by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle; book I
I usually write an informal review on Goodreads immediately after finishing a book before trying to write a more sophisticated review on my blog, but eh... sometimes I just feel that I should post whatever I want on my blog. And I'm slightly lazy ;)
“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.
My Expectations: Quite high, I've been reading fantastic reviews from some of my favourite blogs, and I really adore that cover...
Delivery: pretty good!
Okay. Here it goes.
I adored The Scorpio Races much more than I expected to, so The Raven Boys was riding on some high expectations. In addition, many of my favourite bloggers absolutely RAVED about the book... so...
I really liked it. I loved some parts of it, truly, truly loved some other, and yet I thought a few other parts were really just satisfactory.
But let's start with the pros: the boys. Stiefvater has this extraordinary ability to characterize the people in her novel, and that stand out against so brightly and I loved it. I love the uniqueness of each boy; the old yet young Gansey, the wild card Ronan, the scholarship kid trying to make it Adam, and the questionable Noah. I loved the closeness of their friendship, but I also loved the dynamics and the unexpectedness that comes along with it. The writing just described each of the beautifully, and I can't get enough of it.
And that also meant that the boys often overshadowed Blue, our "main-ish" protagonist. Blue's smart, capable, and sensible, yet not as compelling. I liked her and definitely respected her (yay for smart protagonists!), but I didn't love her. I liked what she stood for and the mystery around her 'first kiss' and her connection with Gansey were all interesting, but it wasn't enough for me; I just didn't connect to her character the way I think I was supposed to.
And that brings me to the last, and largest point in this review: the plot. Please don't kill me... but the thing is, I didn't find it interesting... enough. Seriously, that's my problem with it. Maybe it's my non-love for paranormal or something, but I couldn't really get myself to care about this ley line, the Glendower, the magic... I'm not sure if it's as if it wasn't "epic" enough to warrant 4 books or what, but it just didn't capture me. This point is obviously a very big "it's not you, it's me" type of thing, and I wish it wasn't so, but yeah. I didn't find the plot or the mystery compelling, which meant that I lacked the urgency when reading and it was easy for me to get distracted.
HOWEVER, MAGGIE STIEFVATER, YOUR WRITING IS GORGEOUS. I can't say that enough, I loved the weight behind her words, the softness, the heaviness, the intricacy and the different-ness that she embraced and used so wisely. There are phrases to stop your heart and there are sentences that describe the boys so flipping well that my jaw drops. I love her writing in The Raven Boys.
So yes, ultimately, I'll be recommending this book often because I enjoyed it quite a bit and I thought it was a great book with fabulous characters. The writing is superb, and while the mystery didn't really appeal to me, there is enough going for this novel that I'll definitely be checking out the sequel.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: fans of the author, fans of urban fantasy/supernatural
8.5/10 - because I really adored many aspects but the plot fell short. It's a book that has characters worth your time though, and writing that's a step above the YA average. Do check it out if you have a chance, and read these two reviews to convince yourself it's a must-read :)
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