Daily Archives: Friday, November 9, 2012

The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

November 9, 2012 Book Reviews, Books 6

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Steifvater
Published:
ISBN:
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Acquired: NetGalley

Introduction:

Part of me wishes I could just post the first chapter right here. The book opens with Blue Sargent, “Muggle” child of psychics, standing in a graveyard, late at night, on St. Mark’s Eve. On St. Mark’s Eve, in certain, powerful places – and if one is a psychic – one will see the dead arrive. Not just any dead, these are the dead to come, in the coming year.

Blue has never seen the dead.

Until this year.

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.”

Plot:

Two things in Blue’s life have been constant. Stay away from Raven Boys, the rich, privileged, obnoxious boys who attend Aglionby, the local private school.   And don’t kiss any boys. It has been foretold, by her family of psychics, that Blue will cause her true love to die.

So, when Blue sees a Raven Boy on St. Mark’s Eve, and he speaks to her, she knows in her head, she needs to stay away. Yet, she can’t help but find herself drawn to Gansey, and his compelling group of friends; Adam, the scholarship student with something to prove; Ronan, the fierce one who is so angry he could burn up the house with a glance, and Noah, the pale, watchful figure who haunts their lives. All four boys worm their way into Blue’s heart and before she knows it, she’s hooked.

And in their quest for Gansey’s obsession, their lives will change in irrevocable ways.

Characters:

Oh my gosh, the characters. THE CHARACTERS Y’ALL. The characters make this book. At first glance, they may seem cardboard cutouts. Blue, loner child of a strange family of female psychics, who tries to stand out with her funky hairstyles and home-fashioned attire. The smart, charismatic, rich boy. The poor kid looking to find a way out of his down-in-the-dirt existence. The fierce, almost suicidal, with nothing-to-loose, wearing his heart on his sleeve, boy. And the quiet, shy, secretive type. Yet all of these characters are so well-rounded, so nuanced, any thoughts of cliche are thrown out the window. Blue has lived her life in a family where she doesn’t feel she belongs. Everyone in her home, and there are a LOT of women in her home, are psychic. They walk around telling things that will happen during the day and of course, don’t go kissing any boys. She can’t do that. She can’t do any of that. But she’s a barometer for them. If she is in the room, their gift becomes more powerful. She helps them focus. This gift is important to her family, but to her, it almost seems an annoyance. A not-good-enough gift. Despite her prattle that she’s learned to live with her life’s circumstances, you can tell she wants more. And you can tell she can attain it, if she would just break out of that mold she’s put herself in.

And the Raven Boys. As with Blue, at first they all feel cliche, but that is from looking at them through Blue’s eyes. As she, and the reader, gets to know each of them, we see just how much Steifvater has done with them. Each boy has a story, a reason, a purpose. Each boy is as different as night and day, but when put together, they complement each other so well. And dude, if they don’t make you fall in love with each and every single one of them, something is wrong with you.

And then, their quest. Here Steifvater has done something original. Gansey’s quest is to find Glendower. Who is Glendower?

Owain Glyndŵr (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈoʊain ɡlɨ̞nˈduːr]), or Owain Glyn Dŵr, (c. 1349 or 1359 – c. 1416) was a Welsh ruler and the last native Welshman to hold the titlePrince of Wales. He instigated a fierce and long-running but ultimately unsuccessful revolt against the English rule of Wales.[1] (Wikiepedia)

In Steifvater’s story, Glendower takes on an Arthurian legend. He is meant to come back someday. And Gansey wants to find him. He has searched the world, and his search has brought him to Henrietta, Virginia. Magic, mystery, and science are all wrapped up in this brilliant counterplot to the boys, their lives, and Blue.

The king sleeps still, under a mountain , and around him is assembled his warriors and his herds and his riches. By his right hand is his cup, filled with possibility. On his breast nestles his sword, waiting, too, to wake. Fortunate is the soul who finds the king and is brave enough to call him to wakefulness, for the king will grant him a favour, as wondrous as can be imagined by a mortal man.

It’s on this quest to find Glendower, that Blue, and the boys, begin to learn unexpected things about the world. And themselves.

Strengths:

  • Liked, nay, loved, the characters
  • The story was new, original, something I haven’t read in YA before.
  • Strong plot
  • Best highlights are, for me, the boys

Weaknesses:

  • Could improve on writing faster?
  • You may not like this if you don’t like well told stories?
  • Really, can’t find a weakness.

Conclusion: 

Remember how I said, I wish I could just post the first chapter? Well, here you go. You’re welcome. Now go. Read it. And if you’re not hooked, well, I’m a monkey’s auntie.

Oh, and also? I think this is Ms. Steifvater’s best book yet. Not that I’ve read them all, but it’s the best I’ve read yet.

Favorite bits:

April days in Henrietta were quite often fair, tender things, coaxing sleeping trees to bud and love-mad ladybugs to beat against windowpanes. But not tonight. It felt like winter.

It didn’t escape Blue that his slightly accented voice was a nice as his looks. It was all Henriette sunset: hot front porch swings and cold iced-tea glasses, cicadas louder than your thoughts. (This is just SO the South.)

She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness.

And, but oh, I loved it so. I think I’ll go hug the book now.

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