Sunday, 7 October 2012

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“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've read the Shiver trilogy as well as Lament and Ballad, so I'm very familiar with Maggie's writing. The Raven Boys, however, is different. I love Maggie's writing, and so I loved this book too. I loved the mystical element incorporated in this book, and the character development was amazing! Maggie has definitely done her research for this one!

Blue's whole family is psychic, except for her. She just amplifies their abilities. It was interesting to read about Blue's journey, and to know how she felt to be different from the rest of her family. She is an independent girl, with a no-nonsense kind of nature. She also has a huge adventurous streak, which I liked. She's not afraid to confront her fears, and that takes a different kind of bravery. Blue knows that when she kisses her true love, he will die. She's known that forever, and every psychic she's met has predicted that. Blue is therefore very cautious around boys. There's this quote that I loved in the book - 

Blue had two rules: Stay away from boys, because they’re trouble, and stay away from raven boys, because they were bastards.

Cue the raven boys - Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah. Gansey kind of reminded me of Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby, and not only because their names are similar. Gansey is incredibly rich, and speaks in a posh way, like he's from the 1920s. Even though he may seem arrogant, there is something humble about him. He cares for his friends, and would do anything for them. I wasn't sure if i liked him at the start, but he grew on me later in the novel. 
Adam is a very likeable character. He stands out because he isn't wealthy like the rest of the students at Aglionby. He felt real to me, unlike Gansey. He also has a lot of pride, though it wasn't very helpful to him. Everything he did, he did on his own terms. There was a scene near the end of the book where I wanted to scream at him for putting his stupid pride above everything else, but I can't say what happened because I hate giving away spoilers. 
Ronan was probably my favourite raven boy, though most people may dislike him. He's aggressive, but is actually very compassionate. This side of him comes out when he decides to take care of a baby raven, which he names Chainsaw. Yes, I love that name too :P
Ronan is a fighter, and he fights for his friends too. I loved it when he stood up for Adam when his father started hitting him. Even though he has a hard wall around him, Ronan is very loyal to Gansey and Adam, and he has his reasons for being naturally distant - He was the one who found his father dead. That's got to leave a permanent mark on someone, right? Ronan also has a few secrets, dark ones, and I'm dying to find out what they are! Hopefully more will be revealed in the sequel.
Noah. The most enigmatic character in the book. He's barely ever there, and the first thing he says in the book is, "I've been dead for seven years." How can that not draw you in? Noah doesn't say much throughout the novel, though he plays quite a big part in it. He has a mild nature, and gets along well with Blue. We find out a lot of shocking things in The Raven Boys, and a good many of them involve Noah.

The plot was fantastic, with a supernatural and magical feel to it. The history about ley lines was fascinating, as was Cabeswater, a mystical place where magic exists.

There was something about the word itself that was magical. Cabeswater. Something old and enigmatic, a word that didn’t seem to belong in the New World.

Cabeswater is described beautifully, and the experiences that Blue and the raven boys have in that place are beyond anything they can imagine. They find the place while on Gansey's quest to find Glendower, and they are extremely confused when they realize it's not a normal wood. Even time seems to stop there, and they can see visions, possibilities of the future.

The only proper romance in The Raven Boys was seen in Blue's visions in Cabeswater, between her and Gansey. What she sees are very different versions of them, and she cannot tell if the visions will come true or not. It was a nice surprise to see a different side of Gansey, even though it wasn't in the present. I really want to read more about that! Blue and Gansey's relationship in this book isn't very developed. Maybe Maggie wanted it that way, to show them slowly getting closer to one another over the course of the series. Their first encounter was awkward, and after that Blue kind of began a relationship with Adam. I think Blue and Adam are more suited for one another, but I would really like to know how Gansey and Blue fall for each other!

Maggie's writing is amazing as always, and The Raven Boys is beautifully crafted. The writing is enchanting, which complements the plot very well. Every character is unique, and the descriptions were so visual. There was a cliffhanger at the end, and I'm dying to read the sequel! Sadly I have to wait for a whole year :(

All in all, I would recommend The Raven Boys to anyone who loves fantasy or supernatural books, and if you've read any of Maggie's other books, you've got to try this one (even though it's nothing like her other books). The Raven Boys is complex, unique, and definitely outstanding. Don't miss out on it!

Rating: 5/5

1 comment:

  1. I am very much looking forward to reading The Raven Boys. So much. Your review just made me even more excited. Maggie Stiefvater has such an amazing writing style. She rocks, and I can't wait for this book to rock my socks! (Yeah, too cheesy even for me!)


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