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Review: The Raven Boys
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic. 2012. Reviewed from arc from publisher. Official website.
The Plot: Blue Sargent, sixteen, is part of a family of psychics in Henrietta, Virginia. Since she can remember, the same prediction has been made about her: she would kill her true love. With a kiss. Blue keeps people at arms length, to make sure that prediction doesn’t come true or is at least delayed.
Richard “Dick” Campbell Gansey III attends Aglionby Academy, an exclusive boys school in Henrietta Virginia. He’s on a quest to discover Owen Glendower, a Welsh king who led armies against the English and disappeared in the early fifteenth century. He’s pulled his friends into his search: Ronan, Adam, Noah.
Blue stays away boys like Gansey, rich, spoiled, Raven boys. When their paths cross, she knows she should stay away from them. Gansey, rich and driven. Adam, the scholarship student with a chip on his shoulder. Ronan, lost and angry following the death of his father. Noah, quiet, watching, observing. Blue knows she should stay away — but she cannot help it. The adventure of finding Glendower, of discovering the magic in the world, the laughter and trust of friendship, and, maybe, love.
Oh, those Raven boys.
The Good: This book is better than a hot fudge sundae. With whipped cream. No, really.
Blue knows the supernatural is real. She’s in a family of psychics, remember? She’s not one; her gift is to make the talent of those around her stronger. Gansey hopes the supernatural is real. Yes, he’s good at finding things, and yes, he’s spent years and trust fund money on the search for Glendower. It’s not the burial place he wants. Gansey is convinced that Glendower is only sleeping and can be woken. Gansey’s belief is so strong that he’s persuaded Ronan and Adam and Noah to join him on his quest. Part of the fun of The Raven Boys is how Blue and Gansey and the others meet up. How they form a team. No, more than a team, a friendship.
Oh, and if you’re thinking if Blue’s family is psychic why don’t they just look into the future and see everything — that’s not quite how it works. As Blue explains at one point, it’s “a realization that even if you had discovered the future, it really didn’t change how you lived in the present. They were truth, but they weren’t all of the truth.” Perhaps that is the reason why, despite the prediction that Blue will kill her true love, she doesn’t keep the boys at arms length. She even finds herself falling for one of them. So easy to think, before it happens, oh, she’ll stay away from boys and so keep herself and her true love safe. So different when the boy you want is real, rather than a hypothetical.
While raving about this book on Twitter, someone asked if there was a cliffhanger ending. No, not really. The Raven Boys is the first in a four part series; and this part is about a necessary step that needs to be taken in the search for Glendower. There are twists and turns, and surprising things happen, and there are hints that there are more layers to the supernatural than is shown. There are the secrets and references — for example, I’m convinced that Stiefvater refers to a geis, just not by name. Which, if true, shows that for all the reader thinks they know by the end of The Raven Boys, there is so much more to learn.
I loved this book; and yes, it’s a Favorite Book Read in 2012. Unfortunately for you, and frustrating for me, some of the things I want to gush over are, well, spoilerish. (My definition of spoiler — things I wouldn’t want to know before reading.) So, alas, this book review is short except to say — Blue, Gansey, Noah, Ronan, and Adam are all wonderful characters. No, not characters, people, they are that real. The myth and magic and supernatural woven into the real world is just the type of fantasy I adore, and I can’t wait to see how much more is shown in the next books. There are turns and twists and reveals that made me reread this book right away, because I wanted to stay in this world but also because I wanted a better appreciation of how The Raven Boys was put together. What was told when? What was shared when?
How’s that for a lovefest with few details? Like I said: a hot fudge sundae of a book.
Filed under: Favorite Books Read in 2012, Reviews
About Elizabeth Burns
Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is email@example.com.
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