get that belt looked at on the Ford.  I see a breakdown in your future.  Next to that sketchy furniture store.  A very ugly man with a cell phone will stop and be overly helpful."
But I also loved these characters inordinately.  And no one more than the other, oddly enough.  They each had a vulnerability and a strength I could sympathize with and respect.  No moony-eyed, love-struck or dopey teenagers here.
It seemed right to leave Gansey for last, so Blue moved on to Ronan, though she was a little afraid of him. Something about him dripped venom, even though he hadn't spoken.  Worst of all, in Blue's opinion, was that there was something about his antagonism that made her want to court his favor, to earn his approval.  The approval of someone like him, who clearly cared for no one, seemed like it would be worth more.
And although the adults were largely very odd psychics, they were equally impressive in their solidity.  As characters they were given as much thought as the teens, which, sadly, is incredibly unusual in YA.

My biggest and most glowing recommendation for The Raven Boys, is that although it's part one of a trilogy, it was a strong book on it's own, with a complex but well rounded out plot that didn't feel it was only the tip of an iceberg.  No insane cliff hangers, no half finished story line that made you feel as if you were just reading the prologue to something bigger, even though it is obviously the start of a larger adventure.  Her final line, which came from Ronan (who is quite possibly my favourite), was both fantastically exciting, ambiguous and enough of a tease to start me hedging for book two (as if I'm not always hedging for a new Maggie Stiefvater book).

So when Maggie tells you she's written a book with magic, fast cars, guns and helicopters, don't waste your time wondering what that could mean, just make sure you name is on the list to get a copy on release day.  Then you can smile, and walk away, content in the knowledge that you're in for another fantastic Maggie Stiefvater adventure, the likes of which only she can write.

The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic, September 18th, 2012
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy The Raven Boys on Amazon


  1. Excellent review! I love Maggie's descriptive writing, too-- it is so good in her Books of Faerie and in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, too. Can't wait to read this one, and glad you enjoyed it. :)

    Kat @ A Myriad of Books

    1. Yay! Can't wait to hear what you think! It's really awesome. Have you read Scorpio Races? It's also delicious.

  2. I have been meaning to read books by Maggie Stiefvater and I will! And I think this may have to be the first I read.

    Great review. :D

  3. This book was one of the best books I've read in a long while. There are no words to explain how amazing it was.
    Although I am really excited to know what Ronan meant exactly at the end.