The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater is a goddess.
Seriously. I love everything I’ve read by her.
The Raven Boys begins when Blue, the teenage daughter of a family of psychics, sees the spirit of rich boy Gansey on Spirit Road. This means either a) she’ll kill him or b) he’s her true love. Given that Blue is destined to kill her true love by kissing him, I’m inclined to think it’s probably be both. Tragic! The book also follows dearest Dick Gansey III in his quest to follow the supernatural ley lines in Henrietta, Virginia to locate the tomb of a long-dead Welsh king. What follows is a fast-paced and suspenseful adventure complete with reluctant romance, an irresistibly eclectic group of heroes, and a mysterious murder that’s more connected than anyone dares to think…
These kids are the BOMB. Man, there wasn’t a single character that I didn’t fall in love with–well, save for the one who turned out to be evil because, you know, evil–but Blue and her boys really steal the show. Sweet and silent Noah, intense and brooding Ronan, strong but broken Adam, lost but determined Gansey–the Raven Boys are an intriguing bunch, a mix of very different personalities that work to complement each other in unexpected ways. Then there’s Blue–with her crazy style and IDGAF attitude, it’s impossible not love her! And when you throw her in with the Raven Boys? Magic. Actual magic.
The book also does a good job of fleshing out its characters. Gansey, for instance, is at first glance your typical careless rich boy who knows he’s got money but doesn’t understand what that means. As the novel progresses you see that he’s shy and insecure about what his money makes him and his ley line quest is driven not so much by the legend’s promise but by his need to do something remarkable, to prove he’s better that what he was born with. I can connect with that. Blue starts out as just a quirky outcast who as the only non-psychic doesn’t even belong in her own powerful family. She’s judgemental and quick to write off the Raven Boys as rich brats but she grows upon meeting them and her own attitude changes, her own insecurities coming to the surface. Ronan and Adam are also given complex histories, motives, emotions. It’s like the IMAX 3D version of a person.
Stiefvater also turns one of the boys’ teachers, Barrington Whelk, into a bit of a major character, dedicating certain chapters to his POV. It’s an interesting addition, adding an adult voice to a YA novel; you get to watch the teenage supernatural sleuths unravel Henrietta’s secrets and see the repercussions from his perspective. We also get a lot of interaction between Blue and her psychic family which not only serves to aid in the whole ley line investigation but also adds some more kick-ass, ridiculously fun voices to the novel.
Going back to the whole POV thing, The Raven Boys switches between Blue, Gansey, Adam, and Whelk which I thought would bug me but was less irritating than usual (it’s a personal pet peeve). Even when the chapters switch, since the characters are so interwoven with each other you’re always watching the same story progress, just coloured by different opinions.
One would expect, given the whole true-love/murder thing that Gansey would be the love interest. Psyche! In The Raven Boys we have…*drumroll*…Adam! Blue and Adam give us the brunt of the romance in this novel though I will say nothing is fully-formed. There are also traces of something brewing between Blue and Gansey (inevitably) which I can already tell will be explored further in the following books. There’s no super intense insta-love or even sexy banter but it’s sweet and slow and small. A beginning, rather than a full love story already told. If you’re looking for deep-seated all-consuming romance or love, you might be disappointed with the series debut but I am content with what I was given–and am even more excited to see what happens with them in the next three.
I’m a mythology/fairytale girl through and through but one society whose I’ve not yet explored is Wales. Stiefvater draws a lot on Welsh lore, woven into the fabric of her Virginian world. Like I said–I know nothing about Welsh mythology; Steifvater writes it so simultaneously subtly and significantly that I’m enthralled. The next spontaneous procrastination session I have via obscure folklore is undoubtedly going to focus on Welsh!
The Raven Boys is a very, very good beginning. But that’s exactly what it feels like–a beginning. There is conclusion in the sense that the book is over but not so much as being a single entity. Stiefvater has skillfully written a story that is strong on its own but visibly stronger when thought of as a single portion, one quarter of the whole. Because of this, when feels slow or borderline dull, stick with it. The beginning of a book is rarely the highlight–you need to keep reading for the excitement to kick in.
With that said, I am off to take my own advice and get the next one. Later, bookworms!
Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!