If you'd like to see the Goodreads.com overview for The Raven Boys before checking out my review, click the link.
The Raven Boys is only the second Maggie Stiefvater book I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. I’m already counting the days till the sequel comes out. Here’s why:
This is very much a character driven book and Maggie Stiefvater has created a fascinating cast for readers to follow.
I like how Blue starts the story despising the Aglionby boys and then finds her assumptions about them challenged as she gets to know them better. Despite the fact they attend a school for the privileged they all have issues that soon endear them to Blue in ways she didn’t expect. The author communicates these issues so subtly, for example, a fray in Adam’s sweater tips off Blue that he isn’t one of the typical rich kids that attend Aglionby. Blue goes from labeling the boys as “the Elegant Boy”, “President Cell Phone, the smudgy one, or their hostile friend” to discovering that, like her, they’re real people with real problems.
The relationships in this book were complicated and I really enjoyed that. Each of the Raven Boys could be difficult to get along with and often they got under each other’s skin. Toss in Blue, the slightly eccentric daughter of a psychic, and the dynamic gets even more complex.
I also enjoyed Blue’s unconventional home life with her mother’s psychic friends. Out of the adult characters, I liked Persephone the most. Her soft spoken and spacey demeanor reminded me a lot of Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. Interesting considering the Raven Boys had a bit of a Marauders thing going on (perhaps another reason I liked them so much).
My favourite character overall was Adam. The issues in his home life caused me to be the most invested in him. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by his story line.
The plot of The Raven Boys seems designed first and foremost to build the characters. The book centers around a quest involving ley lines and searching for a legendary sleeping king that will grant his finder a magical favour. The characters have their own reasons for participating in the quest and wanting this favour. Those reasons say a lot about who they are and, more importantly, who they want to be. It’s easy to see how a quest with such a prize could lead to dissension even among close friends.
Initially I found this book a little slow, but once it became evident that it was far more about the characters than the actual quest itself, I settled into the pace. Perhaps that’s because I loved the characters and wasn’t eager for this segment of their story to end.
There was also one particularly spooky twist that I did not see coming. In looking back, I can say that the author definitely played fair in foreshadowing this revelation.
The premise of the romance in this book hooked me in right away. Blue’s mother and her psychic pals predict that if Blue kisses her true love, he’ll die. Kind of makes relationships tricky, so naturally the author introduces two different boys that Blue wouldn’t mind smooching. The way Blue initially discovers the identity of her “true love” is both creepy and intriguing and I was immediately eager for them to meet in person. Of course her supposed “true love” isn’t the boy that Blue initially gravitates to—that would be too easy. This had to be one of the most creative takes on a love triangle I’ve ever seen and I honestly don’t know who to root for because I like both of the potential love interests.
I don’t feel remotely qualified to comment on this, but I’ll give it a go. Maggie Stiefvater writes beautifully and has a very distinct style. In my opinion this is the kind of author new writers should aspire to be like. She knows how to create vivid pictures of characters and settings with only a handful of details. Her writing is often poetic, yet not overly flowery, and manages to capture a feeling of real life. There are lessons to be learned here: looking past the labels put on people, loyalty to friends, the dangers of obsession (and probably others I’m missing) but none of them are heavy handed. This is helped by the humour in the book, which isn’t overdone either.
I also feel the need to say that I’m pleased with the way the author handled the issue of one character’s allergic condition. This is an issue in my family, which makes me particularly sensitive to how it’s presented. Too often I see inaccurate and even ridiculous portrayals of anaphylaxis/allergies (mostly in movies), which don’t help people understand how serious a problem it actually is. I was very happy when Maggie Stiefvater accurately portrayed the severity of this. I have no idea whether this is a personal issue for her, but at the very least it shows she did her research.
There are many more great things I could say about this book, but I’ve rambled long enough and I don’t want to give away any spoilers. If you’re big on stories that have interesting characters and a unique premise, then this is definitely one to check out.