February 27, 2017

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, 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 is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher 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 doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked this up. I have been hearing about Maggie Stiefvater for years now (with that unforgettable name) and somehow thought of her books as vaguely Twilight-esque. So it was with pleasure that I discovered after a few pages in the caliber of Stiefvater’s writing. Her imagery is exactly what I needed when I set out for a reading escape. And having looked up her background and discovered her to be an artist, her painterly eye made sense. She has a strong and individual style that seduces the reader.

“April days in Henrietta were quite often fair, tender things, coaxing sleeping trees to bud and love-mad ladybugs to beat against windowpanes. But not tonight. It felt like winter.”

The writing enchants- but what about story? The framework of teens from opposite sides of the track is not new but – a group of boys from an affluent boys’ boarding school and the daughter in family of psychic women makes for a something intriguing. Lead me on, pied piper, tell me more. This is a quest book, about ley lines and a sleeping king, unexpectedly Celtic in its heart, wrapped in a young adult bow.

Stiefvater peopled her narrative with complex characters of depth. And it is these characters of Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah, as well as the fantastic “coven” of Maura, Calla, and Persephone that clinched it for me. Not only did I love hanging out with all of them, I want to know everything that happens to them stat. Before I even finished reading this one, I already downloaded the next.

Bonus: The Raven Boys has a quote after my own heart:

“Really, she didn’t know if she’d truly like to find out more about the pygmy tyrant. She just liked the name, because, for a five-foot-tall girl, pygmy tyrant sounded like a career.”    

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