31 Jul 2015

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater


Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Source: Borrowed from the Library/Purchased from TBD
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Rating: 4/5 stars

“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.

I mean, everyone knows my whole life revolves around Ronan Lynch right? No surprise? Because his name is my url for Goodreads. So clearly I have lots of love for this series, and this book in particular. I picked this one up on a whim when it was $2.99 on Kobo because I had heard some good things about it but wasn't sure if it was going to be something I wanted to read. I know Maggie writes well and all that jazz but I was still a little skeptical. But holy shitballs. This book. This series. I have no words for how much I love it, but I will try to be semi-coherent here.

I did think there was a lot of slowness to this book. It took it's time bringing us into the story and explaining the overall plot to us, but because of that I can remember all the nuances and individual plot points of The Raven Boys even though I read it a year ago. Without realizing it, Maggie pulls you into the world so immensely that you start to question whether or not you are tagging along with the raven boys on one of their adventures.

Since this is a series, the first book really focused on introductions to the characters which did drag it down a bit, but there was still a legitimate plot arc in this one that was separate yet entangled with the overarching plot that will be developed more in the next books. I read this one once and then once the big mystery was resolved, I read it again and caught on to so many other little things that foreshadowed it that I didn't catch the first time that I had to laugh at myself. It was perfectly executed in my opinion.

The characters were so compelling. At first I thought it wouldn't be a big deal that Gansey would die (which isn't a spoiler) because I knew that it was going to happen but after meeting him and getting to know Richard Gansey, I am not sure how I will handle it when it does happen. The story revolves around Blue and Gansey, along with Gansey's three friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. The vast majority of my love for this book revolves around the friendship that those four boys share and the way they bring Blue into the mix as if she was a long lost friend (after Ronan threatens her, of course). 

As much as I love Gansey, he was not my favourite character in this book. Yes, the story focused a lot more on him and Blue in this one, but it was the little glimpses of everyone else that I loved. Gansey, though, was the glue to this entire book and in reality the entire series. He is obsessed with finding ley lines and awakening the ancient Welsh king Glendower, who he believes through his research is hidden somewhere in Virginia. He is passionate about this and will stop at nothing to find him. But that passion also bleeds into the rest of his life: his frinds, his family, his schoolwork, nothing doesn't get 110% of Richard Gansey's attention and concentration.

Adam felt as if he was the outsider to the entire group since he was not the typical spoiled rich kid but was on scholarship to attend the same school as Gansey, Ronan, and Noah. He wants to get out of his small little town to bigger and better things because he cannot imagine staying where he is for one second longer. And really, who could blame him. I was sympathetic toward him -- to an extent. He was an asshole sometimes to Gansey when it came to money, but it was obvious that where Gansey never had to think about money and what it meant, that was all Adam could focus on. I thought Adam was kind of greedy and I think because of it he is going to make bad life choices.

Noah was not in this book as much as I would have liked. I felt like he should have been more prominently featured in some of this one but I did like him. I feel like he can be more involved in the plot next time and in the series in general. I felt as though there wasn't enough of him for me to make a real connection to him.

The last raven boy, and my favourite character, is one Ronan Lynch. I love everything about him. He has a dark past after finding his father dead, causing his family to fall apart. He is a free soul that is clearly reigned in (to an extent) by Gansey, but I want Ronan to be able to run wild. I need so much more than what we are given about Ronan's life and his little Chainsaw. He is so complex that I feel like there are parts of him that Ronan doesn't even know yet.

Blue's story is one that was probably the most interesting to me -- but it is also one we got to see a lot more of. She lives with a heavy burden but has such a good support system in her mother and those she lives with that she still has a lot of love and life in her. I liked that it wasn't just a blanket stamp of approval from the boys to include her in their shenanigans but that she had to approach them differently -- individually -- for them to keep her around and want to be around her.

I was instantly hooked and obsessed with this novel. It was a real page turner and while it had a complete story arc within this book, it set up the plot for the rest of the novels to play off of. It also takes it's time explaining things and doesn't rush from one plot point to the other but gradually gets there. Slow build of the actual plot but an interesting read.

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