Author(s): Maggie Stiefvater
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Press / September 18, 2012
Series: Raven Cycle (Book #1)
"Blue had two rules: Stay away from boys, because they're trouble, and stay away from Raven Boys, because they're bastards." (pg.81)
The Game's AfootAfter finally reading The Scorpio Races, I thought I knew what to expect from Stiefvater. Boy, was I wrong. That's not to say, Maggie's writing isn't as organic and eloquent as ever (it is) but the story is just... WOAH! I was a little caught off guard by just how much The Raven Boys would stick with me, even long after I finished reading it. This is one of those stories that creeps up and wholly overtakes you, and before you know it, you're knee deep in all its magic and splendor. I was as engrossed by this story and characters in it as Gancey was with his quest, so yeah, it's to say I became obsessed.
Maggie has a way with words and subtlety which is lacking immensely in the YA world. There are no cliches here. Her prose is nothing short of beautiful, her characters eclectic and her story enigmatic. The paranormal elements are grandiose but never overdone. She takes on strong character development, an intriguing plot and flowing prose, each one working well on its own but still balanced out by all the others. It's easy to lose yourself in it. This isn't a climactic, gunslinging thrill ride, by any means. Instead, the pace simmers to a slow boil, not so slow to be boring, but slow enough to let you digest everything that's going on. And trust me, there's a lot.
On the surface, The Raven Boys is about a girl named Blue and the mysterious quest she finds herself on. However, when you take a deeper look you find that, much like The Scorpio Races, it's more a story about people. We learn about a quirky girl with an eccentric family and the prophecy that manages to hold her back (more than she even realizes). There is the lure of magic and wealth and the temptation that it breeds. Not to mention, all the hunky eye candy. Yes, there are four (count em ladies!), four sexy dudes. But we quickly learn that these four aren't the swoon-worthy specimens of perfection that we're used to seeing. There is more to them than a bad-ass attitude or chiseled face. In fact, there's no discernable love triangle to be found (well, not really). The romance in it is sweet and builds at a slow, natural pace. And as it should, it takes a back seat to everything else. There's no rush, no insta-love to be found. REJOICE!
My favourite thing about the book by far though was the people. These guys (and gals) are the real deal. They are human instead of superhuman. With them, what you see is not what you get. You have to take your time and dig a little deeper. Get to know them. Maggie leaves us with an air of mystery about them. They are complex and you have to peel back the layers to get to the core. And the tragedy. Oh the tragedy! Every one of them, in their own way, struggles with personal demons. Though their lives might seem perfect on the surface, they are very far from it and it makes them so much more likeable. Honestly, I'm a little tired of the stock, one-note heroes/heroines that are commonly found in the YA genre but Maggie writes relatable characters who you genuinely feel for. I feel for you Ronan! I really wish I could hug you, Adam! And Noah... poor, poor Noah. You won't even believe...
If I have one criticism of the story, it's that it raises more questions than it does answers. So much is going on that we only have a short time to explore each avenue before we're taken down a new one. It's a lot to digest, but it's worth it (especially knowing this is a planned series). The Raven Boys is one of those books that, when you're done, the more you think on it the more it grows on you. It's contemplative, mysterious and complex and all around wonderful. I really enjoyed The Scorpio Races but The Raven Boys officially made me a Maggie believer. I BELIEVE!
Summary PrognosisThe Raven Boys is an imaginative and magical tale that stands out in a YA world full of clichés. While there are an abundance of supernatural elements in the story, it's never too out there or overdone. Stiefvater has created such an original story that's perfectly steeped in beautiful prose and complex characters, all wound tightly in an engaging plotline. The only downer is the general lack of answers to all those mind-blowing questions she asks. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of book #2!
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