Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review - The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
by Maggie Stiefvater
Date: 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 416
Format: e-book
Source: Amazon

"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.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I am completely exhausted after reading this book.  When you go into a novel and find out fairly quickly that one of the main characters is doomed by a prophecy, it's difficult not to read every scene after that with a certain sense of trepidation.  I anticipated that I would, at some point, be on my knees with the book held aloft, shouting, "Why, Stiefvater?  Why?!"  Okay, not really.  But I felt like that might be a distinct possibility... until the point where I glanced at my Kindle app's progress bar and saw that it was at 99%.  This was a great 416-page lead-in for a sequel, I'll give the author that.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy myself before the story abruptly, unsatisfyingly ended.  The plot and the promise of the plot were interesting and unique.  But what I really enjoyed were the characters, particularly the boys.  The novel switches points of view from chapter to chapter.  We get to see through the eyes of Blue, Gansey, Adam, and Whelk (the boys' Latin teacher), and through them, we also get to know Ronan and Noah and the psychic women in Blue's life.  Unfortunately, I found just about every character more interesting and well developed than Blue.  I'm not sure if that was intentional or not; in the story, she acts as an amplifier for the psychic women's gifts.  For me, she seemed that way in the narrative as well, only serving as a sounding board or a piece of scenery that doesn't do much except support everything around it.  If Blue's point of view had been the only one we'd seen, it would have been very disappointing.  Luckily, we got to experience parts of the story through other eyes as well.  My favourite character was probably Gansey, who was nothing like I expected.  While it could be argued that Ronan and Adam were a bit stereotypical in their roles (alcohol-loving Irish scrapper and downtrodden abused kid, respectively), Gansey was something else altogether.  I appreciated the fact that he was different, and that he tried so hard to find something to believe in.

The only other book I've read by this author was Shiver, so I knew I could count on some fairly solid writing here.  I wasn't disappointed until near the end, when a bunch of what I assume were typos started to creep in (though one never knows if it's just something unique to the Kindle edition).  I was, however, quite confounded by the very last sentence of the book.  It made no sense to me, and I'm not sure if it was supposed to be some really obscure reference to something that's going to happen in the second book, or if my copy is plagued by a syntax-impaired typographical error.

As much as I enjoyed the journey, breathless as I was for most of it, I'm kind of hesitant to read the next book in the series for fear that I'll run into more of the same problems that plagued this story.  I didn't find that much got resolved in the way of the plot.  So many loose ends were left hanging and the foreshadowing went kaput, so that it almost doesn't feel like I finished a book at all; it feels like I merely finished a chapter.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Editing: 3/5
Originality: 5/5
Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.71 out of 5


  1. I'm listening to the audiobook of The Raven Boys but my iPod keeps losing my place. It's very frustrating! One day I will finish it.

  2. I really enjoyed this book even if the plot wasn't as exciting and action-packed as it might have been. Consequently I am dying for The Dream Thieves to pop up in my review schedule-just a few more weeks!