Review: The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date ~ September 18, 2012
Scholastic Press
ISBN13: 9780545424929
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada

Goodreads Synopsis:
“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.

There are some books I manage to put off for a while, despite their popularity and good reviews. The Raven Boys is one of those, and now having finally read it I can't help but kick myself for waiting so long.

Paranormal fantasy books aren't my favourite, but the first book in Maggie Stiefvater's current series easily drew me in and hooked me with its quirky yet amusing characters, mysterious plot, and Maggie's beautiful style of writing.

  1. An incredible group of characters:

    The characters are all very eccentric and quirky (and they really don't seem THAT realistic, or perhaps I should say "typical" for teenagers) and I find that can be fairly hit or miss for a book. I don't mind different, but I need interesting, strong characters whom I like to keep me going. The Raven Boys absolutely delivered on this, and I was so impressed with Blue and the Raven Boys she meets and befriends. Gansey's written as a charismatic leader and that's exactly how he comes across while reading. I couldn't help but like him, the more that was revealed about him. Adam's bravery comes across loud and clear as he battles his way through difficulties. Even grumpy, icy Ronan and quiet, strange Noah had me invested in their stories by the end. Most importantly, they felt like characters distinct from each other - although they're close friends, they maintained their own lives and interests.
  2. An intriguing mystery:

    For the longest time, I was reading as fast as I could just to figure out exactly what the big mystery was - what was Gansey searching for? What was going on with Blue's family? What secrets do the Raven Boys have? It's all revealed very slowly, and I loved how much this mystery drew me in to this fantastic story.
  3. Gorgeous writing:

    This is the first book I've read by Maggie Stiefvater and her writing took my breath away! The book's atmosphere is creepy and mysterious, and it's enhanced by her style of writing. It's like being teased with a little bit of information - there are little hints and it's very poetic. Her writing flows beautifully for an enjoyable read.
  4. Heartfelt, sincere relationships:

    This was my favourite aspect of The Raven Boys. I loved how strong these relationships were, from the deep bond of friendship between Gansey, Ronan, Noah, and Adam to the fairly tight-knit household Blue lives in. I was particularly impressed with the mother-daughter relationship between Blue and Maura. This is an intensely loyal group of characters, all displaying that loyalty in their own unique way. 
I was worried that I'd find some parts of this book to feel like it was trying too hard - afraid that it might come off cheesy and silly, because there's that fine line between unique and just plain silly. But thankfully, The Raven Boys didn't cross that line. It was a very unexpected read for me (especially the romance, for example!), and one I can wholeheartedly recommend to other readers. 

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