Review: The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys, by  Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Boys, by
Maggie Stiefvater

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that if she kisses her true love, he will die.

Because Blue is the only non-seer in a family of clairvoyants, all of whom agree on this one basic fact. But true love–and kissing, for that matter–seem like far-off eventualities for Blue, until the fateful night when she accompanies her aunt to the graveyard on St. Mark’s Eve and sees her first ever ghost. Except he’s not dead, at least not yet. He has a name: Gansey. And the only reason Blue can see him is because he’s either her true love….or she killed him.

And soon after, Blue’s world collides with the living Gansey and his tight-knit group of Aglionby Prep School friends, nicknamed Raven Boys for the mascot stitched onto their blazers. Despite her usual aversion to Raven Boys, Blue is immediately drawn to the four friends; disturbed, angry Ronan, whose difficult relationship with his brother drives him to drink and violence; Adam, the smart scholarship student who fears going home at night because his father beats him; quiet Noah, who watches everything but never says much; and rich, handsome Gansey, whose mysterious quest for a sleeping king and a prophecy binds his friends together like glue despite their differences.

Is one of these boys Blue’s true love, destined to die if she kisses him? And what is her role in the resurrection of Glendower, the sleeping Welsh king of legend? And most importantly, can she keep Gansey from dying, possibly by her own hand?

I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. The first portion of the book focuses mainly on Blue and her eccentric family of clairvoyant women, and I thought Stiefvater did a great job of painting all the women as individuals, all unusual in different ways. The fact that Blue’s mother and aunts can all see the future was presented very matter-of-factly by Stiefvater, which no explanation as to how or why. I really liked this choice on the part of the author–it allowed the characters peeks into the future without needing to put the clairvoyance itself front and center.

I loved the Raven Boys themselves. As with Blue’s clairvoyant family, Stiefvater makes each boy an individual, providing rich backgrounds and depths of inner turmoil for each of their personalities. But the real star of the show is Gansey; an ambitious and intelligent young man who comes from family money and has a desperate need to prove himself as being something other than rich. So he pursues the inexplicable, and has recently latched onto the notion of Glendower, an ancient Welsh king who is supposedly caught in a magical sleep until the moment he is resurrected by a chosen hero. The bonus: whoever awakens him will be granted a boon. And each of the Raven Boys–and even Blue–all have something they desperately want. Will finding Glendower solve their problems, or just complicate them?

The pacing in the first quarter of the book is a bit slow, but the spooky atmosphere and the mystery of just why Blue saw Gansey’s spirit on St. Mark’s Eve made me keep reading. And once the book hit its stride, I was hooked. I literally couldn’t put this book down for the three nights it took me to finish it. Unfortunately, the ending was even more frustrating than the beginning. After an explosive and exciting climax, the book simply shudders to an end, leaving the reader with a thousand questions and very few resolutions. I know Stiefvater intends this book to be the first in a series, but I would have preferred a novel that stood more on its own instead of spending so much energy planting the seeds for the follow up novel.

But for the most part I loved this book. Maggie Stiefvater’s voice and style are impeccable as usual, and the plot had enough twists and turns to keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering just how many shoes were going to drop. I will definitely keep an eye out for the sequel!

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