A Series of Fortunate Reviews

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11. Book: The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater

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.

 

“She wasn't interested in telling other people's futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

 

I have to be honest here, when I first started The Raven Boys, I was skeptical. I had read Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy and thought that it was going to be close to that, but then I read the Scorpio Races and I really liked that so I picked The Raven Boys up. I stalled a couple of times reading it but then I pushed through it.

If I’d known going into it what I know now, or if I’d left my expectations behind on page one, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have found the first part quite slow. Okay, so the pace is slow. To get an idea on how slow it is, I’ll tell you that it takes four books for the predictable relationship to happen and for the main story line to be complete. That can be seen as a bad thing because, god you need to read all four books to see actual results. But the way Stiefvater’s done it allows more backstory to be developed all through the series, and through this book.

But you want to know more about this book, not the series as a whole.

What we have, once things start to unfold, is a captivating, character-driven story. The plot starts to thicken after the first one hundred pages and the characters really come into their own. The book essentially become something you can’t put down.

It isn’t something with of a YA PNR feel, which is to be expected upon first picking it up. A book about a girl whose kiss will kill her true love? That sounds to me like there are going to be pretty regular will they/won’t they kiss?! Scenarios. But that is not what we get with The Raven Boys. As it turns out, those scenarios are few and far between (understatement). And that, in my opinion, is a very good thing. It’s far less predictable and a lot wilder compared to original estimations. In fact, there is humour in there and twists and turns, and cliff-hangers that you wouldn’t believe:

“You are being self-pitying."
"I'm nearly done. You don't have much more of this to bear."
"I like you better this way."
"Crushed and broken," Gansey said. "Just the way women like 'em.” 

The Raven Boys themselves are a group of four boys who go to a prep school, they are seen as dangerous and avoidable. This group in particular is quite popular due to the lead, Gansey, because he comes from a powerful family. However, they could seem less interested in school and more focused on hunting down a long lost Welsh King Glendower, who is said to grant a wish upon being found.

So let’s talk about the group:

Gansey: I didn’t start out liking him very much. But as the story progresses and we learn more about why he acts the way he does, and what drives him on this quest with the other boys, he grew on me.

Adam: He is quite a gut-wrenching character. He doesn’t like pity and wants to do good for himself, he wants to be independent and not over reliant on the group. I think he stole the show when it comes to this book.

Noah: I don’t really know what to say about him because he appears so little, he is a minor character but develops more as the series goes on.  I knew there was something I was going to love about him and there is (but I won’t give too much away).

Ronan: Nobody likes Ronan. It’s kind of a fact that he has some prickliness going for him with an arrogant attitude. But he is intriguing. His feelings come from a serious backstory, one that isn’t explored in this novel but is in the second.

Blue: She is introduced to the group but isn’t really a part of it until later. Her wacky future seeing family shape her into who she is, even if she doesn’t have the ability herself, and she doesn’t let the group do too many stupid things. She’s lovable.

Really, the Raven Boys made the book because it is named after them. Their unbreakable friendship is the crux of the story.

The Raven Boys as the first novel introduces the series with a lot of holes that you know will be explored in the other books, which they are. As a standalone it wouldn’t do too well but it shapes the series and that’s needed. We need to know the surface of the characters before we get too invested in it.

In conclusion, this book is full of magic and friendship and wacky tendencies. It’s a filler for the series, but the plot of finding the King and the premise behind it draws the reader in. There’s a lot to be explored in this series, so give it some hope.

“My words are unerring tools of
destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

Would I read it again?

I’ve read all of the series and looking back, no I wouldn’t.

Is it my favourite book in the series?

No. I believe that would be the second one. But this is a good start to the four book roller coaster. 

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