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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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1,5471614,746 (4.14)115
Title:The Raven Boys
Authors:Maggie Stiefvater
Other authors:Will Patton (Narrator)
Info:Playaway (2012), Preloaded Digital Audio Player
Collections:Your library
Tags:Young Adult, Paranormal

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


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I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to get to Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series considering how I’ve read practically every other novel she’s written. Possibly I burned out on her Wolves of Mercy Falls books and then The Scorpio Races didn’t end up meeting my expectations, so I figured I just wasn’t a big fan of the way she wrote her characters and decided not to follow any more of her future series.

Of course, then I started hearing a lot of great things about The Raven Cycle once the second book and then the third came out, which made me think maybe I should give The Raven Boys a try after all, though clearly I didn’t jump on it right away. Anyway, my mistake. I finally read this book and discovered that it was actually pretty damn awesome.

The novel follows the lives of several teenagers who cannot be any more different. Blue Sargent is the daughter of a clairvoyant, though she isn’t a seer herself. But what she does have is the power to amplifying psychic effects with her presence, which is how she ends up in a churchyard on a freezing St. Mark’s Eve, helping out her mother doing her clairvoyance-y things. This is the night where the soon-to-be dead walk the Corpse Road, and this year, Blue sees her first spirit – a boy who calls himself Gansey. There’s only one reason why she could have seen him, though: either he’s her true love, or she will be the one to kill him.

Thing is, for as long as Blue can remember, she’s also been warned by her mother and all her seer friends that her kiss will cause her true love to die. Soooo…you do the math.

Meanwhile, the very much alive and corporeal version of Richard Gansey III is spending his days pursuing an eccentric hobby in between going to class at the prestigious Aglionby private school for boys. The students there – known as Raven Boys because of their school crest – are mostly the sons of rich and powerful people, their children also destined for great things. Gansey fits the mold, being a scion to a wealthy family. He’s never lacked for anything, but it doesn’t matter because what he wants is so much more than just the material. Together he’s on a mystical quest with three fellow classmates Adam (the smart but poor one), Ronan (the bad boy), and Noah (the quiet and taciturn wallflower) to seek the rumored burial site of a legendary king.

The four boys, despite falling into seemingly conventional stereotypes, are in truth so much more beneath the surface. Against all odds, such disparate personalities manage to work very well together, their friendship held fast by the glue that is Gansey. That camaraderie between the Raven Boys (along with their eventual relationship with Blue) make up the meat of this novel, and it was the element I enjoyed the most. Shocker! Still, that doesn’t mean the characters never got my nerves, because they did; Gansey and his condescension, Adam with his insufferable pride, Ronan and his belligerence (and really? Naming your baby raven Chainsaw? You hokey idiot), and Blue and her bullheadedness all rankled me at one point or another, but none of it was to the extent at which Steifvater has frustrated me in the past. The dynamics here work, plain and simple.

The plot surprised me too, delivering something very different from than I expected, though maybe I should have given the author more credit. After all, the issues I’ve had with Stiefvater’s characters in her other novels notwithstanding, her knack for storytelling is unequaled in the Young Adult genre. The premises behind her books have never been anything less than beautiful, unconventional, and simply marvelous. From the beginning, I was held completely rapt by the story of The Raven Boys, drawn in by the intricate details of each characters’ situation. There was an introductory period where I wasn’t sure what everything had to do with each other, but eventually all the pieces fell into place and the resulting picture was one that knocked me off my feet. The sheer imagination on display here is impressive as hell; I was really charmed by all the little things like the mythological aspect, historical and geographical connections, magical rituals, Tarot readings and the personalities of the other seers that Blue and her mother live with. There’s also a thread of mystery weaving itself in and out of the narrative, and some of the revelations which came to the surface at the end were eye-opening to say the least. I can hardly wait to find out what happens next.

So maybe Maggie Stiefvater’s books and I still have a future together after all. Now off I go to procure the next book to add to my library. Consider me a new fan of The Raven Cycle, I’ve very glad I finally got a chance to read this first book. ( )
  stefferoo | Jul 27, 2015 |
Somewhere between "liked" and "really liked", but what's keeping me from "Really Liking It" is me, and nothing to do with the book. I'm a little averse to any blue jeans/cars/cell phones, but Stiefvater *almost* made me forget about them. I esp loved a houseful of psychic women, and such a clear lovely depiction of an area close to where I grew up. ( )
  aliceoddcabinet | Jul 25, 2015 |
The Goodreads synopsis is what kept me from reading this book prior to audiobooks.com giving it away for free. I assumed that it was the stereotypical YA story that centers on a romance and all that is ever different is the setting and the characters' names. While there's nothing wrong with a good romance story, particularly one in which the characters' relationship is met with an obstacle of some kind, there is much more to life than finding someone to fall in love with and I prefer my stories to reflect that.

However, The Raven Boys is so much more than what the synopsis makes it out to be. Most of the story has very little to do with romance. Instead, it's more about magic and mythology and all the very real issues that teenagers deal with besides who they want to date. All of the characters are struggling to find their place in the world, none of them is perfect, and they don't always make the best decisions. This isn't an afterschool special, though. I never got the sense that the author was trying to pass down some lesson about the consequences of making poor choices while having it all work out for the best in the end. Rather, Maggie Stiefvater is showing a slice of reality through the lives of teenagers who could easily be you, me, or a high school friend while bringing to life a world filled with magic.

This book is exactly the kind that I'm always on the lookout for; the kind that says magic exists alongside all the things we take for granted as being real, and as with everything else, it is neither wholly benevolent nor truly evil. It is also the kind that is full of complex characters who live lives that are never cut and dry, and it is the kind of Fantasy story that reflects reality more clearly than Literary Fiction ever could. I'm looking forward to reading the next "Raven Cycle" book, The Dream Thieves. ( )
  ReadingWench | Jul 7, 2015 |
I found this book to be very different from other YA books that I've read. For a more formal review, check out my book blog, Rachael Reads!

https://rachaelsbookshelf.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/the-raven-boys-by-maggie-stiefvater/ ( )
  Rachael_Reads | Jun 22, 2015 |
“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.”

Living with a family of psychics, Blue doesn't have her own powers, but she does have energy that helps the power of those around her. Every year she accompanies her sits by her mother, in the ruins of the old church as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue doesn't see them, her presence only helping the other's vision.

At least until this year.

The boy she sees will only tell her his name is Gansey.

Blue soon finds out that Gansey is a student at Aglionby, the local private school. Told by every clairvoyant she's ever encountered - those in her home and not - that if she kisses her true love, he'll die, Blue's decided boys are trouble. Aglionby boys,the Raven Boys, more that that are bastards.

Staying away from the ultra-rich Gansey should be no problem. Yet, Blue finds herself drawn to him - and his friends: Adam, the one Aglionby boy who doesn't seem to have money or be pretentious; Ronan, the angry one who can't let go of his pain; Noah who's quiet but always noticing things.

When Blue finds out Gansey's on his own quest - one very unexpected, she finds herself drawn into their lives and their search. Whether it's safe for any of them or not.

Some books grab me from page one, I'll admit that The Raven Boys didn't have quite grab me until the end of the first chapter. The prologue and the first chapter were okay, but I didn't love them. The end of the first chapter and after that, that's when things picked up. The Raven Boys is a book that got better and better as it went on.

The Raven Boys isn't a book that reveals everything right away. Sometimes the result will be told before the action that caused it, leaving things either a bit confusing, or with some wondering going on. In particular, I was curious as to a character's motivation for so long that I almost quit caring. Yet, when it was revealed, it became clear that it couldn't have been told in any other (or any earlier) part of the story. It was exactly where it needed to be. That's also true with the rest of the novel, it's told in exactly the order it needs to be.

That's a bit how The Raven Boys is, even the times when the story was a bit confusing (as to how things worked together or why someone was doing, or not doing, something, etc.) the writing and the novel in general are so enjoyable, you don't care.

The characters were well developed and each time something new was revealed about them, it made sense. When it was something that had been hinted at earlier, the clues that may have gone unnoticed, suddenly made sense. When it was something meant to be surprising, it was.

Blue's family - the whole dynamic of her house, really - was great fun and worked incredibly well. It wasn't a kitsch, cliche portrayal of a house of psychics. They were different, yet with something linking them together and had their own bit of mystery.

A book that gets better with each turn of the page, one that leaves you wondering a bit (sometimes more), and one with some different magical elements, The Raven Boys is a great read.

Rating: 9/10

Other books you might also enjoy: The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
  BookSpot | May 18, 2015 |
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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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