Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 408 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC received from the publisher for review
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: book trailer | author website

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)“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.


Maggie Stiefvater is easily one of the most well-known names in YA thanks to her Wolves of Mercy Falls series and The Scorpio Races. That might make it a little surprising to learn this is my first Stiefvater book. Something about a leaky womb in Shiver turned me from that series, The Scorpio Races never interested me, and faeries like in her Books of Faerie series are rarely my thing. To top it all off, some comments the author made during the author/blogger issues in early 2012 left a bad taste in my mouth. Still, The Raven Boys practically called my name and I went for it. I'm kind of glad I did! I see why so many of my friends love her books.

There isn't a YA book I've read in recent memory that was anything like this. Ley lines have been mentioned in scant few YA novels and Owen Glendower in even fewer, if any at all. They're both enthralling subjects and turning the pages to find out more about them. I can't testify to how accurate the details are, but the way Stiefvater spins them in her novel is entertaining enough for me not to care so much about accuracy. Blue, one of the main characters, could have used a little more personality, but the true raven boys were all extraordinarily characterized. Especially Adam!

(Maybe I'm a little biased toward Adam because his character captures the exact same conflict of freedom, how to get it, and how much one is willing to give up in order to get it that the main character in my own manuscript is struggling with. Hush.)

At certain points, The Raven Boys feels overlong, like a good fifty pages or so needed to be cut. The pacing might have something to do with that feeling, though fifty pages or so really do need to be cut. For at least half the book, suspense and the mystery of what the raven boys are up to drive the story, and readers who aren't fully invested in the mystery--readers like me--may not be able to focus on the book for long. There was also a line that made me giggle-snort:

"Calla blew into the room, her eyebrows quite angry at being disturbed (ARC p. 120)."

The prose was fantastic overall and set the mood perfectly with its descriptions, but this was one of its weaker moments. The meaning is clear, but it might not be clear at first read that the eyebrows aren't, in fact, sentient. It tripped me up, that's for sure.

The last line of the book really threw me for a loop. Really? She's going to toss out a line like that and end the book? Augh! That's just evil. Now I have to wait another year to find out more and-- Well, whatever the case and however evil Stiefvater is for that cliffhanger, I enjoyed The Raven Boys. It hasn't made me reconsider my decision not to read her other books, but I'm fairly sure I'll be keeping track of this new series.

3.5 stars!

What am I reading next?: Crown of Embers by Rae Carson