I’ll be honest. I had absolutely no idea what The Raven Boys was about when I requested to be part of the ARC tour. I just knew a bunch of other bloggers had been raving about how excited they were for it, and about what a great writer Maggie Stiefvater is, so I threw my hat in the ring. And then it arrived in the mail and it was thick, and I had just been in a mini-slump and thought “Oh no. I’ll never finish this in a week.”
And then I finished it in three days (which for some book bloggers is still slow, but with the way my life has been lately, let me assure you that three days is about as fast as it gets). If that tells you anything.
The Plot (from Goodreads)
“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.
First of all, the synopsis is misleading. It implies that there is a romance in this book between Blue and Gansey, and there is not. There is a hint of romance between Blue and one of the other Raven Boys, but not Gansey. Now, I’m pretty sure that if all the foreshadowing is to be believed, the Blue-Gansey romance will come later in the series, but in this first book, there’s actually very little romance at all.
This book does really well on a few fronts. First, the story itself is really interesting. The complex relationships between the boys and Blue, the intricate supernatural element that they’re exploring, and the interwoven mysteries that play out all kept the narrative moving and my attention occupied.
I also really liked several of the characters, particularly Blue, Adam, and strangely enough, Ronan. I’m not even sure if I was supposed to like Ronan, but I did. Adam was definitely my favorite of the Raven Boys, and I thought the best developed. And Blue was feisty and quirky in a way that let me see how she would really fit in well with the odd group of friends.
Maggie Stiefvater’s prose is engaging and flows nicely. I can see why her books are so popular (and now I’m motivated to actually go read the Shiver trilogy, which has been sitting unread on my shelf for months).
One warning: This book asks some pretty big questions that are not answered in this book. One in particular that I thought for sure would be addressed before the end of the book, isn’t. It’s not a cliffhanger per se, just big questions that remain unresolved. Now I’m thinking that it will probably take the entire trilogy to get answers to some of these, but it took the entire book for me to realize the answers weren’t coming. It didn’t really bother me, but I just want you to be aware.
I did have a few problems with the book that kept me from completely loving it. The first is the shifting POVs. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good multiple-POV book, when it’s done right. And for the most part, this book did it right, with one exception. The villain (of sorts) gets a voice, and while part of me loves the idea of a villain getting to tell his side of the story, I don’t think it worked in this book. It all comes back to my whole hangup with “is this voice necessary?” and his POV was used so infrequently, I didn’t think it was necessary. Interesting? Kinda. Necessary? Probably not. Yes, he lets us in on a few pieces of information we wouldn’t have had otherwise, but I don’t think the story would have suffered without them, or if we had learned them through another method.
Then there’s the fact that I just didn’t really feel connected to Noah or Gansey, and I’m not sure why, but this story really needed me to have a connection with both of those characters to fully succeed. This just might be a problem with my brain, because I haven’t heard of anyone else having this problem. But bottom line, I felt like I really should care about these characters, and I didn’t. Not too much. I didn’t dislike them; I was just sort of apathetic towards them.
Now, will that apathy keep me from picking up the sequel? Definitely not. As I mentioned before, I loved some of the other characters, and the story is fascinating. So while I may not have thought the book was perfect, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I will be eager to pick up the next one when it comes out to see what happens next with Blue and the Raven Boys.
Content Guide: Contains profanity and some violence