Review: The Raven Boys (Raven Boys #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

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Summary:

“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.

One Sentence Review:

The rare hyped novel that deserves the accolades, this is a wonderful piece of YA fantasy that should appeal beyond the core YA audience

Review:

Okay, I’ll admit it. I put off even buying this for ages, despite the love I’d consistently seen on social media, which crested with the release of the third book Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I put it off for the hype to be sure (I’m always weary of anything with that much hype), but also because I’d heard that author’s other series was in essence, “Twilight with werewolves” which just plain makes me want to run. But finally curiosity got to me and I picked this up when it went on sale.

I’m very glad I did.

First and foremost, I like Blue and her family. They’re genuinely nice people, but they all have this quirkiness to them that doesn’t feel false or cutesy, but just from the reality that they’re legitimately psychic and don’t care whether or not people believe that they are. There’s a cohesion to this family that’s wonderful to see, and you just don’t get that often, at least not in genre YA. I dig it and wish we would see more.

Second, I like the titular Raven Boys. I can tell that Stiefvater took care in crafting them. Gansey feels rich, and perhaps a bit entitled, but his heart is in the right place and his obsession feels balanced, for lack of better word: he wants to solve the mystery, but he’s also not letting it interfere with day-to-day life. It’s a nice change from books where characters literally drop all of the things to go solve something, real world consequences be damned. Adam, Ronan are equally well done. They each feel unique with fully developed personalities. I can see why Blue would enjoy being in their company and why the group is cohesive: they need each other because they balance each other. They aren’t clones of each other.

Third, though this is fantasy, it has a bit of a thriller vibe. Stiefvater does a wonderful job of building up tension with great use of foreshadowing that isn’t all THIS IS A HINT. HINT HINT HINT as sometimes you see in the genre. I was legitimately surprised at some of the twists and didn’t feel cheated in the least by them because in hindsight it kind of brought things into focus as they were. They’re well done.

Finally, no love triangle. Woohoo! While you can see that there’s some set up down the road, the fact that it wasn’t in this book is amazing in and of itself, but even more amazing is that when it does happen, it will work because you legitimately believe that she’d like both of them. Any author who can make me interested in both love interests deserves a cookie.

Oh, and one last addendum: the cover art for this series is fantastic and striking. That’s another area where I’m hard to impress, but I digress.

On the whole, I can’t really think of anything to criticize. I liked the story, I like the characters, I liked the writing. I liked it. This book was wholly worth the hype. I don’t own The Dream Thieves yet, but I’ll get my hands at some point because I finished this and found myself wanting more.

I’m glad I read this book, and I’m glad I wound down the week reading it. I enjoyed it greatly and I think that if you enjoy well crafted fantasy, you should too.

Verdict: Buy It

Available: Now

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