Psychics and ley lines and Welsh mythology and rich, private school boys oh my!
Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that this book was just setting things up for later books, I would have rated it much higher.
THE RAVEN BOYS
by Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Inc., July 2013
YA urban fantasy
Series?: Yes (#1 of The Raven Cycle)
Rated: / 5 cookies
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 initial impression of this book pretty much went along the lines of: “So wait. Girl meets four rich boys and their fates are intertwined in the big picture of things.” Which then made me think of a favorite J-Drama of mine (Hana Yori Dango) which also consists of one independently-minded girl and four seemingly entitled private school boys. In the case of The Raven Boys, its version of the F4 is more concerned about bigger things than inheritance issues (though that still is a small problem for some) and petty school-bullying tactics. Like magic. And finding magic. And waking up a legendary king for said king to grant one boon.
Suddenly the rest of the book itself just crashed into the world of magically awesome.
There were a lot of different plot points happening in the book which sometimes threw me off because I wasn’t sure just which one was the major, “big picture” plot. First off, there’s Blue Sargent, who was told at a very young age that she would kill her true love with a kiss. Blue’s not the type of girl who would easily be put off with such a vaguely predicted future, but she does live with a group of women–her mother and psychic “aunts”–who’ve pretty much confirmed the same prediction throughout the board. And unlike the faux psychics littering the modern world, Blue’s aunts happen to be right.
Which brings about her avoidance of any boy in general, especially the ones who attend the local prep school, Aglionby. Aglionby boys–raven boys–are apparently trouble. Not to mention self-entitled, snooty, and overly blase about what they’re spending their inheritances on. Certainly this is what Blue’s first impressions are over seeing them at work. And she doesn’t much change her mind even when one of the raven boys has his eyes riveted to her.
But this is really only skimming the top part of the big picture. The raven boys themselves encompass the larger portion of the book.
Which brings me to the R4 (haha, because HYD-play going on here). While much of the POV happening in the book is Blue’s, there’s still a bunch of other characters that are highlighted within. Adam and Gansey being two of them (though I do believe Ronan also features his POV in one scene or other). While Blue provides a more magically-attuned view of ley lines and whatnot, it is the R4 perspective that dragged me in. They were complex characters, all of whom were dealing with a great deal of other things besides finding the magic in the ley lines. Ronan, for instance, struggles with what’s happened to him in the past, all the while lashing out to everyone, even his friends. Adam suffers in his own, prideful way, a scholarship boy living in a tragic familial situation.
My favorite of the POVs would definitely have to be Adam, mostly because I really felt for him in the writing. Ronan was a close second, because I feel like he’s got more potential for a lot of things in the future books. That ending “revelation” certainly proves so, and I was pretty much stoked for this ability of his. I’m still reserving my judgment on Gansey, because I think he does have moments where he’s a bit adorable, but other times I’m feeling “meh” towards him.
Still, Stiefvater wrote quite a bit of magic in the pages, but mostly they were tidbits here and there. For the most part, the story had been largely driven through character decisions that took place in the past, and then, eventually, the present. Or, erm, the future, because there was some weird time-traveling phenomenon going on at some point.
The end of the book did leave me wanting more, though. I still had several questions gone unanswered (What about Declan’s current girlfriend? Does she become more prominent later on? And don’t even get me started on the questions those last chapters brought up!). There was also a great deal of open-ended problems that needed to be resolved; in fact, the one plot point that had closed off was something minor and more attached to the past than the present, IMO.
As an introductory book to the rest of The Raven Cycle series, The Raven Boys made fantastic work of character introductions and motivations. I’d love to read more about the characters in the story, especially more of the R4 and Blue and her slightly crazy household. I do want to know how Blue’s going to end up killing her “true love,” though I’m not sure at this rate whether I’m feeling the whole Gansey-Blue thing that’s supposed to be happening. Maybe that’s the point, and their romance is as slow-burn (and slightly amusing) as Makino and Domyouji.
3.5 out of 5 cookies! I do want to read the rest of the series in any case.