Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) - Maggie Stiefvater


Goodreads:  An all-new series from the masterful, #1 New York Times bestselling author 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:

First Line: Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love.


I had read Maggie Stiefvater's Books of Faerie in the last year or so, and I wasn't very impressed.  They weren't awful, but they weren't all that great either.  The only reason I picked this series up is because everyone has been going absolutely MAD on the blogosphere for the series, so I decided to give Maggie Stiefvater another go.  I am so, so glad I did!  She's proven to me that I shouldn't write off authors entirely, because her writing has grown so much since she started with the Faerie books! 

From the very beginning it was clear that Maggie is on a whole new level - I mean look at that first line!  She really starts with a punch.  Right from the start you are thrown into Blue's crazy world.  I am such a huge fan of loving families in YA fiction because they happen so rarely.  In fact, I can't think of any books with families that had good relationships that I didn't like.  So from the first chapter I knew I was likely going to really enjoy this book.  Blue's relationship with her family is perhaps a little freer than we are probably used to reading (if the family factors in a novel at all).  This didn't bother me too much, because Blue's family situation is a little crazy to begin with.  Everyone except for Blue has some amount of psychic powers, and she lives with all sorts of aunts and cousins, all under the same roof!  But she loves her family, and even if they are a little unorthodox, they seem to work well together.

Then there was the whole lore.  I won't go into much here because I don't want to spoil any of the mysteries as that's a big part of the awesomness of the book.  It's basically a mix of many things you've probably come across over the years.  Ley lines are actually a thing, and are an explanation for some of the ancient mysterious places we have, like Stonehenge.  The sleeping Welsh king that Gansey is searching for (is it just me or do love interest always have the most ridiculous names?) is a theme that pops up through all sorts of mythology and folklore.  Merlin and King Arthur are both examples of the sleeping king under the hill motif.  The pocket of trees is reminiscent of all sorts of faerie stories where time and place is distorted.  I won't go into any more detail than that, and I know many of you could care less about this sort of thing, but as someone who is really interested in mythology and folklore I found the combination of all these things that are so familiar to us, but with Stiefvater's twists of course, were extremely interesting and easily one of my favourite parts of the book.

Now don't make frownie faces at me, but I'm not one of the huge Gansey fan girls out there.  I really liked all of the characters, and I'm not saying that I disliked Gansey, I'm just not a hard-core Gansey/Blue shipper.  In fact, I'm quite partial to Adam (who everyone else seems to hate).  I'd say of all the four boys, these two are the most fleshed out right from the start, which makes sense as they are posed as potential love interests.  Noah is extremely sweet, and we discover things about him throughout the book.  It's Ronan I don't get at all.  Why are there so many Ronan fan girls??  He's crass and aggressive!  I have never understood that sort of attraction.  Don't get me wrong, I love a bad boy as much as the next girl, but not when they're just being a bastard the whole time.  I get that there's a whole mystery behind his father's death and it factors into why Ronan acts like this, but that doesn't get delved into until the next book, so mostly he just looks like a jerk in this one.  I don't dislike him more than the other boys, he just seems a bit misunderstood, but I certainly don't understand his huge shipdom.  But I've gotten sidetracked haha. 

Ordinarily I'd be bothered by the lack of a strong best friend figure, but with such a big cast of main characters, it didn't bother me in this book.  Admittedly, I'm a fan of reverse harem I'm a little predisposed to enjoying have a female lead and four guys to make up the main cast. What I liked is that with four guy characters and the whole supernatural mystery, not too much time was focused on romance.  Sure it was there (again, look at the first line.  Clearly it's there for a reason), but with the so many secrets to discover (and Blue's common sense that warns her that if she kisses a boy he might die, and that's not a thing to mess with unnecessarily), it focuses on where the ley line is, how to find the sleeping king, what the woods are...and other things I can't tell you because they are spoilers.  I also appreciated that the love triangle isn't really a love triangle, *SPOILERS* as Blue isn't interested in Gansey at the moment, and doesn't really seem to be very interested in pursuing a relationship with Adam.  It's weird, nothing is really explicitly said or thought by the characters, and it seems to just fizzle out which I didn't even notice til the end.*SPOILERS*.

Would I recommend this book?

Absolutely.  Despite what I've said about it being light on the romance in this book, it's still there and will clearly be a focus in the later books so this will appeal to paranormal romance lovers as well as urban fantasy lovers or people like me who are generally interested in mythology/folklore.


  1. I'm so glad you liked it! When I went back and read Lament, I couldn't believe it was the same author. I just read The Dream Thieves and I think it was even better than The Raven Boys. Also, you will probably see why people like Gansey (you will get to understand him much better) and why they don't like Adam as much (he has a the sequel). I still don't get Ronan either, but at least we understand so much more about him. Also, you MUST read The Scorpio Races. It is probably one of my favorite books of all time.

  2. Oh, yeah, he is pretty annoying in The Dream Thieves. He starts to redeem himself at the end. But I didn't get too wrapped up in it because there was so many other awesome things going on. Plus, I few this series as a marathon, not a sprint, so I'm happy to sit back and let it all work itself out. It is pretty obvious Stiefvater is playing a long game with The Raven Cycle. :) I can't wait to hear what you think about The Dream Thieves.

  3. Oh this sounds promising, guess it must go onto my to be read list! I've never read anything by Maggie Stiefvater, so I guess I may as well start with this one :)

  4. I would definitely recommend starting with this one rather than The Faerie's Lament (and I haven't read her werewolf series, so I can't say one way or the other about that)

  5. Hello, me again! I'm glad you read The Raven Boys- my latest obsession. (I read The Dream Thieves the day it came out!) I haven't read anything else by Stiefvater, but I definitely loved her style of writing here. And, as you pointed out, it is light on the romance and heavy on the fantasy- which is how I like my books, thank you very much. All I really wanted to say in this comment is, YES I TOTALLY KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT GANSEY. I too like Adam. I feel almost motherly and protective of him.

    Oh, and I'm glad you pointed out Blue's awesome family. Calla is my absolute favourite. I wish she and Ronan had more scenes together. They make for such explosive characters. (And not to worry, there is much more on Ronan in The Dream Thieves. Doesn't excuse his behaviour, but certainly explains it, and somewhat endears him to me.)

    Okay, end of long comment. Cheers.

  6. Thank you, someone finally agrees with me! I feel like Adam is more or less universally hated and that everyone goes crazy shipping Gansey/Blue! I mostly don't get it because there's not even really any romantic tension between the two of them - in fact the only reason we know he IS a romantic interest is because of the graveyard scene in the beginning and vague scenes from the future? Or alternate universe (I'm thinking future is more likely). But this is only based on the first book, so I'm sure some of my opinions are soon to shift haha.

  7. I've heard SO many good things about The Scorpio Races! And judging by this series, I'm definitely checkin it out. The one thing I really do like about Gansey is that he seems to just be himself, whereas the other four boys you only get glimpses of who they are (which of course adds to the mystery in the case of Ronan and Noah). I've read a bunch of reviews of The Dream Thieves...and Adam seems...really whiny :( I mean he was kind of getting there at the end of Raven Boys, but I thought he'd snap out of it, which is a shame (but is probably done for good reason)


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