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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (edition 2012)

by Maggie Stiefvater, Will Patton (Narrator)

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1,3211335,894 (4.14)108
Title:The Raven Boys
Authors:Maggie Stiefvater
Other authors:Will Patton (Narrator)
Info:Playaway (2012), Preloaded Digital Audio Player
Collections:Your library
Tags:in library, young adult, paranormal, new age, ley lines, psychics, Virginia

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


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I cannot express how much I love reading anything by Maggie Stiefvater. She has such a gift for building worlds. The tension between Blue and Gansey is palpable. There is definitely going to be sparks flying in book 2. ( )
  kissedbyink | Nov 14, 2014 |
For more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

Oh hey. So yeah. I did this thing. I read The Raven Boys. And I told absolutely no one. I almost accidentally blurted it out in chat a bunch of times. I also thought about instagramming myself reading over lunch and then realized I was reading The Raven Boys secretly, which I would no longer be post ill-considered Innstagram. However, I remained steadfast and secretive, even once I know, early on, that I was going to like the book. I wanted to be able to have only my thoughts in my head for this one, because there’s so much out there already and I didn’t want the hype to mess with my experience. Anyway, you guys win: The Raven Boys is fantastic.

Sometime after Forever, Maggie Stiefvater grew into the sort of author whose books I can appreciate. I’m not saying her previous books are objectively terrible, because they’re not. They are, however, books I struggled through. I’d mostly given up on Stiefvater’s fiction ever being for me, despite the intriguing premises. But then everyone in the world said that The Raven Boys was so different and The Scorpio Races got a redesign with a cover so pretty I had to own it and Stiefvater released a book about Cole and Isabel. I already read Sinner and noted how different it was and The Raven Boys is similarly a step away from her first five novels. Where the first five have MCs I find, minus one, incredibly boring, The Raven Boys and Sinner are populated by characters of depth and quirk and pain.

The characters didn’t charm me first, though. That was the writing. The Raven Boys is another of those books that should be used to beat down people who sneer at YA as being juvenile and poorly written. We all know they’re wrong of course, but they don’t…yet. If they ever read books like The Raven Boys, we’ll convert them, if they’re capable of being honest to themselves at all. Maggie’s writing is gorgeous and dreamy, in a way that perfectly matches the magical realism of the novel. There are so many quotable quotes that keeping track of all the good lines would fill a good deal of notebook.

Precisely no one has shelved The Raven Boys as magical realism on Goodreads, which makes me wonder if I’m wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t own up to this in a review, because I feel like it could be embarrassing. Personally, I think The Raven Boys walks a line between paranormal and magical realism. I suspect it’s going to tilt on over in The Dream Thieves, but there’s something about the dreamy quality of it and the fact that the magic’s been lying dormant for so long people might not have realized the real world had magic that makes me say magical realism. Does it matter really? No. But I felt like rambling on about it. You’re welcome.

I’d been warned that The Raven Boys was slow and might even be boring, perhaps because people wanted me prepared to not immediately dismiss the book. I didn’t find it to be so at all. It’s a long book, so it took some time to read, but I thought the pacing was good. The plot is a bit hazy at first, but at the end I was left superbly impressed with what had been accomplished. It’s unclear at times because you sort of spiral in on it and the mood is really important. It all just fits together really well, if that makes any damn sense.

I’m sort of at a loss for quite what to say about the characters actually, though I’m sure I’ll get over that. To help me, let’s start with some hilarious misconceptions I got from the things I saw on Twitter or in chats with people who were talking about this series.

I thought this series was about a girl named Blue who had three hot guy friends, two of whom are interested in her. Instead, there are four hot guy friends. HOW HAD I NEVER HEARD ABOUT NOAH?
Because of all the love for Ronan and the spoiler I know about him, I was really shocked to actually meet him. Was not expecting him to be quite so punch-oriented. Again, I would have thought I’d have heard about that.
I totally expected Adam to be similar to his namesake in Shatter Me, based on the dislike I see of him around the internet. He is not.
Blue: I don’t have a great handle on Blue yet. I feel like there’s so much to come from her, like I can sense her coming evolution and character arc, so it’s almost like something’s missing. What I do like about Blue is that she simultaneously desperately wants romance and doesn’t, because dooming your true love with a kiss is way harsh Tai. Simultaneously, Blue does and doesn’t want to have the psychic abilities of her family. She’s like to be either normal or actually able to experience psychic visions herself. Maybe this is why I don’t have a hold on Blue? She hasn’t decided yet what she wants to be, just that she wants something. She herself doesn’t know who she is yet.

Blue’s Family: Freaking fantastic. They’re strange and occasionally creepy, but I love this house of psychics. The dynamic reminds me a lot of that in Practical Magic. There’s a powerful sense of family and community and magic, but they’re also more friends than family members. Maura loves Blue and takes care of her, but she’s not remotely a traditional mother. Blue has as much say in her choices as Maura does. Actually more. I love non-traditional but functional families, and this ones if fabulous.

Adam: Guys, he is so sweet. I know this book is heading for the good ship Gansey, but Adam’s really adorable too. This poor guy has such a shit life and is trying so hard to make his way out on his own two feet. Is it any wonder that he shies away from any sort of dependence when being a dependent has been so horrible? *hugs Adam* His crush on Blue is super cute, but admittedly I’m not exactly on this ship either because a) I don’t really see the chemistry and b) events.

Gansey: He’s kind of an ass. Again, wasn’t really prepared for that. However, he’s an ass who’s really trying to quit being an ass and who has only the best of intentions. Basically, he’s incredibly socially awkward. What’s funny is that nobody really notices how awkward Gansey is because he’s so rich and attractive and intelligent. Everything he does seems intentional, but he’s constantly putting his foot in his mouth. Of course, he also calls Blue “Jane,” which is an intentional dick thing to do, but he is a Dick after all. Also, that makes them Dick and Jane, which hahahaha. Not actually on this ship either, because tragic and because I don’t really see the sparks here either yet. The book does say they’re coming, but I have to wait and see.

Ronan: Ellis’ baby. Someone needs to get this kid some counseling. Gansey’s sort of his mother/psychiatrist/friend and he’s not exactly fit for this role, since he has his own host of issues. Their friendship is touching, as is any moment that Ronan opens up to Adam or Blue. Actually, all of these characters need big hugs. Can I hug all of them? Also, what’s up with Declan? And his dad? I MUST KNOW THINGS.

Noah: Biggest hug of all for Noah. Poor Noah. You’re not as interesting as the other Raven Boys, but I accept you. I’m trying to decide if he has the saddest story and he just might. This character is such an enigma and I’m really curious as to how he’s going to further the plot down the road.

There. My massive attempt to review The Raven Boys is over. The short version is that I thought it was incredible, but I also don’t have the feels. Hopefully, the feels will pile on top of me and destroy me utterly in The Dream Thieves. ( )
1 vote A_Reader_of_Fictions | Nov 13, 2014 |
Another interesting, one-of-a-kind story from Maggie. I have yet to read a book of hers that isn't interesting. Anticipating the next in the series. ( )
  chellebuck79 | Nov 6, 2014 |
The dust cover makes this book out to be about romance but it’s really not. The book is much more about clairvoyance, and quests, and friendship. And it went fairly fast. This book seems to be setting things up mostly for the rest of the series, so you’d like it would be kind of slow but it wasn’t. I felt like the action flew by. I enjoyed the characters and the story. I am intrigued and will probably read the next book at some point in the future. ( )
  Kassilem | Oct 1, 2014 |
Confession – this is the third time I’ve read The Raven Boys in less than two years. Obviously, I really love this book.

Going in, I was dubious, mainly due to the misleading cover blurb which contains several phrases that tend to make me steer away from books:

“Either you’re his true love… or you killed him.”

“But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain.”

The words “true love” and “inexplicably drawn to” tend to make me drop books and run the opposite direction in fear of Twilight clones or insta love. Basically, it looked like all the other “star crossed true love” paranormal YA stories out there, which I generally detest. However, I’d previously enjoyed The Scorpio Races by Stiefvater, so was willing to give The Raven Boys a try.

I am so glad I did.

I often see The Raven Boys classified as paranormal romance, and I’d have to disagree with that. The plot actually focuses on ley lines and trees that speak in Latin and the hunt for an ancient Welsh king. While there is a romantic plot thread, it’s a minor one compared to all the other events and relationships in the book. Really, I think The Raven Boys is centered around the friendships of all these different, complex characters. Blue and the Raven Boys (Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah) are obviously the crux of the book, but I found Blue’s family, the psychic ladies of 300 Fox Way, to be very entertaining as well.

Gansey’s filled with a desperate desire to make his life worth something, which in turn fuels his desire to find the sleeping Welsh king, Glendower. He has the tendency to come across as callus or entitled (much to his distress), but he’s also deeply devoted to his friends and is constantly worrying about them. Possibly for this reason, the TV trope “Team Mom” fits him pretty well. Unfortunately, there’s not always much he can do to help his friends.

“They were always walking away from him. But he never seemed able to walk away from them.”

Ronan’s bitter and troubled, the student who’s always cutting class and on the verge of expulsion.

“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”

I was worried that Ronan would fall into the stereotypical YA “bad boy” trap, but Maggie Stiefvater’s much too good of an author for that. The sequel, The Dream Thieves, put those fears to rest for good and made Ronan my favorite character.

Adam’s a scholarship student from a poor and abusive background who has to work hard to have even a fraction of what the others take for granted. He’s determined to succeed on his own merits without being beholden to anyone, which can lead to conflict when Gansey tries to help him out.

Noah, the last of the boys, is quiet and tends not to have much of an impression. But if you’re wondering why he’s included, just hang on for the first half and you’ll soon find out.

What’s unusual about my complete love for the series is that female characters are not a big factor. Don’t get me wrong – Blue isn’t badly written or aggravating. She’s probably better than most other YA heroines, and I might like her a lot better in another book. It’s just that she’s outshone by Raven Boys. Analyzing it, I think it’s because, well, Blue has the best life and least conflicts and worries out of all of them. She also doesn’t seem to have any of the hidden depth that makes the others so appealing.

Lastly in regards to characters, I love that Blue’s family plays a significant and sympathetic role in the book. It’s so different than how the typical YA story goes, and her mother and the other psychics have some truly hilarious moments.

Before I wrap up this review, I have two farther points to make. Firstly, the writing is excellent, never clunky and sometimes beautiful. The scenes in Cabeswater are particularly enchanting. Secondly, the plotting is very twisty. By the end of the series, I’m betting that the plot line’s going to end up looking more like a Celtic knot. I love this, but other people may find it confusing or annoying.

I have trouble thinking of a specific sort of person to recommend The Raven Boys to, mainly because of my desire to hand it enthusiastically to everyone I meet. But if you like YA fantasy set in the current day, you should really try this one. Even if you aren't a huge fan of the genre, you might want to give it a go anyway.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Sep 27, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stiefvater, Maggieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Patton, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Deep into that darkness, long I stood

there, wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever

dared to dream before...

~Edgar Allan Poe
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

~Oscar Wilde
For Brenna, who is good at looking for things
First words
Prologue: Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love.
Chapter 1: It was freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrived.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Haiku summary
Walking spirits, true
Love, ley lines and the Welsh king
Owen Glendower.
Does Gansey's spirit
On the corpse road mean that Blue
Has killed him? Watch, wait.

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Though she is from a family of clairvoyants, Blue Sargent's only gift seems to be that she makes other people's talents stronger, and when she meets Gansey, one of the Raven Boys from the expensive Aglionby Academy, she discovers that he has talents of his own--and that together their talents are a dangerous mix.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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