I finally got around to reading The Raven Boys earlier in October when I decided I wanted to take a break from my reread of the Harry Potter series. I was in the mood to read something new for the first time, and this series was just begging to be read! In typical me fashion, I actually had no idea what these books were about before I started reading the first page. I don’t even look at the synopses on the back or inside covers of books. Why do I do this to myself haha?
The Raven Cycle is a series I’ve been meaning to get around to reading ever since I joined the bookish community online. It’s been since about May earlier this year, and that was around the time when The Raven King, the fourth and final installment of the series, was released so everyone was talking about these books. But I waited until I owned all four books before I started reading the first one because, as per usual, I prefer to binge-read series all at once to have one continuous flow of storyline rather than read it over time with other books breaking in between.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Title: The Raven Boys*
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Fiction, Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy
Published: September 8, 2012 by Scholastic Press
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 Gansey is different. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more. 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 told by her psychic family that she will kill her true love. 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.
About: Maggie Stiefvater
“I am Maggie Stiefvater. I write books. Some are about dead Welsh kings. Some are about werewolf nookie. And some are about neither.
I have been a wedding musician, a technical editor, a portrait artist, and, for several fraught weeks, a waitress. I play several musical instruments (most infamously, the bagpipes), I still make art, and I recently acquired and unacquired a race car.
Also, I live in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with my husband, my two children, some cows, three dogs who fart recreationally, a criminally insane cat, an interminable number of miniature silky fainting goats, and one 1973 Camaro named Loki.
I like things that go.”
It’s very obvious to me that Maggie Stiefvater did a great job of intertwining multiple plot lines within this one story. Though main character Blue’s main issue is that she has always been told that she will kill her true love if she ever kisses that person, the story is actually about Gansey’s quest to find an ancient king called Glendower; and yet at the same time it also follows the struggles of Adam as he breaks away from an abusive family, and Ronan who is full of mystery and torment and must find a way to keep in school and deal with his father’s mysterious murder. Plus, there’s Noah, but I don’t think I can really say much to that without spoiling anything (except that I totally called it near the beginning!)
I think the supporting cast of this book is what really kept me interested. Blue and Gansey as the main characters didn’t quite cut it for me personally. I’ve seen so many people online who ship them, and who fangirl over Gansey in particular, but I honestly don’t see the appeal. They aren’t bad characters, they just weren’t interesting to me, though admittedly Gansey is a little bit better than Blue in my opinion. She like, tries really hard to be different and quirky (and talks about how hard she tries to be those things) and it was annoying. As a protagonist, she didn’t really take action or do anything of mention at all really throughout the book which was a little disappointing. Gansey was too YA-contemporary-fiction-male-lead for me, but I appreciated how interested he was in magic and ley lines and such.
However, the characters I was more interested in and cared more about (simply because they’re more interesting) were definitely the supporting characters. Ronan is particularly interesting because I loved his personality, and I did understand Blue’s desire to impress him because he seems to be impressed by nothing. I think I would definitely act on that as well if I ever met him. Neeve, Blue’s aunt, was also a great character because I just don’t know what to trust about her! There’s so much mysticism and mystery and I’m very excited to learn more about everything in the rest of the series.
This book does not seem to follow a typical book-outline. Therefore the pacing was a little off and actually pretty slow. It was a weird mixture of information being revealed very quickly, but very little action actually taking place. I think that in a fiction novel, it definitely works better to have less information revealed and more slowly. Plus more action occurring to keep readers interested. It took me ages to get through this book (partly because I was incredibly busy), but I like to think it was also because the story was slow and so I didn’t feel the need to turn the pages so quickly.
This book was good. It wasn’t fantastic. I really enjoyed the magical elements in it. Though honestly I wasn’t as big a fan of the way this urban-fantasy was written. I usually enjoy urban fantasy, but I just wasn’t a huge fan of the prep-school boys (and Gansey’s life). It feels a little too contemporary for my liking.
I give The Raven Boys 3.5/5 stars.
Have you read this series? What are your thoughts on this first book?
If you haven’t read the books, are you interested in beginning the series? Or are you still on the fence? Let me know in the comments!
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