on 19 September 2012
There's something about a book by Maggie Stiefvater... like dark chocolate, I don't need a lot of it to find myself deeply satisfied. Her writing is really a cut above, and I simply can't blast through one of her books in a day in the same way as I can't eat a whole bar of dark chocolate in one go. I like to put it down, wander off, have a think and then come back later. Every book by Maggie seems to get better and better too, and The Raven Boys is no exception to this rule.
I particularly liked The Raven Boys because this was the first time Maggie has written in the third person, as the narrator, and she is a brilliant one at that. Anyone who has been to one of her signings will know she tells fabulous stories, and this read out like sitting with her in person listening to her tell the story... at times I felt like I could really hear her as she used some of her simply delicious adjectives.
The book centers around Blue, a young girl who lives with an entire family of psychics. She is used to weird stuff happening, and she takes what they say seriously. So when she was told that she would kill her true love when she kisses him, she made a vow not to kiss any boy, just in case. I felt pretty sorry for her about this, because there were several boys distinctly worth kissing in this book! Blue falls in with a friendship group from the nearby private school, Aglionby. She has pretty much hated the Aglionby boys her whole life, but Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah are a little bit different than the usual suspects who wear the school raven covered crest. These particular raven boys are treasure hunters, who seek a mystical line of power which supposedly runs through her town.
Blue is able to help them on their quest using a special power of her own, and she finds it exciting to spend time with the boys. She is drawn to them because she can see the real people when the Aglionby masks slip. In their quest to uncover the ley line they discover some weird stuff and it all gets a little spooky! I particularly loved the inclusion of all the ravens... they are great birds, and Ronan's pet raven was too cute.
As far as the raven boys go, I thought they were interesting and slightly mysterious characters. Gansey is the lynch pin of the group and they all orbit around him; he is the obsessive ley line hunter, and the others are along for the ride. Speaking of rides, his orange Camaro was something that made me smile a lot. I know Maggie has one, and I pictured hers... her love for it certainly came across loud & clear! Ronan is a boy with serious issues, and there isn't a lot to like about him... yet. I think he will come into his own in the future; he is the sort of boy that you might instantly dismiss as a tool, but there are chinks in his armour, and he may yet turn out to be my favorite. Adam has a complete inability to accept how awful his home life is, and he won't let his friends help him due to an inferiority complex which at times was a little irritating. That said, he is a total sweetheart. Noah... well, he was kind of a lurker, but a nice one.
I really did enjoy this, and I thought there was a fabulous moment where they all discover a real humdinger of a plot twist. I didn't give this five stars because I didn't laugh or cry, and there was no kissing to suck me in... Blue didn't feel like risking any lives this time. But as The Raven Boys is written as part of The Raven Cycle series, I feel sure there will be some point when I do all of those things and I give a five star rating out. I loved this and I can't wait for the next instalment in the adventure!
I want to say The Raven Boys is a puzzle, but that's not quite right. It's more...like a tapestry. It doesn't make sense at first - just a loosely-connected collection of glittering vignettes. You go along with it because by now, you trust her. Maggie. You know it'll be worth it. You know she'll take care of you. You keep reading. And again, she tells you she's telling you a story about one thing, but in fact the story she tells is much bigger - a story about EVERYTHING. A story that needs an omniscient third person narrative - different to Maggie's previous books.
If you want to know what the book's about, you can read the synopsis: ever since Blue was a kid, she's been told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. On St Mark's Eve, as the soon-to-be-dead walk the corpse road, when she's not meant to be able to see anyone, Blue sees Gansey - either because he is her true love, or she will kill him. But the synopsis won't tell you what the book is ABOUT. I can tell you it's about Blue, the only non-psychic in a family full of psychics, or about Gansey, scholarly, distracted, rich, and obsessed with finding the vanished king Glendower. But that doesn't tell you the half of it. That tells you nothing about Adam, carving his way out of a dead-end of a life, or surly and unpleasant Ronan, or shadowy and quiet Noah. It tells you nothing about the bond between these four friends, and their attachment and loyalty to Gansey, or his to them. It tells you nothing about the intricacy of magic and legends woven into the fabric of the story, or the painful immediacy of lives without magic. And it tells you nothing of the artistry with which Maggie's storytelling is executed. Even when you think you know what's coming, you *don't*. Jaw-dropping happened.
Oh Maggie, even though I'm getting the feeling you're about to break my heart, you still make me titter out loud in the middle of the night.
At 3 am, I put the book down, only chapters from the end. You see by then I *knew* Maggie would break my heart, and so I wanted her to do it slowly and while I was fully awake to appreciate it. I wanted to watch the trailer another time or twelve. I stuck on 1.02 at the trailer and felt like that image summed up everything important about The Raven Boys.
I love love LOVE the earnestness of the friendship: the complexity and contrasts of the Aglionby boys, the way that parts of them seem to mismatch but somehow that becomes a symbiotic whole. I like Blue, who is both like Puck and not like Puck, like Isabel and not like Isabel: she's not as desperate and vulnerable as Puck, and she's not as damaged and driven as Isabel. She's a puzzle to herself, and she's tough and smart and not generic (which she's be pleased about, since she works so hard at eccentricity, to the point of artform and coolness).
Also, I love the...togetherness of Blue's family. Maggie's definitely not a preacher - if you've read any of her books, you know they're not full of exemplary parents/adults. But Blue's family leaves you with a warm sense of exactly what family ought to be: trust and love, care and service. And I love the way there is a drawing together of older and younger generations, an intertwining story that rejects the 'adults are useless' and 'only kids can save the world' tropes. Everyone needs everyone - perhaps I'm feeling it more because of my time of life, being caught somewhere between fully adult and sympathy for one's younger selves. We need it to be true, for there to be a middle ground where mother and daughter exist equally and wholly in each other's worlds.
And then I finished.
So sad. In that kind of aching, sharp-edged, dry-eyed way that Maggie is so good at inducing. But also, it ended on a good note, without that awful sense of incompletion. Maggie is good to her readers, not all self-indulgent at her book's expense - she's a reader, she understands. She wraps up with a kind of surgical precision: neither overdone and written into a corner, nor a frustrating confusion of loose ends. She knows we have to wait for a year(/three) for the next one(/three), and I can do so now with some equanimity.
I love this book without reserve. I want to talk about so much more (especially how fascinated I am by Gansey and his layers), but then this review will be endlessly long and impossible to read. Of course it's not perfect, but I think it comes pretty damn close. I stopped so many times - my book is bristling with post-its - to go back over a sentence, a few words, reading and rereading, to savour the way they were put together, appreciating the deliberation with which every word was chosen and arranged. But the best compliment you can really give Maggie about her book is this: when you've turned the last page, and breathed out your final sigh...you flip back to the beginning and start again.
on 10 February 2013
What can I really say about The Raven Boys? For the most part I actually hated it. Now I know that is a strong word but I did. I found it boring and slow and I wanted to kill the characters. But something kept me reading. I actually couldn't put the book down. And I have no idea why.
The Raven Boys is by Maggie Stiefvator and if you know me, you know I have a love/hate relationship with her books. I loved first 2 books in her Wolves of Mercy Falls series but hated Forever and I hated The Scorpio Races, so I was wary of this title. It started out fantastic. I hooked with the first chapter. I found it intriguing and different but I have no clue what happened. After the initial first few chapter the story was just going nowhere and I just found it mind numbingly boring. It had the potential to be truly amazing but instead I found it confusing and I skimmed a lot because there are scenes that are completely pointless. There was too many different stories going in within one book that it gave me a headache. The characters....argh drove me insane. To me they had no depth at all. Expect maybe Adam he is actually really likeable.
However!!!! At around 2/3 of the way through the story picks up and the story really comes together and started to get exciting. There are a few twists that I did not see coming and I loved that. I like a good surprise in stories. The characters still bugged me but not as much. I found myself completely transfixed on the story and how it would play out. And the ending, pretty damn awesome. And the last 50 or so pages saved this book for me. I am now really looking forward to the next book so see how the story goes and to see if the characters can make me like them. I doubt it but the story itself is intriguing enough that I will continue with the the series.
on 13 June 2015
I haven’t read any Maggie Stiefvater before. It’s wonderful when you discover a new author.
Why I enjoyed The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle#1):
1. Great Characters
2. Interesting premise – Blue’s kisses will kill off her true love.
3. Clairvoyants, spirits, magic, ley lines.
4 A Quest to find Owen Glendower, The Raven King.
5. Maggie Stiefvater uses foreshadowing very successfully, particularly with regard to Noah.
6. There’s a well kept journal that wants! Loved the idea of this! With its very own shape doodle.
Tip: I did find Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style took a while to get into, but when I did I really enjoyed The Raven Boys. This is a series, there is Book two to look forward to in this quartet: The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2.)
The Raven Boys is set in Henrietta, Virginia, a “town known for its ravens.” 94
Blue Sargent has been warned off kissing her true love as one single kiss will seal his fate, and believe you me his fate ain’t nice, one kiss and then he’s a goner. No more kissing, no more breathing, just dead. Quite a powerful premise, a mighty hook, but does the novel take you down this kissing, route to death path? Read and find out!
Blue joins in the church watch, on St Mark’s eve, April 24th, with Neeve, her half aunt who happens to be a famous TV psychic. Blue normally goes with her mother but this time she finds herself having a bit of a weird moment, on this particular St Mark’s eve she sees the spirit of a young man:
“He was so real. When it finally happened, when she finally saw him, it didn’t feel like magic at all. It felt like looking into the grave and seeing it look back at her.” 15
There are a wonderful array of interesting characters to engage with in this novel. This is partly because Blue doesn’t live in your typical household, Blue lives in 300 Fox Way, a clairvoyant household with her mum Maura and her psychic aunts, Calla and Persephone.
There are several Raven boys to take a pick from! I know I have my favourites, I’m sure you will too!
There’s Gansey (Blue initially calls him President Cell Phone).
“Gansey was the boy she either killed or fell in love with. Or both.”
The Raven Boys aren’t quite your usual boy next door type: “There was something odd and complicated about all of these boys, Blue thought – odd and complicated in the way that the journal was odd and complicated.”
Then there’s Adam, who isn’t a rich kid like the others:
“Success meant nothing to Adam if he hadn’t done it for himself.” 132.
Adam has a difficult home life, and he’s trying to rise above his problems but there’s always this chip on his shoulder which he can’t quite shake off. Adam’s home life is certainly no cake walk, I really felt sorry for him.
As well as Gansey and Adam there are two brothers Declan and Ronan Lynch, who have been “at odds for as long as Adam had known them.”
Gansey prefers the company of Ronan and I have to agree I prefer Ronan too!
“Adam suspected Gansey’s preference was because Ronan was earnest even if he was horrible, and with Gansey, honesty was golden.”
There is a villainous side to Ronan but he’s not your stereotypical villian with just one side to his character. He also has a kind, unexpected side, which is demonstrated by his care and attention to a tiny foundling raven :
“You look like a super villain with your familiar,” Adam said. Ronan’s smile cut his face, but he looked kinder than Blue had ever seen him, like the raven in his hand was his heart, finally laid bare.”
More about the mighty raven:
“The raven was Glendowers bird.”
“Legend had it that Glendower could speak to ravens, and vice versa.”
Then there’s Noah who’s the less detailed out of all the Raven Boys, he’s a bit grey round the edges, but there’s a good reason for that.
My favourites out of the boys are Adam, Ronan, and Gansey. I reckon Ronan is going to get very interesting in book 2 – my intuition is telling me! Okay, maybe intuition with a bit of help, the last line of the novel kind of hints that this is the way the series develops.
On top of clairvoyancy, readings, spirits, there’s a four year quest, to find Owen Glendower, The Raven King. But the Raven Boys are not the only ones searching for Glendower, a young man comes for a reading with Blue’s psychic mother, Maura, Calla and Persephone.
As well as all the wacky aunts, we have a very special journal:
“More than anything, the journal wanted.” 84
The Journal is about ley lines and all manner of other details – “invisible energy lines that connected spiritual places ” Glendower, sleeping knights, “sacrificed kings, ancient water goddesses and all of the old things that ravens represented.
The adventure starts to step up a notch when Helen, Gansey’s sister, a helicopter pilot takes them exploring. Blue goes along and directs them to the church on the ley line. They fly over a shape in the overgrown grass that resembles a raven.
Gansey: “If they removed Glendower from the corpse road, I think the magic that keeps him asleep would be disrupted.”215 She said, ‘Basically, you mean he would die for good if he was removed from the line.”
All manner of incredible things happen, but not to spoil it for you by saying too much.
Would I recommend reading the Raven Boys? Absolutely. Highly recommended for readers of Fantasy, Paranormal, YA, Romance, Supernatural, Mystery.
My rating: 4.5 stars
This is a teen story with a very intriguing strapline - if the main character, Blue, kisses her true love, he will die. Well that theme runs through the book as Blue gets involved with an odd quartet of boys from the near-by private boys' school and suspects that one of them might be her true love - she's drawn to one of them but has seen another in a 'night of the dead' vision she shared with her aunt. Blue lives in a house full of psychic women but isn't particularly psychic herself - her power is to enhance the psychic abilities of those around her - she's a sort of psychic amplifier. The boys are looking for Glendower the legendary Welsh King - their version of the English King Arthur - along a ley-line that runs near the small American town where they live. One of the boys is particularly obsessed with finding Glendower who (for some reason) travelled to America to be buried on this ley-line. I think this is intended to be the first of a series as it ends in a rather muddly way with some shocks and a lot left unresolved. I found the whole book rather muddly and the combination of small town America and British mythology with some genuinely talented psychics, absurdly rich school-boys and women with daft names (Blue for example) thrown in rather an uncomfortable one - the author hasn't managed to blend the mundane and the supernatural as seamlessly as I've read in other fantasy books. There is a lot of emphasis on things that I didn't understand to do with the American rich class and accents and places meaning certain things about characters - that didn't help.
Anyway, if you enjoy mystery/fantasy/real life/mythological kings type books, you'll probably get on fine with this and I would be interested to see if I'm right and the author does intend to continue and resolve the issues left unresolved at the end of this book.
on 17 September 2014
I am a fan of Maggie Stiefvater and when Amazon recommended this book, I had to give it a go. It was so different to anything else, I have read before, I very quickly became engrossed.
Loved the whole, witches, graveyard scenarios. I will definitely look out for the next one .
I would recommend to YA readers.
on 9 October 2014
What first drew my attention to this book was the synopsis: it seemed so very interesting. And of course the cover: I was expecting four really hot guys, so I got four really hot guys.
This book has made it into my favourites.
The twists were endless, which, inevitably, made me not want to put down the book. And that was another thing -- the story seemed never-ending. Not in a 'this is dragging my brains out' kind of way, either, because I didn't want it to end. It was just so utterly unique and unlike anything I have ever read before. The plot kept me on my toes throughout. The sideplots became a major part to the storyline. The characters were all believable, each with their own personalities (I have read books where, even when it shifts POV, the personality of the main character does not change at all, and it is as if the story is being told from only one POV), each with their own problems and fears and obstacles and goal and aspires and allergies, the kinds of thing that make characters real and believable.
I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book.
Blue has been told all of her life that when she kisses her true love, he will die. In a family full of psychics, she is the only one who isn't. But Blue has a different gift: she amplifies her relatives' power, so she is often asked to be present during a reading or to accompany them to places where psychic energy is strong. Imagine Blue's surprise, therefore, when one day she sees the spirit of a boy on the corpse road. Is this her true love, and has she killed him? When she meets the boy in question in real life, she is less than impressed, especially as his friend is much more appealing. But almost against her will she is drawn into this circle of friends from the posh local college, and events are set in motion that will leave everyone changed for ever ...
This was a pleasant surprise: a deliciously dark, engaging, unexpectedly funny and mature YA novel about magic, ley lines, and the Welsh legend about Owen Glendower (yes, really, but stick with it), and in my opinion a million miles away from the drippiness of the Twilight novels. There's a lot teenagers can identify with, and apart from the excitement and the sense of adventure that's experienced when the speed of the plot developments accelerates, the author also has some valid comments to make about the nature of friendship and loyalty, free will and destiny. It took a little time to warm to the raven boys, but I really care about what happens to them, Blue and her family next, and there are plenty of threads and mysteries that promise much for the next volume in the quartet, The Dream Thives; this is already lined up, I'm happy to say.
on 20 October 2013
I bought this book because it was in Amazon's Daily Deal for 99p and I liked the birdie on the cover. I went in blind, no clue what The Raven Boys was about or what sort of writer I was dealing with. I like to call this literary Russian roulette. I could win or lose, revere it or despise it, become filled with book glory or die of a thousand papercuts to the brain. I loaded my Kindle, pulled the trigger and was pleased to find my brains did not splatter up my living room wall.
The book had a wonderful, slow build up. Which is a good thing. Yes, I said GOOD THING. I know people sometimes complain when a plot isn't instantly filled with smoochy, smoochy "Oh dear I'm helplessly in love with two boys, and I feel so angst-ridden because I'm a teenager and must therefore do stupid angst-ridden things the author thinks a teenager must do". Notice at this point I have used a very important word: plot. This book actually has one. Truly. I'm not joking. Psychics, ley lines, a dead Welsh king and a complex friendship web. No smoochy smoochy, despite the novel's tag line. Plotty plotty instead. An actual story. This book is the first part of a series, and from this first volume, I'm expecting something big. The scene has been set.
The Raven Boys themselves are an intriguing bunch, each with their own complicated background, motivation and mystery. Each character is light and dark, flawless and flawed. Each one needs a hug and a firm slap. In other words, they are perfectly human and perfectly believable.
Now, this is the middle bit of the review where I put in my shark dentures and take a bite. Early in the book I found some of the phrasing and word choices to be a little odd. It made me question if I'd read the offending lines properly, if I was a Brit having a dialect issue or if the line just needed the editor to pay more attention. Head-scratching and dandruff occurred. I also thought the very end was rushed. For such a beautifully and carefully constructed build-up, it was strange. More dandruff.
Right, shark teeth out, a little piece of the author's soul swallowed and back to why I've given this book five stars: It was original. It wasn't dark and depressing. It made my heart beat faster. It made me simultaneously dread and yearn for the next book.
Because I loved every character, because I cried for one of them, and because I know I'll cry again.
I will only give top marks to a book that leaves a dent. It has to make me smile when I talk about it. It has to make me picture what happened before, what happened between the lines and what will happen next. It has to make me recommend it to random people in Tesco. This book did all of that and left a raven shaped indentation on my heart.
on 28 September 2013
See my review of this book, and many more, at TalesfromtheGreatEastRoad.wordpress.com
On a cold winter night, Blue stands with her mother and watches as the ghosts of the soon-to-be dead cross the graveyard. Not that she expects to see anything - unlike her mother, Blue is not a clairvoyant. But this year she sees a boy, which can only mean two things: "Either you're his true love . . . or you killed him."
His name is Gansey, and he and his friends have already gained a reputation in Aglionby, their private school. Known as The Raven Boys, Blue is sure they are nothing but trouble. Obsessed with finding the burial ground of the Welsh King Glendower, Gansey is following lay lines that could lead to his fortune and convinces Blue to help. As the daughter of a family of psychics, who is Blue to think him crazy? Despite herself Blue is drawn to the Raven Boys, even though she knows it can't end well: all her life she has been told she will cause her true love to die.
Despite the synopsis, The Raven Boys is not the story of a romance between Blue and Gansey. Though romance is featured in this book, this arc seems to be for the whole series rather than just this story. What The Raven Boys actually is is so much bigger and better: this is no typical YA paranormal romance. It's been called a cross between Edgar Allan Poe and The Dead Poet's Society, and is in fact a tale of magic and quests, and the bonds of friendship between a group of young men. The Raven Boys themselves and their relationship plays a major role, and each of the boys work so great together, as well as standing on their own. Though each is noteworthy in their own right - Gansey with his passion for the supernatural, Ronan who hides behind his anger, and Noah who is more than meets the eye - the best character has to be Adam. The boy from a poor family who gained a scholarship to an expensive private school, Adam struggles with both feeling that he is not good enough and resentment towards his other friends who never have to worry about money. The flashback scene where he can't afford to buy food is just heart-wrenching. Blue is also an awesome character, the only non-seer in a family of clairvoyants, she doesn't let this bring her down and doesn't hold this against her family. Her relationship with her mother was encouragingly positive, and her caution and tentative friendship with the boys is a refreshing change in YA books - she is so much more interesting than the stereotypical `too-stupid-to-live' heroine, and her budding romance with Adam was charming. It's just a disappointment that this romance can't fully develop, as the synopsis clearly states that the romance will be between Blue and Gansey.
The magic featured in this book was just brilliant. A great mix of ghosts, psychics, tarot cards, lay lines, and more (there really is a bit of everything). The Welsh folktale this is loosely based on (Doomed to Die on St. Marks Eve) and the use of King Glendower is very original, a nice change from the over abundance of Greek and European folklore used in fantasy today. As a huge fan of magic, I found the ideas used to be fascinating and endlessly entertaining, and I can't wait to see where it goes next. The writing itself was also beautiful, especially one description of an abandoned car in the middle of a woods, and it speaks to Maggie Stiefvater's skill that she can make something so beautiful out of a simple image.
This was a truly great book, and I cannot to read the sequel.