Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle Book 1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: September 18, 2012 (US)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fantasy
Synopsis: For anyone else Saint Mark’s Eve would pass by just like any other night, but not if you’re related to a family of seers. Every year Blue would spend April 24 out in a graveyard with her family surrounded by the soon to be dead, but Blue never saw anything. Blue’s no seer and when a non-seer sees a spirit on Saint Mark’s Eve it can mean only two things: he could be her true love, or she could be the one who kills him.
His name is Gansey and he’s a Raven Boy: AKA a rich Aglionby snob, but is it possible that there’s more to Gansey and his friends than meets the eye? Blue learns that the Raven Boys (Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah) are on a mysterious quest involving dangerous magic that could quite possibly get them all killed. Blue has always been told that she would kill her true love with a kiss, but she’d never believed it might become an issue . . . until now.
Book Trailer: *Note: I did not make this trailer. Credits are played at the end.*
Review: Unlike Ms. Stiefvater’s writing style in The Wolves of Mercy Falls and The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys is told in a third person omniscient point of view. The author did a great job switching between characters and it seemed to add to the plot and develop the many major characters in a way that would not otherwise be possible. However, not all of the characters motives are revealed at the beginning, leaving the reader to wonder what motivates them resulting in a mysterious undertone. I will admit that the pacing at the beginning was a bit slow and that I struggled to remain interested, but the book picked up in the last several chapters. As usual, Ms. Stiefvater’s writing was very descriptive and I could see why some people might find that distracting. I for one found it to be slightly overdone at times but overall enjoyable.
This book felt like a much needed introduction to the strange world of Henrietta, Virginia and the characters who lived there. There was Blue, the daughter of seers who is not a seer herself, Gansey, on a quest to find the mysterious King Glendower and the ley lines for reasons not relieved until late in the book, and his three friends Adam (the scholarship student) , Noah (the reserved one), and Ronan (who hasn’t been the same since his father’s passing).
It has come to my attention that in Ms. Stiefvater’s later books she seems to have developed a gradual trend towards more unusual names. Names like “Sam” and “Grace” in Shiver did seem too common but I think that the author might be trying a little to hard for originality as the names like “Gansey” and “Blue” can take the focus away from the storyline. I also enjoyed that like most of Ms. Stiefvater’s work The Raven Boys remains untainted by the traditional YA love triangle cliche (although I wouldn’t be surprised if a love triangle develops later on in the series). Romance is there, but it remains on the periphery as opposed to the focus.
Perhaps the most confusing part of this book was the ending. It came abruptly and left the story with an incomplete feel. Makes me wonder if Ms. Stiefvater was lagging behind on her deadline for this book . . . or maybe there was simply no good way to wrap the story up. Regardless, I expect great things from the sequel The Dream Thieves.
Quotes: “My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”
“Adam had once told Gansey, “Rags to riches isn’t a story anyone wants to hear until after it’s done.”
Rating/Recommendations: I recommend this book for fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s previous books or anyone who reads YA and wants to read something mildly creepy and unusual. I give this book 4/5 for originality, but some minor flaws and pacing issues that were easy to overlook.