Title: The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy > Paranormal
Synopsis: 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.
Would I recommend? To fans of darker toned stories.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
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Actual Rating: 4.5/5
I had been wanting to read the Raven Boys for a fairly long time, ever since I heard that it was a weird book. I like weird books. I like finding out what’s weird about them, what makes this weirdness work and why they are weird. As a student studying creative writing, I find that I learn the most from strange books, which is why I was immediately drawn to the idea of this series as soon as I heard it was weird.
It is pretty weird. But I loved it.
It takes a little while for you to get into the story, mainly because it’s such a strange concept, because the characters are kind of quirky and different, because you find it so difficult to relate to the story and the characters as a whole. But once you do get into it, it becomes almost impossible for you to put the book down.
One of my favorite books of all time is The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and I have scoured lists and Goodreads pages for a book that is similar. I have read three or four books found on these lists and pages, but I’ve almost always been tremendously disappointed. And then came this. Although the entire plot and world is completely different, the tone is very similar: it’s dark and surreal, kind of twisted and dreary. The characters are likable and unlikable at the same time. Everything’s very nuanced and very complex, and I was completely taken in by Stiefvater’s writing. I found something extremely similar to my favorite novel without even looking for it- what better thing is there?
The concept of this book is very intriguing. I haven’t read too many novels centered around clairvoyance, but the ones I have read are pretty good. I’m not familiar with notions and traditions of clairvoyance, but I always find the tones of the novels set around this feature very strange and dark. I think Stiefvater does a fantastic job of building a fantasy world within the contemporary one surrounding us.
The pacing was really well done. I was never bored by the book (except perhaps in the beginning, like I said, it takes a while for you to get into the full stride of things.) The plot twists were well-placed and I wasn’t expecting them at all. The climax was very well done, and I know that the next book in the series is going to be very different than the first one, but I’m still looking forward to it tremendously.
I think the biggest strength of this novel is the characters. Every single character (and there are quite a few) has a very distinct personality. What impressed me was that sometimes, I would get lost and wonder who was speaking, but I was always able to guess correctly because of the characters’ distinct way of talking. I love it when, after reading a book, I can think “That’s something Gansey would say,” or “That’s something Ronan would say,” when conversing in real life. It brings a different kind of life to the characters.
BUT, there were so many characters that, like I said before, I would often find myself getting lost. I don’t see the importance of having so many characters, but perhaps they’ll play more important roles in future books.
I’ve read Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, and although that trilogy was very meh for me, I was a big fan of her writing. Of course, since I picked this series up right after I had finished that one. I wasn’t disappointed – unless you couldn’t tell.
I can learn a lot from Maggie Stiefvater. I think she’s one of the best writers in the young-adult community right now. Her use of figurative language is poetic, almost lyrical, but she doesn’t overdo it like some other authors I’ve read *cough* Tahereh Mafi *cough.* Her ability to set a tangible atmosphere is wonderful. The whimsical darkness in her writing was a pleasure to read, and I was just devouring everything she wrote without hesitation or question. I would call myself a fan now.