That’s it. That’s the end of the review.
Well, no. But that is literally the only thing I can think of to say in this intro about this treasure of a book that accurately represents my feelings. It is AMAZING, and I would like to take this time to apologize to all the book bloggers out there whose constant flailing about this series fell upon deaf ears for much too long.
TITLE: The Raven Boys
AUTHOR: Maggie Stiefvater
GENRE: Paranormal, fantasy, young adult
PUBLICATION: September 2012 by Scholastic
RATING: ⭑ ⭑ ⭑ ⭑ ⭑
“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.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
Trigger warnings: Suicide (joked about), domestic abuse, murder, kidnapping
The Raven Boys — the first in the Raven Cycle series — follows Blue Sargent, who is well-versed in the art of accepting the extraordinary as ordinary. Born into a clairvoyant family but possessing no psychic powers herself, she’s astonished when she is able to see a spirit walking down the road for the soon-to-be dead. The spirit belongs to Gansey, a student at the elite Aglionby Academy who’s obsessed with finding an ancient Welsh king. Gansey has hit a dead end in his quest to find and awaken Glendower, but Blue might just be the missing puzzle piece. But something sinister is afoot, and in this world of raven boys, ley lines, and forbidden magic, nothing is as it seems.
*deep breath* Let’s go over why I love this book, one reason at a time.
First of all, the writing. Oh my goodness, the writing. There’s something so magical and entrancing about the way Maggie Stiefvater arranges her words. Stiefvater’s writing made me feel like a corked bottle bobbing on the sea, going with the flow, barely afloat, but always confident that the waves beneath me would hold me up no matter what. That was deep, metaphorical, and probably no help at all if you’re trying to decide whether to read this book, but it was how I felt the entire time in the world of the raven boys.
Secondly, the storyline. It’s time to be honest: The reason why I stay away from the paranormal genre is because I find it creepy and disturbing and borderline terrifying. It’s why I refuse to go anywhere in the vicinity of werewolves and vampires and whatever else. But Maggie Stiefvater’s definition of paranormal is nothing like I would expect of other YA books of the same genre. Rather than creepy, it came off as whimsical. Rather than being disturbing, it seemed more fascinating. Rather than terrifying, it was fun. I loved it.
Thirdly — and you know I’ve been saving the best for last — the characters. They are perfect. Absolute perfection. I love them all so much.
⭐️ Blue — I loved Blue’s character. Rather than being psychic like the rest of her family, she’s a human amplifier in that she makes magic stronger and louder. And she’s been told from a young age that she would kill her true love with a kiss. She’s eccentric and has questionable fashion choices, but at the same time, she’s sensible and logical. (Her response to the prophecy about killing her true love is much less angstier than you would expect.) And I loved that about her. But most of all, I loved her dynamic with the raven boys and her family. I’m looking forward to reading about how the prophecy plays out in the next books.
⭐️ Gansey — Or rather, Richard Gansey III. This guy is just so precious. I don’t know any other way to describe him. He wears boat shoes, drives an ancient orange Camaro, and has more money that any teenager should be allowed to have, but he’s precious. SO PRECIOUS. He’s fiercely loyal to his friends, even when they don’t seem to appreciate him. He’s constantly working to define himself by something other than his wealth. His quest to wake Glendower is born of a combination of his insecurities and the desire to make a bigger mark on the world. In a word, he’s — say it with me — precious.
⭐️ Adam — Omg, Adam. This boy must be protected at all costs and I would gladly do just about anything if it guarantees Adam’s safety and happiness. Adam is a scholarship student at Aglionby, and he has a horrific home life (seriously, his father does not deserve to be called human). The one thing he wants more than anything is to be his own person — to make it out of the throes of poverty and abuse on his own. This leads to frequent fights between him and Gansey, who just can’t understand why Adam would put himself in danger for his pride. The way he treated Gansey got me pretty frustrated throughout the book, but at the same time, I got it?? Adam just… *tears up* deserves better. So precious.
⭐️ Ronan — Oh, Ronan. Ronan is made of sharp edges. He’s incapable of saying something without sounding either bitter or sarcastic, but he hides a softer and more vulnerable side underneath all the vitriol. Him standing up for Adam was just so sweet and wonderful. I’m really excited to see how his character progresses in the next book, especially with the revelation right at the end of this one.
⭐️ Noah — Noah’s characterization was pretty nonexistent for the first half of the book, but I quickly learned to love him by the end. His relationship with Blue was so cute (he PETS her hair. Tell me that isn’t adorable.) He’s the definition of soft and quiet and sweet, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with him in the next book.
The romance is very slow-burn in this book, but I’m like 98% certain that Blue is going to end up with the boy she least expects to fall in love with. There’s no way that one ship is not going to sail especially after that vision in the tree. The final confrontation is also pretty intense, and it left me a bit confused, but in the best way. (Turns out Shmoop and I have very different interpretations of what happened in that forest.)
The one thing I wasn’t such a fan of in this book was the overwhelming whiteness of the main characters. All the characters are either white or racially ambiguous, and that just got on my nerves while I was reading. Hopefully the rest of the series improves on that?
But all in all, I recommend this book to… pretty much everyone. The combination of Maggie Stiefvater’s lyrical writing, the fascinating story, and the fantastic characters is something everybody needs to experience. I can’t wait to read The Dream Thieves. I have half a mind to scrap my scheduled TBR and just binge the rest of this series.
Abby the Christian Bookworm
The raven boys’ dynamic is amazing, but it has its rough spots as well. I get the feeling that the misunderstandings between Gansey, Adam, and Ronan would resolve themselves if the boys tried to understand each other better. The Message Bible defines kindness as a sense of compassion in the heart (Galatians 5:22-23 MSG), and no, Adam, it’s not pity. Compassion is one of God’s defining traits, hand in hand with graciousness, being slow to anger, love, and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15 NIV). With the assistance of the Holy Spirit, we should all strive to emulate these traits in our relationships with others.
This review is over 1,000 words, but I have no regrets. Thanks for bearing with me if you stuck around to the end. Now, your turn! Have you read The Raven Boys? Who’s your favorite from the Gangsey (if you can bear to choose a favorite)? How many times did I use the word precious today? Chat with me in the comments!