Monday, February 11, 2013

REVIEW: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

 “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.

OK, I’m just going to be up front about this one – I DID like the book.  I actually liked it a lot once I got past the 50% mark, but it frustrated the heck out of me because the beginning was so – so – so  slow.  It was descriptive, which is Maggie Stiefvater’s style, what can you do?  Nothing.  Just plug along and hope she gets to the point.  Which she did at the 50% mark.  Ugh.

But anyway – I did like the book.  The Raven Boys is a Quest Plot – meaning the characters, under the leadership of one member of the cast, (Gansey, in this case) embark on a quest to find something, they're looking for the grave of a king that was buried on a ley line (and a wish), and along the way the "team" must overcome hurdles and other difficulties to show that they deserve the prize at the end.

There is no prize at the end of this book – it’s a series so be prepared for that.  You barely make any progress in this book, most of it is set-up.

However, there were actually a lot of good parts, it’s just that most of them do not occur in the beginning.  I pretty much liked everything about Blue.  She was a little timid for my tastes, but she’s in a household filled with very strong women and she’s sort of the oddball out, seeing as how she lacks in the psychic powers department.  See, all her family members are psychics – except Blue, who is like a bullhorn for psychics.  She “Makes everything louder”.

I also liked ALL of the Raven Boys – in fact, I liked them better than Blue I think.  I like Ronan the best, then Gansey, then Noah, then Adam last.  Adam was even weaker than Blue – I mean – come on!  He’s a big guy, smart, hardworking – yet he puts up with a whole bunch of crap from his family that really doesn’t ring true.

I’d like to say that this book had a lot of excellent characterization or had an exemplary plot – but really, this book excels in descriptive pretty words and an intriguing myth/quest.  Even the setting was only ho-hum.

And yet, Maggie Stiefvater did get me to finish the book and now that the plot is moving along at a nice clip, I can totally see myself reading the second book and enjoying it as long as the plot doesn’t stall.  I’d recommend this book to my son – it’s not really a “girl book” so it’s one that crosses genders in my opinion.

It’s almost totally clean – if there was swearing it wasn’t a lot.  There is no sex, not even much violence – unless you count the discovery of a pretty cool mystery about one of the boys.  
Oh, speaking of which – I know that there’s more to Ronan than meets the eye and I am really hoping he gets a much bigger part in book two.  I enjoyed Ronan and his relationship with his brothers, although why the brother’s girlfriend got so much page time in the beginning was beyond me.  I get it – Stiefvater is probably setting her up for something, but ugh, again.  Was that really the best time to do that?  She played no part in this book at all, it couldn’t wait until she’s got some lines?

Four Stars for The Raven Boys

1 comment:

  1. I've been interested in this one. I didn't realize it was part of a series. Good to know about the description and pacing.


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