Release date: September 18, 2012
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“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.
The Raven Boys is the first book in Maggie Stiefvater’s paranormal series, The Raven Cycle. I’ve previously read the Shiver trilogy, which I really liked, and I think The Raven Boys, as a first book, was just as good, if not better. It was creepy and atmospheric, with lots of interesting and unique characters.
The Raven Boys, for me, was very much a character-driven book. It has a whole cast of very intriguing characters that draw you in and make you want to know more. Our main protagonist, Blue, comes from a family of psychics but she’s the only one who doesn’t have psychic abilities. Instead, she’s almost like a battery that enhances the spiritual energy around her and makes it louder. She becomes involved with a group of Raven boys from a nearby private high school, who are involved in a search for magical ley lines and a lost Welsh King.
The leader of the Raven boys is a boy called Gansey, who I found to be the most interesting of all the characters. He’s a very genuine character who everybody else seems to see as a little pretentious. But he’s definitely not your typical rich and perfect male protagonist. His character is complex and misunderstood and I loved him so much because of it. Adam is the scholarship student from an abusive family. He doesn’t quite fit in with the others and is always aware of his poor background. I really liked his character from the start but he started to get on my nerves as I progressed through the book. He became very resentful of others for what they had and his jealous nature started to come through, which annoyed me a lot. There’s also a weird love triangle involving Adam, and I really did not like it… We also have Ronan, who’s hiding some secrets and is a little bit rough around the edges, and Noah, the mysterious and quiet friend who comes and goes and isn’t always around.
There are a whole host of other characters, including all the psychics that Blue lives with. I found some of the side characters to be very creepy and I was suspicious of them all the time. They gave me this uncomfortable feeling that I couldn’t shake and some of their actions left me feeling pretty creeped out. The mysterious and magical tone of the book also added to the slight creepiness of the book. It was so atmospheric and dark that it did make me feel uncomfortable a lot of the time. I didn’t find the world and the setting to be particularly scary but the writing and the atmosphere of the story left me a little bit anxious. There are also ghosts in this book, and I have pretty low tolerance for ghosts.
While I really liked the plot, there wasn’t very much going on in this book. It’s very slow-paced at the beginning and the action doesn’t pick up until the second half of the book. I found the magic and the ley lines to be very hard to follow at the beginning and I felt confused until later in the book. We’re not given very many explanations, so I had to just accept what was happening and go with the flow. The last 50-100 pages of the book were more fast-paced and there was a lot more happening. However, by the time I reached the end of the book, I still didn’t feel like I completely understood what had happened. Some characters made choices and did things that I didn’t understand (and I didn’t know what the consequences of those action would be either). I just still felt confused after finishing the book, but I can forgive that since it’s the first book in a series.
The writing was beautiful and I didn’t find it hard to get into. I think having read Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy, I was already familiar with her unique writing style so I didn’t need a lot of time to adjust. At the beginning, the writing also reminded me of the writing in A Little Life. It was very descriptive with little dialogue, and it really set the tone and atmosphere of the book. I also enjoyed the multiple perspectives that we got and I liked being able to see through each characters’ eyes. Like I mentioned, the pace of the book was a little bit uneven, with it being very slow at the beginning and fast at the end. But even though the book was mostly slow-paced, it wasn’t slow for me to read. I flew through the book really quickly because it was so engaging.
Even though this book left me feeling a little bit unsatisfied because of all the unanswered questions, I still really enjoyed the characters and the story. The confusion that I feel makes me even more excited to jump straight into The Dream Thieves.