16 April 2014

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The first in the Raven Cycle, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is wonderfully mystical, artfully written, and full of unique characters.

In The Raven Boys, Blue Sargent unexpectedly befriends four boys who are on a quest to find a long-dead (sleeping?) Welsh king. Oddly enough their mystical quest is not what makes their friendship unexpected; that part is par for the course for the daughter of a psychic. What's strange is that these four boys are students at Aglionby Academy, an expensive boarding school at complete odds with the other residents of Henrietta like Blue.

I can honestly say that the above description does not in any way do this story justice, but I struggled with what to say. Most would probably argue that this book is about four friends foray into the mystical, and that certainly is the primary plot, but while writing the summary, I kept thinking about how much of this story focuses on the relationships between characters. Whether driven by love, class, beliefs, superstitions, or stereotypes, the interactions between Blue, Adam, Noah, Ronan, and Gansey are really at the heart of the novel for me. For a much, much better explanation of the plot, visit Jill over at Rhapsody in Books.

But back to the mystical. The supernatural elements are so artfully woven into the more mundane that the world Stiefvater has created seems perfectly plausible. While the otherworldly bits are spectacular, they aren't spectacle (if that makes sense). They are integrated into the story without the pomp and circumstance and bloody violence so typical of other popular stories. Everything in this world seems subtly dangerous, a world brimming with intent whether for good, evil, or more likely that undefined absence of good and evil.

And the writing, oh the writing. Ana from things mean a lot said it best when she described "the prose [as] incredibly accomplished in a subtle sort of way — it doesn’t draw too much attention to itself, but it makes you completely unable to see the strings behind the puppets, if you know what I mean." Throughout the novel, I found myself continuously thinking about how unassuming the writing was while simultaneously being some of the best writing in YAL I've read in quite awhile.

A big thanks to Ana and Jill for turning me on to this series! I'm halfway through the second, The Dream Thieves, and I am thrilled to say that it is in no way suffering from secondbookiotis, a horrid disease where book 2 is merely a bridge between books 1 and 3. The final book in the series is much too far away for my peace of mind.

14 comments:

  1. You're most welcome! I'm so glad you liked it :D And yes, The Dream Thieves completely escapes has terrible affliction! Let me know when you get to the end. MY HEART.

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    1. I finished The Dream Thieves a day or two ago. I think I liked it even more than The Raven Boys, which has never happened to me in the history of reading series.

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  2. I love Stiefvater. She makes any genre you think you won't like into one you do!

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    1. This was my first of hers, but I am definitely picking up more; I actually have The Scorpio Races on my nook already.

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  3. I honestly couldn't get into this one. I hated the writing, and was bored by the plot, so I gave it up. :/ I really wanted to like it, too! It SEEMS like it'd be so interesting!

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    1. Just goes to show that people are quite varied in what turns them on with a book.

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  4. Hahahaha, with each successive rave review of this series, I get more and more anxious that it won't live up to my expectations when I finally read it. Expectations can be such a killer!

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    1. That is very true. Sometimes too many high hopes kill a book.

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  5. I couldn't agree more! The writing was so amazing, and I fell in love with the characters.

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    1. It was so great to read a book that really sucked me in; it had been awhile.

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  6. You're killing me! I keep reading so many positive things about this book. Your review is going to make me read it. :-)

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    1. Read it, read it, read it *chanting*. :)

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  7. I didn't intend to miss this review but I realized I did when I saw you talking about The Dream Thieves. So I had to come back. I absolutely LOVED this book. I didn't expect to, but there is the Jill factor that just wouldn't let me off the hook. The whole set-up is clever...the psychics, the dead/sleeping king, the ley lines, etc. But the real beauty of this story is the chemistry. She nails it, doesn't she? BTW, the audios of these books are incredible.

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    1. I can imagine that the audios are awesome. I may re-read them that way before the third book comes out.

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