Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tea Time: The Raven Boys

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

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

“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: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before. (source:goodreads)

Cover-First glance: it's definitely eye-catching. I like that the artist used the tactic of making the raven the central part of the cover, where the eye is drawn first, and the four boys are merely a shadow in the background. They're there, but they're not, and they're mysterious.

But back to the raven: the design in it is fantastic all on its own; there's patterns within the feathers, and a red fire glowing in its chest, and I think it's those small details that make it so much more awesome than if it were a "normal" raven.

Narrative-I'm going to be honest here and say that I have very mixed feelings about the narrative style used, here. Given that this is the first book by Maggie Stiefvater that I've read (although I do have plans to begin the SHIVER series soonish), I don't know if it's unique to this book, or if it's just her style.

You've heard me say it a million times: I flock to books told in the third person. Even more so, I devour books told in the third person from multiple perspectives. Therefore I devoured THE RAVEN BOYS. It's told in the third person POV from multiple perspectives: Blue, Gansey, Adam, and a fourth guy named Barrington Whelk. Not only did I love getting to switch around to different people every chapter and seeing what's happening in their own corner of the world, it was fantastic to see how well Stiefvater gave each of them their own voice.

As  pointed out, already, though: what threw me off was the style. The first few chapters were jarring for me because the way the narrative was written felt a bit new: somewhat shorter, to the point. The word that kept coming to mind was "odd," but not particularly in a negative way (just in a way I'm finding very difficult to describe).

Admittedly, if I hadn't already gotten invested in the plot and characters, I would have put the book down because the narrative style was so jarring to my mind. However, as the pages wore on, I got used to it.

Plot-As stated above, the plot was one of the things that kept be hooked on this book. It took me a few weeks to actually hunker down and buy it, because it sounds like every other paranormal YA with a girl and a guy with a forbidden love (in this case, forbidden because it would wind up with him dead) and blah, blah, blah.

This is SO not what I got.

Instead, I got this tale woven with a part of mythology I'd never been introduced to before. I got a treasure hunt mixed with a murder mystery, mixed with the most breathtaking magic I've ever read about (there's a forest that basically changes seasons depending on which section you're at), mixed with the fact that Blue didn't go for the guy I thought she would, mixed with psychics, mixed with family problems, mixed with the fact that while everything is blowing up around them, the characters still have their own individual lives they're dealing with.

THE RAVEN BOYS is jam-packed, and it takes off at about 100 mph in the back seat of Gansey's old Camero (lovingly named, Pig). The fact is, while the only word that came to mind with the narrative was odd, the only word that came with the plot was different.

It was so, amazingly, different. A breath of fresh air. And I can't say for sure, but I feel like the rest of the books in this series are going to make me feel the same way.

Characters-The characters in this book were by far the best part.

Let's start with Blue: she's sassy and quirky. Gansey: rich, loyal, and basically a kid in a candy store when you get him in the right place. Adam: smart and resentful but also sweet. Ronan: well, he's...Ronan. Noah: the fact that he likes to comment on the spikey-ness of Blue's hair just made him downright adorable, but at the same time he's an extremely shadowy character.

Put these five in a room together (or, heaven forbid, cram them all into a car) and it's natural. Once the boys meet Blue and Blue meets the guys (and Gansey begins calling her Jane, instead, which isn't her name but made me laugh), it's like they're a family. Things like this really sweep me up do to the fact that I've always wanted that group of friends who're totally chill with each other (usually) and loyal to a fault. These guys have that dynamic (once Blue finally stops taking offense to the way Gansey talks).

I was reading this on a plane ride back from New York, and basically I kept smiling and laughing and the stranger sitting next to me looked like she wished we weren't thirty-thousand feet in the air.

Especially when it came to the psychics that Blue lives with. Some are family (her mother), and some are just friends. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, but above all they're so quirky (like Blue) that even though they were kind of annoying at times you can never doubt the sincerity behind them.

It's a somewhat large cast of characters, but Stiefvater did an amazing job at giving everybody their own voice and personalities; I was awed with how well they all stood out from each other.

Would I recommend this book? Heck yes. It's the newest on my "favorite" list, and I'm already planning on pre-ordering BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE (the third int he series) once my credit-card mysteries clear up. I'm already diving into THE DREAM THIEVES (the second book), so. Yep.

Final Answer:  4.25 / 5

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"Would I recommend this book? Heck yes." @Rae_Slater reviews THE RAVEN BOYS @mstiefvater (Click to Tweet)

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  1. Oh, yeah. I am in love w/this series. I just reread The Dream Thieves last month in preparation for Blue Lily. And I own the hardcover, but when I saw the paperback cover for The Raven Boys, I had to buy it too. I also own The Scorpio Races in hardback and pb. =) Of which, I would recommend it over the Shiver series(tho they r amazing as well!), b/c the island setting is just so atmospheric. Not to mention horses. B/c, well...horses. =)

    1. I'm about halfway through THE DREAM THIEVES right now and it's absolutely fantastic! I'm definitely going to dive in to Stiefvater's other books (SHIVER is currently on my nook, and I've been so curious about THE SCORPIO RACES and SINNER). I think she's probably one of my new favorite authors, for sure ;)